Right, so…I finally have time to write about the big Japan trip of 2015. Better late than never!
There was nothing too mind-boggling about Osaka, now that I’ve looked back and decided that I’d prioritize Kyoto the next time I go there. Still, the city was kinder–as in I could really say yasashii in all senses of the word–than I expected.
First off, my friend Kat and I couldn’t find our hostel on our first night. The neighborhood it was in was really quiet, not just because we were out on the streets late at night, but because we were surrounded by office and apartment buildings. There was also the feeling that nothing exciting ever happens here at whatever time of day.
But then we saw two girls hanging out in front of one apartment, and not only did they give us directions, they actually walked us to our hostel’s front door. One of them was more confident with her English and asked if we could be friends and even have lunch if we have time. So now, yay, we’re Instagram friends! Folks in Tokyo weren’t as welcoming, except for the friends that we met there on purpose.
Speaking of friends, one thing that we really looked forward to doing in Osaka was meeting our university sempai Tina, who lives there with her family. She took us out for a proper udon lunch at Umeda, and we gleefully watched as her daughter Nana slurped plain udon noodles like it was nothing, and then followed it all up with senbei, which she could never say “no” to. Aww, Nana, why are you so cute!
As Osaka was our point of entry, this was also where I encountered Japanese trains for the first time ever. God, I never thought I’d profess so much love for public transport. I could spend all day taking the trains in Japan and never get bored.
For the rest of the trip, we had no other guides, but we did see other places that Kat has already visited, like Fukushima-ku, where she stayed the first time she went. This was the first place where I had that “shit, I could actually live here” kind of feeling.
I mean, there was nothing so special about it, you could say it’s your average little town. But it was just so charming, especially that long stretch of little shops, cafes, and houses with potted plants in front. I don’t know why I didn’t take as many photos as I could, so here’s a collage.
Oh, right, food! How could I forget? We ate our way through Dotonbori, of course. Did I say Osaka wasn’t special? I take that back. I’m so sorry, Osaka, and I seriously mean that. If there’s one place in this city that I’d love to go back to, this would be it.
As far as touristy things went, we really didn’t do anything much, except see Dotonbori, the grounds of Osaka Castle, and the National Museum of Art. We swore we wouldn’t go to theme parks, but I did think of the Harry Potter one a few months back. Bit expensive, though.
Ah, and of course we did something JE-related, especially on September 15, the anniversary of Arashi’s debut. We visited Johnny’s Shop and I tried to take a photo of the building at least, but I swear, the guards were too bloody efficient. But we did come out of the shop bearing JE official photos, and found another shop where I got to buy a Tackey & Tsubasa CD that was on sale. One item off the Fangirl Mission list, check.
One thing that I regret not having enough time for was learning some words in Kansai-ben. I mean, my Japanese is already poor as it is, but I really like the sound of this dialect. A colleague who spent four years in Osaka said that people in this city are so chatty compared to the folks in Tokyo and Kyoto. The words also sounded so hilarious, even if I had no idea what they were actually saying. Sadly, the only word I know is “nandeyanen” (thanks to a bunch of Japanese idols who couldn’t say anything else but this on an episode of Shukudai-kun. I’m looking at you, Arashi).
I really don’t know enough to tell you how terribly funny and awesome Kansai-ben sounds, but if you ever find yourself standing on the streets of Umeda surrounded by people practically yelling at each other left and right, you’d understand why.
Did I say I’d pass up on Osaka next time? Okay, I take that back. It’s difficult to walk away from something that’s been very kind, after all. Until next time, Osaka. やっぱ好きやねん!