Kayoko went with through customs etc, but I had to take a separate path because i was one of the small handful of people who weren`t actually japanese. We met up again and although i think she went way out of her way to do so, she took me to the train station where i booked a ticket for an overnight train later on in the trip, validated my 7 day rail pass and got a special ticket for a day on the subway and admission to aquarium kaiyukan
. The ticket even came with a penguin postacrd with a real penguin feather enclosed as a gift. THAT`S why i love this country. We caught a train into the city, and she took me to namba and then umeda station, and saw me off. I know I`ve said it before kayoko, but i can`t thank you enough; you`re incredibly sugoi
! I already got overwhelmed by amazing japanese food in a tiny newsagents, and bought a drink called calpis、which tasted infinitely better than it sounded, kind of a refreshing grapefruit milky drink. After a bit of a detour which involved a few complete strangers offering to help me find the hotel (and only because i was holding a map) and being given a free bottle of green tea, i left my luggage at the hotel and freshened up (thank goodness), and set off into the city. You can tell instantly that the osakans (?) are in a complete leauge of their own; no favour is EVER too big for them to handle, and you can actually argue with them to try and get them NOT to help you. They`re cool folks :D first stop was one of the neverending department stores food halls
. when i say i nearly had a fit when i saw one of them, i really do mean it. Infinite amazing stuff you wouldn`t believe, and people shouting "irrashiii" as a can i help you, to which all you can do is smile and bow at them. so my neck hurts a bit now from repetitive strain lol. Over the course of the day i have to mention i ate a week's worth of the best food i`ve ever had in my life, and although my stomach now wants me to pay for it (as if i haven`t already spent a huge wad of cash), i`m so hooked. I`m
not even going to go into the stuff you can get because someone else wants to use this computer within the next 24 hours lol. Caught a train to the tempozan bay area, and made my way to the aquarium in the sweltering heat (wasn`t prepared really)
. Went through the marketplace (with more food) beforehand, and went mad on hello kitty stuff. WHY do they have whole shops dedicated to it? well probably because of people like me to be honest. well if you ever was a phone charm of hello kitty dressed as a piece of fried squid then you`re sorted. The aquarium puts birmingham sea life to complete shame, there's every fishy and sea creature you could wish for, and all in vast tanks that you can view from all kinds of levels. Oh and i stroked some rays as well :) went a bit mad in the gift shop but hey ho. back out in the sun as it got a tiny bit darker but still warm i had 'mirari' syrupy ice and rode the ferris wheel overlooking the city, which is meant to be one of the biggest wheels in the world. And something extremely odd happened. By complete chance (even though i`ve probably seen about 6 westerners in the whole of osaka today) i met up with a couple who are doing my tour tomorrow!! it:s very spooky. but cool. a very strange coincidence i think. got the train back, and after dashing round a food hall again, where everything was now being discounted for closing time (extremely frantic and crazy) i ate an osaka speciality: takoyaki which are fried balls of octopus with loads of toppings. incredibly unhealthy but good. and i had a bento meal yet again, and green tea milkshake and loads of other stuff, so i think i`m gonna explode in a minute. and japanese tv is making my head hurt, every single advert is too strange even for youtube. but i`m completely in love with japan. i don`t ever want to leave, even though i`m getting homesick. But i`ve got to know so many great people already. loads more to come xxxxx must TRY to sleep after 48-plus hours of deprivation. only just got into my room, tis a traditional tatami mat room with a futon bed. luvverly.
i honestly have absolutely no idea where to begin; it has all been so cataclysmically epic that i think i`d die of old age before i even scratched the surface of all the stuff i`ve experienced today. but i`ll give it a try.