Day 34: Osaka – Kameoka 40km

100920We tried to sleep in this morning, as we didn’t get to bed until 3AM, but as always, it was far too hot to stay in the car any longer, so we gave up and headed to a nearby sento/onsen to freshen up for the day.  It wasn’t anything special, but it was great to be clean again.  On an slightly unrelated note, I can’t stand the constant sweating that we’re doing here in Kansai… I don’t know how people can live here. It was also a convenient place to leave the Delica for the day while we went and explored the centre on the ‘cub.

Osaka CastleToday we wanted to go explore Osaka.  We stopped firstly at Osaka Castle, walking around the (extensive) grounds in 30˚+ heat.  The castle is a recreation (they have a habit of burning down, would love to know how much it would cost to insure against fire…), but they say it’s a faithful one.  It was quite an impressive castle, really livened up by the gold detailing.  Almost as impressive were the stonewalls.  Some of the rocks were enormous!  The walls were over 20m high, and several kilometres in circumference.  The manpower that created that blows my mind.

Osaka Shinsekai Osaka ShinsekaiIt was way too hot to stay any longer, so, content we jumped on the ‘cub and headed for Shin-Sekai (new world) for a wonder around.  It was a fair way south of where we were, so it took some time to get there (and again we were thankful that we were able to explore so easily on the ‘cub).  Once there, it felt like we were back in Taiwan (minus the Chinese signage).  It was certainly a dirtier/older part of Osaka/Japan, but it was somewhere that we were eager to go and explore.

Osaka Shinsekai Osaka ShinsekaiIt did seemed quite geared towards tourists, being filled with restaurants offering the local speciality that is kushi-katsu (small chucks of meat/vegetables/things on a skewer, crumbed and fried).  There were restaurants everywhere.  Risa had been recommended a few places from friends last night, but we didn’t have any luck finding them (at the time), so we went to somewhere that looked interesting.  Not really sure what to order (and only feeling like a snack), we got an assortment of kushi-katsu to try.  In the assortment was a scallop, prawn, small fish (whole) and a few different bit of meat.  The crumbed and fried treats are dipped into a (Worcestershire like) sauce (but only once, double dipping was forbidden) and then eaten.  We also ordered a small plate of yaki-buta (bbq’d pork) that was suggested to us by the waitress.  Kushi-katsu was alright, something that was worth trying, though (besides from the negative health effects) it’s not something I’d want to eat frequently, unlike the delicious yaki-buta (which is also probably quite unhealthy, especially with the delicious, delicious Japanese style mayonnaise).

Osaka Shinsekai Osaka ShinsekaiWe finished up and kept walking around the area, finding a few random porn cinemas (complete with romantic seats for couples).  We weren’t quite bothered enough to pay the ¥1200 fee for a ticket, so we kept on walking.

Osaka ShinsekaiOsaka ShinsekaiNot hungry, but always keen for food, I popped into a gyoza (fried dumpling) chain store when I saw a sign for ¥200 jumbo gyoza.  The sign was a lie, it wasn’t jumbo, it was just six regular gyoza.  Still, cheap and delicious snack that I didn’t need, but still greatly enjoyed.

Osaka Shinsekai

Done with Shin-Sekai, we tried to head back to Shin-Saibashi (where all the bars/clubs were last night) to do some shopping (H&M store, yay!).  On the way, we came to an area that felt even more like Taiwan than Shin-Sekai.  The crazy traffic (both vehicular and pedestrian), the smells, the grime, the shops, the alleys.  We were interested, but not enough to get off the scooter, instead just taking random turns through the small streets filling our senses with everything that was there.  From there we quickly stopped in Denden Town (an area filled with electronic goods as well as animation, games … and porn, described as Osaka’s Akihabara).  Not really needing anything, we didn’t waste time shopping (though, of course there was plenty there that I wanted).  While walking around, we spotted an answer to one of our questions.  How is the garbage cleared?  By women dressed in anime costumes.  Of couse there are cosplay cleaners cleaning the streets of Osaka.  We’d been lucky twice with traffic cops in Osaka.  Twice we’d parked in questionable locations, and twice as we were leaving, they were coming.  Leaving Denden town was the second time.

Last night we’d spoken to a parking ticket cop and asked about legal parking in Shin-Saibashi, to which he told us of a ¥200 place not far from where we were.  Having just missed out on a ticket for the second time, we went back there today.  It was an interesting system, and at first I thought it was to protect our bikes, but the chain that you have to put through your bike and back into the locking machine is to make sure that you pay before you can leave.  Anyone could pay the ¥200 and take your bike, if it was the only anti-theft defence you had.

Osaka Osaka OsakaWe had a rough plan for the afternoon/evening.  Some landmark photos (Glico and some random drumming puppet), some shopping (buying winter stuff in H&M), some people watching (drinking a bubble tea and watching the crowds in American Village) then dinner at a Chinese restaurant that was described as “the best outside of America”.  Not really the best claim, but both of us felt like Chinese, so we added it to our to-do-list.

Osaka OsakaThe restaurant, Chinese Café Eight, was on the fifth floor of the H&M building, the kind of location that is sure to be quite pricey.  I was actually worried (due to the crowds outside) that this place might be booked, based on the recommendations that we’d received.  It wasn’t.  There were plenty of tables in a wide/open restaurant.  The décor…  I really don’t know what they were trying to achieve when they did the interior design.  I guess the biggest question was “how do giant sculptures of breasts, vagina/butts and penises on the wall in anyway connect to Chinese cuisine?”  Not wanting to ask (and unable to guess) we tried to just ignore them.  Instead, we made ourselves busy with the menu.  The friends that had recommended the restaurant had also recommended just ordering lots of appetisers as they were filling and negated the need for a main meal.  So, that’s what we did.  Prawn dim-sum, kimchi dim-sum, duck, Chinese sausage (which tasted like China town smells), vegetables, soup and after our time in Taiwan, we had to order Xiao Long Bao (though, for some reason Risa chose them with cuttlefish egg filling).  The appetisers ranged from ¥100 ~ ¥300, with the most expensive thing being the five Xiao Long Bao at ¥500.  It was good Chinese, though certainly not the best that I’ve had, and not even the best that I’ve had in Japan (though, Risa was less than satisfied).  I optimistically hoped that maybe the mains were better.

Osaka OsakaIt was 8PM and we still had to get back to the onsen/sento where we parked the Delica, drive to meet Risa’s friend (whose carpark we slept in last night) and drive to a michi-no-eki between Osaka and Kyoto.  And, I was already ready for bed.

On the drive out of Osaka, we were constantly driving up a slope, suddenly we turned a corner and we were once again free of city lights.  There was nothing, just darkness.  It felt like such a long time since we’d had that feeling, and it was amazing.  I enjoyed Osaka, but I wasn’t sad to be free again.  Now, it was just a challenge to stay awake for another 30 minutes of driving over the dark/windy mountain road, which clearly I did.  We arrived at the Kameoka michi-no-eki, unpacked the bike/bed, brushed our teeth and passed out, exhausted at 11:30PM.

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1 Comment

  1. this brings back fond memories of my recent trip to Osaka…love it 🙂 you did a great Glico Man post 🙂 cute!

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