Its January 17th, 2012
I woke up this morning in Osaka, Japan. At the moment I am in a hostel in the Tennoji ward of Osaka city. Osaka is an interesting place. I expected an ultra modern megatropolis like Shanghai or Hong Kong, afterall, it is the second biggest city in Japan. Instead its more like 1,000 small towns all stuck together. There are not very many super skyscrapers and the city skyline is not that impressive. As for the ultra modern thing…. well at least the area I have seen is not all that modern. Most of the building have a definite 50-70s vibe in both architecture and state of repair.
One thing that surprised me about Osaka, especially after living in Korea, is how flat the city is. I understand that Japan is supposed to be a mountainous country, but its not nearly as hilly as Korea. The flat landscape, combined with the absence of tall buildings makes for a view I am not used to. This morning when I stood on the ninth floor balcony of my hostel I couldn’t help but feel like I was in the middle of an ocean. As far as I could see there was just city, endless, flat, city. I guess it wouldn’t be that strange to most people, but for the last 11 months I’ve lived in a city where ANY view of the city, no matter what part of town or how high or low you are, is cut off within 1 mile by a mountain range.
The area Im staying in is a well known market district. Yesterday I went to the top of Osaka tower and took a stroll through a park. I saw an old temple with a huge burial mound. There must have been 1000 – plus tombstones in an area smaller than a city block. It was impressive and I got some video as I wandered around. Last night I went to a blowfish restaurant and had blowfish in udong noodles. It was delicious. The blowfish meat was surprisingly tasty – as with most delicacies, I expected it to taste like crap.
After the blowfish, I had two fried meat skewers, which are extremely popular in this area of Osaka. I cannot remember what they are called, but they came to Osaka some years ago and the city fell in love with them. At least, thats what a tourist pamphlet told me. Anyway the fried skewer idea really took off and the restaurant I went to had almost anything you can think of skewered and fried up. I saw garlic, asparagus, spicy sausage, chicken stomach and more. I played it safe and went with beef and chicken breast.
Today I am heading to Tokyo for the second leg of my trip. This morning I have been taking advantage of the hostels free coffee policy. FREE COFFEE?!?! DO THEY KNOW WHO I AM?! Earlier I was pretending to look at a map in the common room as a decoy so I could drink more coffee, when I noticed that there are two ways to reach my first destination of the day. In order to go to Tokyo, I have to get to Shin-Osaka station. There are two ways to get there: The first is a simple subway ride, I can take the red, Midusoji, line from in front of my hostel all the way up to Shin-Osaka. The second option is to take the JR loop line to Osaka station and then transfer for Shin-Osaka station. The second option is about 3x more complicated, but since I have a JR Railpass I can take that option for free. The subway option is simpler, but I would have to pay whatever the subway fare is. Decision? The free route, of course.
Well, I have had just about as much free coffee as one person can reasonably drink, so its time to get this journey underway. I hope to do another update from Tokyo, but I know at least one of my intended hostels on this trip does not have free computer use, so I cannot guarantee anything.
Either way, stay tuned for another update soon. Wish me luck finding my way to Tokyo today.