The Great Osaka Caper

6 Sep

Now that I’m working full time, I have roughly 6-7 hours in a day to put towards what I want to do or need to get done, so managing time is a bit trickier. As I get a rhythm going I may be able to get a little more flexible, but right now my time table is get up at 5:30, catch the bus at 7:00, get back home at 16:30, go to bed at 22:00 (I am using military time as a means to get used to it, since it comes up a lot here – dunno what’s wrong with gozen (AM) and gogo (PM)). So as you can already see, it will be tough to keep posting so often.

But for now I should get to my uneventful but surprisingly eventful Osaka story before it becomes a distant memory. Remember that when this took place, it was only my third day living in Japan. I at least have the bus system down pretty well now, but I won’t miss an opportunity to brag.

So on August 27th, a Saturday, me and John, another new ALT (you saw him in the previous video) decided to accompany a senior resident, Sylvain, to Osaka. He had to ship a laptop from there, and then see a friend, but after that it could be all about walking around. And walk we did through the amazingly enormous shopping arcade in the Umeda district. I really don’t think I could appreciate the full size of it, as even Himeji’s shopping arcade is bigger than any mall I’ve been to.

Unfortunately we didn’t get to a whole lot. As soon as we got done seeing Sylvain’s friend, it started to rain and pretty much did the rest of the day. It was really coming down at some points, and I’m pretty sure I ruined my Sperry shoes; plus it was a drag walking around with completely soaked feet. Next time I go to Osaka I’m wearing flip-flops.

However, we did manage to eat at a nice little udon restaurant. I also got to visit Super Potato, which is a major retro game store. I picked up a Super Nintendo game (known here as Super Famicom) but have no means to play it yet. Maybe I’ll rectify that with the next trip.

Getting into the evening, though, we came to a head. Sylvain was going to stay in Osaka and see a punk concert later that night. John wanted to see some other sites he’d charted out for himself. I just wanted to go home. Going with either of them might have resulted in staying until after midnight, when the trains stop running, and basically seeking refuge until they start again at 5 AM.

So, Sylvain led us back to the train station and instructed us how to go our separate ways. I wasn’t excited about going home alone, but I figured what better a way to figure things out? And it actually went pretty smoothly, except that I almost missed my train because I got on the wrong platform. After getting back to Himeji station I managed to find the right bus and I was right back home all on my own!

But the story isn’t over yet. One thing I forgot to mention is that we took our bikes to the station the day before. I really had no bearing yet on where things were, and having arrived in Himeji when it was dark and raining, I had no intention of trying to find my bike and get back. But I still had to get the bike regardless. So the following Sunday, I got some instructions to get to Himeji station on foot and did just that.

After a little trouble, I did manage to find my bike. I had to walk through the station, and then see where the train tracks overhead led to. On my bike I was much faster, except I somehow lost my way again, this time completely. I thought I noticed where Himeji castle was, but I just go entirely on the wrong track. I’m not sure if I could still retrace my path from then.

Eventually, I just took a stab at walking into a small business. I don’t know what it was but there were a number of little shisa statues or some such out front. In my broken Japanese I initially asked where Himeji castle is (since I figured I could find my way back from there), and then just decided to tell them where I lived. A gentleman broke out a phone book-esque map of the city and located the street I live on. Then he did his best to give me directions on how to get there from where I was. He was very detailed about it and the whole ordeal took maybe 20 minutes; I felt a little ashamed.

On top of that, I don’t think I followed his directions quite right (I never did come across the blinking signal), but I did eventually see a recognizable landmark and was able to get back from there. I still need to find that place again and drop off some kind of gift for appreciation. I also got a nice sunburn in the roughly two hours of navigating around town. But I think being adventurous and learning the land is more than justification for some skin cancer down the road.

And that’s pretty much it. I wish I could make it sound more thrilling, but for the most part it was just me going places and not really understanding anything around me. I definitely will get better “coverage” the next time I go to Osaka, which I hope is soon. Unfortunately though, it’s not a cheap trip. The train alone, to get to the Umeda district and back, is roughly $30 US. Given the time and cost, it’s just not feasible to go every weekend or something. Shame since Osaka seems pretty cool (and is probably cooler when the weather’s nice). All I got to show for it for now is my swag.

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One Response to “The Great Osaka Caper”

  1. Splashman September 7, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    Yeah, see? GPS maps on smartphones take out all the fun in getting lost these days… though I wouldn’t want to part with mine and that horrible sense of direction.

    FYI, you can play that game on a US-SNES if you have one around (which I doubt you do). But you should probably get a real SFC anyway, they’re much cuter.

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