So I woke everyone up with my alarm today…That’s on me guys, sorry. I have to say the friendships you conjure up in the hostel while travelling solo is my favourite part now. At first it was nice, then it grew to be pleasant, and now it’s just the best. I met Mina and Chris on my last night in Tokyo over nothing more than the fact we were in the same vicinity as each other. They then joined me for breakfast the following day and I adore how easy it is to fill up your alone time with warm experiences here.
We went our separate ways, although I have a feeling I’ll see Chris in Kyoto in the coming days, and I packed my stuff in order to be out before 11am. It wasn’t as hard as packing for the trip the first time which was surprising! Although I did rip one pair of jeans, and donate a few books to the hostel so I guess that explains it.
The Emblem Hostel was unbelievable and I highly recommend it to anyone staying in Tokyo!
Although it was a chilly day I was sweating under the weight of my bags by the time Ueno station came around. Huge shout out to the ladies at the JR ticket office there who were lovely as they processed my Japan Rail Pass (recommend you get one when going long distance!!!), and I love that they couldn’t help but burst into laughter as I returned a minute later not realising that I needed it stamped and had to do the walk of shame through their office…Travel, the things it does to me.
Once in Tokyo it was SO SIMPLE!!! The Shinkansen section of Tokyo Station is such a easy thing to navigate even I managed to do it without stuffing up. The train itself was…unreal. I’ve been a fan of locomotives since I was a wee lad and this was my grown up dream come true; 5 star bliss, zipping around the country with leg room (my god) and a whole row to myself (yaaaaay).
I may have napped until we left Tokyo but the view as we started to near Nagoya was lovely. Then I got into Osaka, well I have to say the differences were both instant and hard to find. For example, it’s just as busy as Tokyo, but people are in less of a rush. The people who work at the train station who I bugged for guidance could speak WAY better English than anyone I had met in Tokyo. The train system is a piece of cake but that might just be because I’m getting used to the whole thing now. People stare at you more here, which is both nice and annoying, but the strangest thing was it seems to be way colder here than in Tokyo. Seriously it’s cold and I’ve forgotten what my finger tips touching things feels like.
Arriving at the hostel was easy enough but I am not too impressed. It’s a single, private room, and that’s fine but it’s COLD. The room feels like an icebox and it smells like the thing that was kept in here thawed out and went off, but that’s to be expected for $20. The only real negative about the place is I have to go down 4 flights of stairs to shower, pass.
After a little research I set out in the world of Osaka. I hadn’t eaten all day and I have been told that Osaka is the food capital of Japan so I figured that was just great planning on my behalf. I had Teppanyaki and fresh made sushi at two different stores and they were both so good I did the inadvertent head nod after each bite. I then went to investigate the Tennoji Park and the Shitennoji Temple – the oldest temple in Osaka. Both were shut. It was bloody cold, I trekked there by foot, and both were shut. Annoyed! I did manage to take a few gopro shots and then experienced my own Japanese horror movie at the park…see below (wait till the end)
Afterwards I made my way back to the train station and caught a ride into Namba which seemed to be the place to go for quirky bars, food, and just culture. It was a spot on choice! This place was weird and wonderful. It was alley after alley of very well lit up stores and bars and restaurants and everything was very much alive. I went into some weird ass store on the main corner and it had literally EVERY anime, manga, and cartoon ever created. Then it became strange as I came across some DBZ uhhh love sections and I decided nope, that’s enough, I don’t want a toy that is specifically Android 18 being sucked into Cell’s tail…
I managed to come across a bar that seemed pretty nifty called the Space Station where you don’t pay cover but you have to buy a beer (more expensive than cover as I found out) and you get to sit around and play any kind of console game you could think of on any format. Seriously we’re talking super nintendo, nintendo 64, sega, atari, playstations from start to finish and same with xbox, the list goes on. I sat around enjoying some Golden Eye before realising I was being fleeced (I thought drinking in Japan was cheap…) and headed to my next mistake – The Mustang Bar. It was this tiny little bar with steps that require you to have Olympic cyclists calves to get up, and like the Space Station the bar is just too expensive. I ventured into the Whiskey Bar which was the coolest thing I’ve been in bar wise while in Japan – here the drinks are expected to be pricey, and they are, but the atmosphere is phenomenal. You feel like you’ve just stepped into a scene from Mad Men. Everyone is in suits, there’s smoking in certain areas, the bar is beautiful and the drinks are 1960’s style hard liquor. After enjoying my whiskey neat (tried the Japanese Black Nikka) I ventured back out and decided to go home. Which of course as is the way with travel meant I wandered into a new district and started exploring. This was all about food. There were stand up ramen restaurants that looked AMAZING but to wait 45 minutes in the cold didn’t appeal to me even though the food looked like oral orgasms in a bowl. Every single restaurant I found and entered was full and I couldn’t get a seat anywhere. That is until I came across a Okonominyaki joint that seemed pretty quiet and I decided to take my chances. The company was quiet, and I met two Australian guys next to me who told me that upstairs is for the Japanese and it’s packed. I soon found out why; the food was unreal. The gyoza was cheap, and the Okonominyaki I ordered was both filling and tasty and watching it be made right in front of me was quite the highlight. The food really is second to none in Osaka.
Getting home was a chore as I was bamboozled by the bloody Japanese use of Shin in the title of some stations. My destination was Shin- Simanya and I got off at Simanya…I think it’s just to mess with you.
Honestly, not the biggest fan of Osaka but I will concede I only gave it 24 hours and so I’ll refrain from judging too hard right now.