Sweet Osaka

Trip Start Jul 09, 2007
Trip End Dec 20, 2007

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Saturday, July 14, 2007

Day 6- Sweet Osaka!
  Our commute to Osaka would be less than ideal.  Our bags seem to have doubled in weight and it was raining.  Many of the train stations do not have elevators, so between the three stations we were forced to carry our luggage up and down countless flights of stairs.  We arrived at Tokyo station to find out that all of the Shinkensen trains were sold out.  This was quite curious because they run so frequently.  After asking (several times) the same question "what time is the next free train?", we would continually be told "all sold out".  We tried once more- "what time is the next free train?" The man finally answered 1:00pm.  Very odd, but who cares, we were on a train!  We found two beautiful $5 lockers (I would have paid $20) to store our bags, while we enjoyed our final (rainy) hours in Tokyo. 
  We intended on visiting the Imperial Palace (one of the few tourist spots we have neglected), but the rain forced a detour to a six story bookstore.  The bookstore was clean, bright, and best of all - dry.  And if life couldn't get any better, they had an entire floor of English books!  We picked up a Korean/English phrasebook, and went down to the basement level of the building to find a cup of coffee (for me).  We ended up at a place that would have made Donald Trump's taste look Amish, called Champagne and Hamburgers.  Crystal, glass, and gold covered every inch of the small restaurant.  We were able to find an underground passageway from the building to the train, and waited the remaining hour on a United Airways (stolen) blanket in the station.
  The Shinkensen was pretty much what I expected.  Futuristic-looking train with luxury seats, and enough leg-room to allow a baby elephant between your legs and the seat in front of you.  Our section of the row housed three seats, the last of which remained empty through half of the ride.  The other half it was occupied by a business man who felt it appropriate to leaf through a girlie magazine until he finally caught on to my and Phil's snickering. 
  We were able to take a direct subway from the Shin-Osaka station to our Hotel.  And, other than mistakenly entering the "women's only car", it was a stellar commute.  We exited the train and asked a woman, working at a magazine stand, where we would find Hotel Taiyo.  She took out a map and showed us that we must walk straight and then make a left.  The map wasn't exactly necessary, seeing as how the "walking straight" meant 30 steps and the "turning left" meant entering the building. 
  Besides the closeness to the subway, Hotel Taiyo was more than a breath of fresh air from our Tokyo hostel.  It was completely full service with an elevator, and our room even had a closet.  There were a couple things I would have perhaps changed about the hotel (if given the chance).  There were no "western toilets", and women were only allowed to shower from 9:00pm-10:00pm and 12:00am-1:00am (2 hours a day!). 
  We were tired from the trip, and decided to just eat locally for dinner.  The very sweet man at reception recommended a street where he said there were loads of restaurants.  The street was right behind the huge Pachinko building across from our hotel.  The spot looked a lot like Atlantic City.  There were lights, arcades, and restaurants everywhere.  We chose a reggae-themed restaurant called Shinsekai, and enjoyed a fabulous fried meat dinner (my favorite kind). 
This style of cuisine is called Kushikatsu where everything is battered and deep fried.  Cholesterol watchers beware. This is not light food.  The batter is thick like that of your standard onion rings only tastier.  Michelle was in heaven.  We sampled beef, chicken, pork belly, green peppers, eggplant and eel.  It was all fantastic.  The table setup is interesting.  Each comes equipped with a very large bowl of a soy-teriyaki-worstershire sauce for dipping that is obviously used (and reused) for all diners who sit at the table.  We were also brought a large bowl of coarsely chopped green cabbage which seems to be the status quo for heavily deep fried foods.  We loved the energy of the place and the warm welcome we received from the staff in their Rasta wigs. 
Able to finally stretch out, we slept very comfortably. 
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