Before getting too comfortable in Tokyo it was time to head to Osaka.
To get down Osaka way, we got on the SHINKANSEN!! The Shinkansen as most normal people will say it, is the bullet train system all over Japan. Without getting into too much of a love letter to Japanese trains, it's amazing and you will ridicule your own countries train systems after experiencing it.
A short 2.5 hour train we arrived in Osaka. (Yep that’s over 500klm in less than 3 hours!) Osaka is the third largest prefecture in Japan, with just on 3 million inhabitants.
We had to change trains at Osaka station which gave us witness to one of the most amazing things I have ever seen, now I hope you are prepared for this... The Escatravelator!! (TM) I know you're blown away, I was too, thank goodness that the flat bit happened otherwise I may have fallen down the stairs, potentially forever! This is just one of those tiny insignificant things I have only seen in Japan that makes you feel like one second your 30 years in the future.
Once we got to our hotel right on Osaka port, we had a spectacular view of the entire port and Universal Studios Osaka.
Osaka is a bustling metropolis, like Tokyo, but on a smaller scale. When I say small, I mean in comparison to Tokyo. This port city is filled with little alley ways with neon signs leaking out of them like a radiation spill, and has these canals and a river all throughout the city that really help bring it to life.
Osaka was our hub for the Kansai region for the next 5 days, We did consider staying in Kyoto, however as much as I love Kyoto, I find it a little to sedate at night, Osaka has a far more vibrant night life and cheaper hotels to boot.
On our first night in Osaka we headed into Osaka station, trying to not stop and scream witchcraft at the escatravelator again, and set out to do what we do best, shop. As we headed out of the station rain began, and like a flash dance all these umbrellas appeared from nowhere, you could almost duck under all the umbrellas walking around you and be covered, Oh the locals know how fickle the weather can be.
Well, us without our Umbrellas the weather went from usual rain to Monsoon storm in oh 2 minutes, our mad dash inside HEP-5 Shopping complex started our new shopping list. Buy Umbrellas! We must have bought 4 umbrellas each this trip, see the availability and sunny mornings are a bad combo to me thinking, Nah we don't need no stinking brellas! (Two hours later... Hello... Umbrella, I lovvve you!)
Now you'd think with all these umbrellas there must be allot of wet carpets and such? Well don't jump to conclusions. At every public entrance there are these amazing little devices where you drop you moist umbrella in then pull it out and BAM! it's in a plastic bag,
The little things Japan does to make things, well better, is just amazing. I could go on about these but I think a new post about all the little things I love about Japan will cover this more. (I know! shut up about umbrellas!)
Back on track, so we where shopping around Hep-5 (Shopping centre not a new hepatitis strand) this was no ordinary mall. Atop this 8 story complex was a giant red Ferris wheel for great views across Osaka, and in the 8 story atrium was a 6 story red whale hanging, you know, just chilling. Between Sam bumping into Japanese schoolgirls to get the right angle of the whale and the nearby demonstration of temporary lip tattoos I was feeling right in the midst of Japaness.
Next stop was Yodobashi! This is just heaven in a electronics store. 12 stories, Sorry did I stutter 12 STORIES!! This is the place to go for the best price on anything you can think of that is electrified. Although we didn't buy anything at this one (I already bought at the Shinjuku branch) we did lose allot of Yen to the Capsule Machine section or Gashapon. There must have been 300 of the things all lined up calling me. Gashapon machines are filled with the most bizarre items, from my nifty sea creature coin purse, which when opened shows it's insides, to the key rings playing station melodies, You really can do all your souvenir shopping through these, because whatever you get, if chosen wisely, will be the most bizarre and totally Japanese thing for a couple hundred yen, score.
These giant department stores, which seem to dominate every station in Japan are like casinos, with a blink it’s been 3 hours and your trying to juggle all the capsule balls you have gotten, while trying to get the change machine to accept your wrinkled up yen. It’s a sign, you have a problem and walk away from the Gashapon.
Eventually being dragged away by Sam, like a child being taken away by family services.
We then headed back in the rain to our hotel, with a trip on the mythical Escatravelator bringing me back from my Gashapon withdrawals.