Slightly tired after a long day walking in the sun, festivaling, it was harder than usual to get started. That and we didn’t quite know where it was that we were going today. We had a rough plan for Osaka for a night out, but we didn’t know where we were going to sleep. The nearest michi-no-eki was quite some distance outside of town, but left with few options (people that we knew didn’t have space for us to sleep, no car parking, couchsurfing was too difficult etc) we were prepared to park and make the commute on the bike. BUT! As we were driving into Osaka, Risa contacted a friend (to arrange to meet) and he told us that there was a car park that we could freely use! He was still outside of town, but half the distance that we were originally going to have to travel.
By the time that we’d got to his house, unpacked and gotten changed for a night out, it was after 1PM. We’d been told about a Mexican Festa taking place in town (that many of the Osaka JETs were going to), so we headed in to check it out. At first, navigating through Osaka was easy. It was nearly a straight line from Risa’s friends house into town. But, once we got near the station we came into problems with one-way roads, fast moving traffic and wide roads that had to we had to change lanes across to get to the festival. We initially arrived at where the website said the festival was, but we couldn’t see anything other than a few small white tents. Feeling quite disappointed, we went to at least have a look before we left. Luckily, the white tents were just a fraction of it. The rest of the festival was inside a courtyard under a the Shin Maeda Skybridge (two towers with a large platform/bridge connecting them at the top, if that makes any sense). There was a mariachi band playing, people dancing and amazing food being sold (I love Mexican food). We stayed for a while, enjoying the music/atmosphere/food, but after an hour, the interest was waning (though, watching the kids go crazy with piñata was AWESOME).
Once we were at the festival, we found out that the friends that we were meeting weren’t coming to the festival until later in the evening. So, we decided to scooter around (blindly) and see what there was to see. Not having much luck, we tried to find a map but had even less luck with that. Back on the bike again, still riding around aimlessly we decided to go have a look at the castle, but once there we realised that we couldn’t see much from the road (and it was getting dark, and my SLR battery was flat AND I forgot the spare) we decided to leave it for tomorrow. As we were driving to the castle, we drove past a park with what looked like a Chinese festival, so we turned around to check it out. It was indeed a Chinese festival, but it was just about to finish. We managed to catch the last of a (fantastic) dragon dance performance, as well as some dregs from the food market.
It was starting to get dark, and it was about time to meet up with friends at the Mexican Festa in Shin-Maeda. By the time we returned (and the sun had set most spectacularly between buildings as we were riding towards it), the party had transformed. Gone were the parents/kids who were there before. Now it was a semi-dance party/music festival with people in full party mode. We hadn’t seen the attraction of the festival (apart from the food), until now. It was a giant party! We stayed and enjoyed the party for a while, before heading into Osaka for a proper night out. We had to separate from the group (because they were taking the train, we were going by ‘cub), but when we regrouped in Shin-Saibashi we were severely down in numbers (not that we cared too much).
A local JET recommended a small bar called Bamboo, a small (very small) shisha bar run by an Israeli man. He had quite a menu of different flavoured tobacco to try, ranging from the standard apple flavours through to fruity flavours like watermelon/guava. There was also souvlaki to be eaten, which of course I did, and it was delicious! We ordered two pipes (between the initial four of us), mixed fruits and lemon (which was the first time for the others in the group, I thought it sounded refreshing). It was a nice vibe inside the place, and other friends came/went in the hours that we spent there smoking/eating/drinking/chatting. We were even joined by a few crazy locals, including a very funny marathon man (and his soon-to-throw-up girlfriend).
We left with the intention of going out to a club, but the momentum had faded. As much fun as it would have been going to a giant club in Osaka, I was also slightly relieved as it gave me a chance to save some energy/money. Instead we headed to a nearby park in America Town (アメ村) called Triangle Park, which happened to be in the shape of a triangle. It was such a weird place to be, full of mostly young, mostly western, mostly drunk/drinking people, just sitting/standing around chatting. The mess/noise was amazing! I couldn’t think of a single place like it that I’d seen before in Japan. It was more like a scene from a (non Japanese) music festival. And, while I remember about the trash, I do wonder who cleans it all up? The place (and not just here) was full of litter. We bumped into a few of the people that we had been with at the Mexican Festa again. They’d just left a small club called Twice Café. It was a ¥1000 entrance fee, with the first drink included. BUT! The club was using glowing wrist-bands to track those who had paid (as well as a small stamp), so we borrowed the wrist-band from people who were leaving so that we could go in and have a quick look. The music wasn’t bad, but the place was quite empty and we were tired, so we called it a night and headed back to where the van was parked at Risa’s friend’s house.