Best city in Japan?
19.09.2014 - 20.09.2014 24 °C
On the move again today, from Hakone to Osaka. We're getting better at the relatively early starts; in reception ten minutes prior to 9am pickup today. Punctuality is super important in Japan, i.e. your being ten minutes early is expected and factored into transit times it seems. For those who know me well, you'll be smiling wryly at how much of a challenge this presents, and Scott is smiling with you as he encourages "come on Anna, it's rude to be late in Japan"...punctual Bakers!.
We said goodbye to the gorgeous mountains as we travelled from Hakone back to Odawara station, where we boarded another bullet train. This is obvious but they go so so fast, which you don't realise when aboard, but blimey do you when one screams past you if it's not stopping at the station you're at. As a result of the warp speed, we travel 430km to Osaka in just over two hours (don't freak out mum but they don't have seat-belts, eek!!).
The first thing to say about Osaka is that Japan's second city is another sprawling metropolis like the first, and coming in from the 'countryside' we really noticed the contrast of the tall buildings and neon signs, not yet lit as it's only lunch time. Straight to our hotel to drop off heavy bags and refresh before a walkabout.
Slight deviation now - It might sound odd but you hear a fair bit about fancy Japanese toilets, and we felt they deserved a mention, the array of washing and drying options really is true, typically with heated seats, in all but public toilets in our experience so far. We've also learned why they are so; aside from the futuristic tech side of Japan, cleansing is really important here, including it seems, one's bottom!
Right, anyway, Osaka. Can be summed up in two words; EXTREMELY. COOL. We went out from Saturday afternoon to night time and it was literally like the best bits of London grouped together. We wandered from an eight-storey sports shop (Ollie has a new football) to uber stylish clothes/record shop/cafe area, to garden square where Ollie and I played with new football (and catch with some Japanese kids "Daddy I made some new fwends*") whilst Scott went to said record shop (Flake Records) before dinner. After dinner we ended up in the teenage hangout part of town with Punks and Grunge kids smiling at Ollie as we walked past shop after shop selling what might-not-be-totally-genuine branded things at very reasonable prices! We are going to hang out here some more tomorrow (Osaka, not with the teens especially) it's so good, before heading to Kyoto. Suffice to say we are feeling Japanese and we like it a lot!!!
- * note this is not a typo! Ollie is not saying 'r' yet, so friends is "fw-ends". Either cute or nauseating, as you like. To add to the cuteness/nausea he bought some biscuits in a shop and said thank you "arigato" in Japanese, ahhh.
NB: There is a lack of photos of this leg of our trip due to our camera being lost...we are back up and running now with camera no.2 though so not much of a gap!