Osaka Day 1

Continued from Hiroshima Day 2.

We are leaving Hiroshima and heading to Osaka today.

Self portrait with our packs. Still feels just as heavy as the first day that we put them on.

We arrived at the stop right when our street car arrived…but we are stuck at the red signal cross walk. Since no one jaywalks here in Japan, we had to wave goodby to this street car. Sigh.

We wait on the platform and another street car for a different line arrives. Look at how little space I have with my packs on. Merely inches away from the moving street car.

10 minutes later, our ride shows up again.

Got a bit of time until our train leaves. Time to look for some food for the train ride.

The amazing bento boxes of Japanese train stations.

They look almost like pieces of art instead of portable lunch boxes.

And…this is what I have to eat…left over sandwich that I had sitting in my hotel fridge from yesterday. But no joke, it was a delicious sandwich!!

I am now more than 2 months behind on reading my The Economists. It’ll be lots of sleepless nights when I get back to Austin to catch back up.

We moved from the waiting area to the platform to wait for our train.

Photo bomb. Look at all the stuff that we have.

Our shinkansen arrives on the dot, duh. These are some of the most punctual trains in the world. If there are delays, which is rare, the delayed are measured in seconds and not in minutes.

We sit down at our assigned seats, and whoever sat down here at left his/her phone. Oops. We found an train attendant and she took down the seat number where the phone was left, so hopefully the phone will find its way back to its owner.

This is how you sleep on the shinkansen, with your head hanging off in the walkway. Again, a super pleasant ride. Sitting on the shinkansen is as comfortable as sitting in my own living room, it’s awesome. This is a short ride, only a bit over an hour. I must try and get as much backlog of blogging done.

Not all cities in Japan are pretty. This one looks grey and industrial.

But they are all still very clean.

My sushi that I bought at the train station for the second part of my lunch. It even comes with a tiny bottle of soy sauce instead of a messy packet. Damn you Japan, you think of everything!

In no time, we’ve arrived in Osaka. I wish the train ride could have been longer, it was so relaxing!!

OK…it’s been a long time since I’ve used the Osaka subway…Of course, the first subway map that I look at above the machine has no English. I had to look at another map which had English.

There’s an English menu, but it doesn’t really tell you anything. But…we figured it out. You see those yellow stickers with Japanese and arrows printed on it? I believe those are the actual instructions on the steps needed to buy tickets.

Just like subway tickets of Paris, small magnetic paper tickets. Except, Osaka’s system charges by the distance.

Love the wide trains.

A few stations later, we’ve arrived at our hotel, which is just around the corner from the subway exit. Nice.

This is what $87 a night gets you in a very central location right next to the main subway line. This is probably the smallest room that we’ve had. There wasn’t not even room for me to place my backpack except in the short hallway leading from the front door into the room.

Like our other hotels in Japan, our bathroom is a prefab set from Toto. As expected, everything work and everything is very clean. Another bidet toilet, yay!

Our view.

Ahhhh, there’s the on demand movie guide, and a whole separate tv guide for porn. Japan lives up to their stereotype as a country full of perverts.

Right caddy corner from us is a FamilyMart, nice. We can stock up our fridge with snacks and drinks.

Even in Japan, sometimes rules are broken…of course, it’s the cyclists who break the rules. RED LIGHT MEANS STOP, Asshole!!

A hot drinks section on the very top of the fridge right above the cold drinks section. I reached for one of these hot drinks unknowingly at first…not a fun surprise.

Seriously, $5 and delicious. Gotta love Japan.

It’s Saturday, so we decided that tonight would be a good night to go out drinking in Osaka. We devoted the afternoon to napping so that we would have energy to stay out late tonight.

That was kind of a long nap. By the time we woke up and got out of our hotel, it’s past 8, dark and raining.

Osaka is known to do things a little differently. Unlike much of Japan, they stand on the right on escalators and walk on the left.

A short subway ride and we are in the Namba area of Osaka. This one of the bustling spots of Osaka.

A block away in Shinsaibashi Suji, one of the famous covered shopping streets of Osaka.

Shinsaibashi Suji.

Kani Doraku’s giant mechanical crab in Dotonbori, the eating and drinking street. We tried to get reservations to eat here tonight, but they were all booked. We had to settle for a reservation tomorrow night instead.

What to eat, what to eat…

You can buy crab bento boxes to go from Kani Doraku.

Soooo many dining options it’s overwhelming. As you can see from the umbrellas, it’s still raining.

The odd fashion of Japan. There’s the two girls wearing the same outfit on the right. The girls on the left with umbrella and stripper heels are probably working girls of some sort. All the popular intersections in this area have those girls standing around. And you know they’ve been standing around because their umbrellas have collection much more water droplets than other people….that and the stripper high heels.

Once we saw this, is there even a doubt on what where we’ll be eating tonight? It’s a rotating sushi restaurant, our favorite.

OMG, this is quite the rotating sushi operation!!

Holy shit, look at this place!!!

And the line snakes around the entire restaurant!!! We are in heaven!!!

Let’s start out with some blue fin tuna toro!!

Don’t know what this is, some sort of fish egg? RL dared me to eat it, so I did. It was ok.

So amazing!

The damage. Love Japan, we ate super delicious sushi here for cheaper than in Austin. Sigh…wish we had this in Austin.

OK, now that we’ve filled our stomachs with sushi, it’s now time to fill it with alcohol. Where to where to…

The impossible claw machine.

Ohhhh, a small alley with red lanterns. Bar?? Unfortunately, this ended up being nothing but an alley with red lanterns, and nothing else.

Where Dontonbori connects to Shinsaibashi Suji is the famous Glico Man sign. It’s not lit up tonight for some reason.

Still looking for some place to drink, we’ll see if there are any bars on Shinsaibashi. The bars back at Dotonbori are mostly not street level, but up on the different floors of buildings. We kind of want something where we can peek in to look at the scene first.

No bars really on Shinsaibashi, it’s mostly retail. But, we did see more ladies of the night standing around on busy cross walks. Again, the giveaways being the rain drop dotted umbrellas with the super tall heels. Odd that they stand in the most crowded places, since it’s very conspicuous for a potential customer to inquire.

We decided to walk away from the really busy shopping areas and try to head to an area called Amerikamura, American Village. This area is supposed to be a nightlife area, with a slant towards expats.

Before reaching Amerikamura, I was lured by the smell of this bakery.

Top left, one please. Yum!

On the less visited area of Dotonbori.

OK, found our first potential bar. It’s still hidden behind stairs, but at least we can hear the commotion from the street and see up into the window. Let’s give this a try.

Very nice, it’s got a crowd.

Typical izakaya bar.

Round 1, unless you count dinner.

One drink later after the izakaya bar, we went out in search of another place.

Spanish tapas bar.

Unfortunately, we ended up leaving immediately. They had a $5 cover…and we didn’t really feel like paying it despite the cool atmosphere.

Singing in the rain. Me laughing at RL for being slightly buzzed and blonde. She covered the body of the camera to shield the lens from the rain drops, instead of covering the lens itself.

OK, I think this is a known expat bar. It says no cover, so good enough for us for now.

Interesting, it’s a raggae decorated bar that plays 80s music along with pop Japanese raggae…strange, but we kinda enjoyed the pop Jap raggae.

No cashier here apparently. You exchange money for tokens.

Almost everything is 1 token($5).

This was one of the few exceptions, Mega Beer!

The alcohol is doing a solid kicking in for the both of us.

Downed my big ass beer, and now it’s time to hop to the next spot. But first, toilet break before hitting the street. I walked into the restroom, and there’s a Japanese smart toilet there, good. I steady my slightly drunken self with an arm on the opposite wall(all drunk guys know this move) and proceed to being my business. Just as I was about to begin, I hear this beep followed by the toilet lid closing itself!!! OHHH, NOOO!!!!! WTF!!!!….As I stand there trying to figure out what just happened, I hear another beep and the toilet lid goes back up. OK, let’s do this because I really need to go!

So the waterfall starts, and halfway into it, I hear yet another beep. OH FUCK!!! The lid starts to close for no reason!!! AAHHHHH!!!! I had to stop mid stream to prevent from pissing all over the toilet. And as soon as the lid closed, it followed with another beep and the lid opening back up. The waterfall starts again, and I am not taking anymore chances. With one hand, I steady myself against the wall, and with the other hand, I hold the toilet lid open so it can’t try to out dumb itself by closing while I am doing my business.

Two more failed attempts later by the toilet lid, I was out of the bathroom. Damn you too smart for your own good Japanese toilets!!

In search for our next bar.

Capsule hotel.

We are in search of a bar that supposedly has all sorts of video games and fair priced drinks. It’s supposed to be in this building, but we can’t find a sign for it. We did, however, find this sign pointing to the basement with numerous bars listed…Hmmm

The only way down is through this dirty(extremely dirty for Japanese standards) and seedy stairs. Sober KL and RL would have cringed and walked on. Drunk KL and RL thought, what the hell, let’s do it!

We arrived down into this disheveled basement that felt like it was 140 degrees. It was HOT down here, and soon became apparent to us why that is. All those doors lead to tiny bars, that can maybe fit 10 people, and all those bars have their AC condenser units sitting out in the hallway blowing hot air. This place felt like it was from another world.

We walked around peering into the different bars. They are all drastically different and each have a different theme. We walked by one that was Japanese themed, and we walked by one that had punk rock playing and inside it was decorated with punk rock posters and a group of hardcore punk rocker Japanese sitting inside. Wicked!!

As we were deciding which bar to go into, we walked by this place, and I hear Nirvana streaming out of the door. Bam, this is the place!!

All the bar stools were taken, so we sat down at one of the seats backing up to the wall. There was a guitar on the seat, so the bartender came by to move it away for us. We asked if it was his guitar, which he replied with yes and played us a short tune. Sweet.

This place is a time warp to the 90s. Holy shit!! 90s music, posters, and everything!

KL ordering drinks. There are only about 10 seats in here and the whole size of the bar is about the size of a small American hotel room. This photo is taken from one corner diagonally to the other corner of the bar.

There’s even this fish tank in here.

Let’s do this!!

A couple of drinks later, several people leave from the bar and the bartender asked if we would like to join in at the bar. Sure! The bartender, MM, is also the owner of this place and he speaks conversational English. And man, is he a character!

Some of his stories of his colorful youth!

He visited NYC when he was 19 with his then boss. At night his boss disappeared somewhere, so he was bored and naturally, did some coke. After that, he wanted to buy some beer to get rid of his coke hangover, so he went to the convenience store, only to be denied by the Chinese girl working the counter because he was underage. Somehow, after much charming, she gave in and put the beers inside a bag and left it on the counter while she went to the bathroom. The next day, he went back, thanked her and asked her out to dinner. They then spent the next few days in NYC together, then she wanted him to meet her parents….errr…what? He went back to Japan, and hasn’t visited NYC since.

He was young and poor traveling in Europe trying to get from Paris to London to see his friend, who owes him $500 dollars. He had $10 left in his wallet and was sitting in a park trying to figure out how to get enough money to get on the Eurostar to go from Paris to London. Then some Nigerian guy approached him and started talking to him. Eventually, the Nigerian guy proposed that MM should stand watch while the Nigerian guy goes and shoplifts a grocery store. So, that’s what they did, and they split the proceeds. MM then sold the wine they “procured” to some Japanese tourists and managed to get enough money for train tickets to London. When he got to London, his friend met up with him and provided him with the $500, two joints, and two pills of ecstasy.  He said it was totally worth it.

MM is a pretty awesome bartender. He mixes the drinks with so much care!

We figured that since we are in such good hands, we’ll just let him pick all of our drinks for us.

MM joking around with his patrons. Fake gun, obviously.

17 years MM has owned this bar. He’s run it since he was 23 and he takes 2 long vacations a year. The bar opens from 9pm until 7 or 8am(!!!) and caters mostly to regulars in the service industry for when they get off work after a late shift. The bar doesn’t get crowded until well past in the middle of the night.

MM says that about 1/3 of his patrons are expats(we were the only foreigners there that night), so we asked him who the worst foreigners are. He said that Austrians ones are, because they think they can just get any Japanese girl that they want. He said that just last week he had to kick out an Australian guy out of his bar because he was being rude to the Japanese girls inside the bar. He said he lend over and whispered in the guy’s ear “if you do not leave now, I will kill you”. The guy left.

This bar is so kick ass!!! After a couple of drinks, it was an easy decision for us. We would drink here tonight until we could drink no more.

The tiny closet sized restroom also has the smallest sink ever. It’s about the size of a rice bowl!

So…I am not a tobacco smoker…unless I am really really really drunk. Then sometimes I’ll bum a cigarette from someone once in a while. Well, I am really really really drunk right now and I am looking for a cigarette. I eye the cigarette machine sitting inside the bar, then MM tells me that it doesn’t work, but that’s ok because if I am just looking for a few cigarettes, he’ll just roll some for me and give it to me for free!!! Awesome!

For me, there’s drunk, dancing drunk, then somewhere between dancing drunk and blackout drunk is smoking drunk. But this kind of drunk only happens about once a year. Don’t worry DH, I am not really a smoker!

MM writes down directions for us to try his favorite noodle shop around here. He says it stays open until 3:30am. He isn’t actually sure about when the noodle shop opens because he’s always there in the middle of the night only.

It’s now 1AM, which means that they are showing the World Cup on TV. It sucks that all the games here in Asia are in the middle of the night with the last game showing at 7am.

It’s time to go (around 2am). We can’t drink anymore, we’ve already passed the point where we shouldn’t drink anymore long ago.

It’s still raining, we need to find a cab.

Love you Japan!!! We immediately get into a cab and this being Japan, the driver is able to open and close the rear passenger door with a lever in the front.

Again this being Japan, we tell the driver where we are headed and he’s super polite and drives us straight there.

Back and…hope we can hold it all together for the night. That was one of the coolest experiences ever!!! Time capsule 90s bar in a seedy basement in Osaka with one cool cat bartender. Felt so out of this world, did that just really happen? Just about the perfect night in Japan and definitely one of the highlights of our honeymoon!

Tomorrow morning will probably be one of the low lights of our honeymoon….

To be continued at Osaka Day 2.

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