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Sunday, April 13, 2014

osaka with my parents, part 3 (and arashiyama!)

Read part 1 and part 2!

Our next big adventure was the Umeda Sky Building, a skyscraper in Osaka City from which you can see the entire city. It's like Tokyo Tower and Tokyo Skytree, but I thought it was nicer inside. We went up a little before sunset, took our typical "look at the city photos," and found a cafe inside where we watched the sun set over the canal. 

There was a shrine inside for couples, and they could buy heart locks to put around the outdoor viewing deck. 

I like being up so high, and feeling like a king...or an ant. I like trying to see what I can find from that vantage point, but since I don't know Osaka very well, I couldn't find much. 

But you can only do the "highest building let's look at the sunset" thing so many times before it starts to seem repetitive. Needless to say, considering the pace at which we were going with our travel/tourism, it was a good, slow, but interesting, cap for the day. We found a restaurant area downstairs for dinner and had Italian. 

Two years ago: tokyo, cultural differences

Three years ago: chocolate chip cookies experiment

We finally found a day of good weather, and an early start, to go to Arashiyama, in Kyoto. We visited years ago, when we first came to Kyoto, but I hardly remember it. I remember being impressed. And when professional photos of Arashiyama started popping up all over my Pinterest and Tumblr, I realized I had already been and wanted to go back. 

I didn't quite manage any photos of the quality seen in travel magazines, but Arashiyama is probably the most beautiful town I've ever seen, regardless. 

The name means "storm mountain," and I'm not sure where that came from. It's known for the bamboo trail that we visited, and rightly so. The forest is one of the most peaceful places I've ever been, but it was somewhat crowded while we were there. It'd be nice to take a random weekend and go back by myself, just for some solitude and exploring time. 

We made our way back down the road slowly, exploring the town on our way to the station, and also searching for lunch, and some ice cream (mom couldn't get enough of the various flavors of soft-serve that Japan loves so much. She didn't enjoy the cherry blossom or green tea flavors very much, though.)

As usual, I passed out on the train on the way back to Osaka, and got a good nap in. Our days may be slow, but they were eventful enough. We may have missed a few big Osaka things (the aquarium...the largest in the world :c), but for our first time in the city, it was plenty memorable. Osaka's been one of the most beautiful cities I've ever seen, and I'll be sure to go back often, especially because it relatively cheap to get there, and quick by bus. 

Sayonara, Osaka,

Nick P. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

osaka with my parents, part 2

Read part 1 here

Day 2 of Real Osaka Exploring!

We made plans to visit a friend, Matt, from my study abroad program, who moved to Osaka prefecture to teach English around the same time I did. My parents and I got up early, at the crack of late morning, and went back to Dotonbori to explore more before meeting Matt. Dotonbori was pretty cool at night, but even better during the day. It reminded me too much of Harajuku and Shibuya. Osaka's obviously much larger than Takamatsu, as a city, and it's far more urban. I saw stores I had forgotten existed. I really would love to live here some day. I could spend a whole week just walking around Namba and Dotonbori.

There's a famous crab place, Crab Douraku, that I was interested in trying. We had not idea how to order or what we would get, and even once our food arrived, we still didn't quite understand what we were eating. I think we had raw crab legs, crab egg dumplings, crab shabu-shabu (another hot-pot dish), and grilled crab legs. We were like fish on land. Eating crustaceans on land. It was amazing, though, but we definitely got some laughs from the waitstaff. 

After paying for the meal, we dragged Matt around for the next few hours, all the way through Dotonbori and into American Village, Amemura. 

Two years ago: about where I live
Three years ago: cinnamon bread

I don't think anyone knew where we were going, as we ducked into some alley slash museum slash shrine and ended up face-to-face with a city cemetery, were flushed back out into the shopping streets, wandered into and out of stores and finally found the American area. It was so like Omotesando and Cat Street in Tokyo. I almost wanted to cry. 

But another part of me wondered what they really think American style/culture is like, looking at the stores they had in American Village. In the end, we found our lunch-time dessert at a Hawaiian restaurant that served parfaits with little pies on top. 

After Matt had to leave, we back-tracked south towards Kitchen Street. It's a shopping arcade called "Kitchen Tool Street," and in it you can find...things for kitchens. I bought fake food and some chopsticks. I really wanted the neon restaurant signs, though, and the receipt books were calling out to me. 

Apparently, Osaka City is one of the top food cities in the world, and it's home to a well-known cooking school in Japan. So, naturally, why wouldn't I want to live here?

Nom ya later, bro

Nick P.