As the title says, it really was ‘Osaka the Beautiful’. Im getting to the point where Im forgetting all the great things I see every day, so even though I was only in Osaka less than 24 hours stretched over 2 days, im going to keep this shorter than usual and make this the only part of this 5 day post. Let me see if I can run by some observations first that ive noticed and wanted to mention. Well the other day at the Park City shopping centre (centRE maria, happy now?) i was walking around with Ash and her friends and ran into Pepsi Shoes! Yes, they make shoes. I got the impression they just havent been able to get a good hold into the Nippon market in the beverage business (Coke is really the only Cola you see here ever) so they might us well try to crack it somehow, so why not shoes? They look ok, normal looking casual sneakers, but you can tell they are cheaply made by the feel of them, and the price of 1998YEN, which is around $18. But of course I had to buy a pair, so even though I hate Pepsi, i will proudly wear their crap shoes. :)
Also in soft drink news, one of my biggest complaints is that you are unable to get Coke with Lemon at home. Of course they have Diet Coke with Lemon, and Pepsi Twist, but not regular Coke with Lemon. Well even though Cola isnt as big here as at home, they are smart enough to have it here! I bought a small can of it on Thursday and it was delicious of course. Not as good as I had hoped, but I liked it none-the-less, and have saved the can for all eternity. Oh and another thing I love here is that it so easy to pay bills here. They do not have checks whatsoever here, you dont get paid by check and you cant pay anything at all by checks, they simply dont have them. So when you get paid its either by cash or a direct deposit into your bank account. So since you cant pay bills by check and you cant obviously go to company headquarters to pay your bills, you go to the convenience store! You take your receipt to any convenience store and hand them the receipt and give them cash and they mark your account, throw the money in the register, and give you a receipt. They also take these utility bills very seriously. Ash paid her electric bill just a few days late here, and one day when she came home they shut off her electric right away, so she went to pay it at the store around the corner, and when she walked home there was already a serviceman putting it back on! Efficiency is key in Japan and its quite an amazing thing. One other thing I love about Japan is it being a collectivist society. Unlike America and more western societies that are all about the individual, alot of countries in Asia (Japan, China, Korea) are more about the ‘group’. There are obviously good things and bad things about both ways of going about society, but its very refreshing to be in a place like Japan where everything is thought about in the sense of how what you do will effect the whole, and the good of the community or nation as a whole. Simple things show this. For instance when you are walking around here and you just finished a nice cold Pocari Sweat, you find you have nowhere to throw out the bottle. NOWHERE! Its very hard to find a rubbish can anywhere because recycling is taken VERY VERY seriously here and it shows in having a clean place to live everywhere you go. If you had rubbish cans everywhere like at home it actually tends people to litter more, cause if you cant find a trash can, then ‘fuck it, ill throw it wherever I want’. In Japan you hold onto your trash until you are lucky enough to find a recycling bin (hardly ever to you really find a ‘trash’ can here), or you hold onto it until you get home. Its happened to me alot just being here just 2 weeks. Many times ive had to hold onto my trash until the end of the day when i get home. But its worth it cause not only are you recycling which benefits everyone around you, but you keep everything clean which benefits all around you as well. Of course this isnt true everywhere as Mexico and India are considered ‘collectivist’ and they are not exactly clean, but in Japan at least this is an example of how they are.
Anyway, Osaka. In short, it was fantastic. We actually didnt get into Osaka until around 7pm, at which point we got off at Shinsaibashi subway stop. Shinsaibashi and Namba are probably really considered the heart of Osaka. Its very crowded, very packed, lots of shopping in all aspects, including high end stuff like Hermes and Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana, all that kind of stuff. We really lucked out in finding that the Comfort Inn of all places has a hotel right in the heart of this massive area with cheap rooms (about $90 a night). Of course the rooms are tiny although modern, especially for Comfort Inn, with flat screen TV’s and the works. All rooms in Japan are tiny as space is limited, wherever you go, places are small. But it was a nice hotel room and it was very comfortable. The trick was finding the place. You see, they dont have street names here! I think its Japan in general, but i dont know how they do it outside of the city, cause in Osaka, everything is pinpointed by where the nearest subway stop is. So ok yeah we get off at Shinsaibashi, then what? No joke, you just get out of the stop and walk around and go down random streets and turns and try to find it! We probably could have taken a cab, but whats the fun in that? It didnt take us that long actually, maybe a half hour after getting out of our stop, but imagine getting in Osaka for the first time and youve never been abroad and dont read any Japanese (as Ash luckily can), you would LOSE your mind. SO do taxi drivers just somehow know where everything is? I dont get it. Even when youre walking around you get lost easily if you dont pay attention to anything cause their are no street signs to use as markers to guide you back home! We were lucky as we had another cool little view from our hotel room, and even a nice clean rust fee (of course, its Japan) fire escape to walk out on and see the view. I took plenty of pictures to share which ill post early next week so you can see. At least we didnt get a capsule hotel, which is big here in Japan, again because of space issues. You really have this space age futuristic white capsules that are just big enough for a person to slip in and and fall asleep in for the night. So you can stack these up and have a large amount of people staying in your hotel, and you each still have your own ‘privacy’, and for a cheaper rate! They also have ‘love hotels’ here, where you can either pay for a ‘REST’ or you can ‘STAY’. Im sure you can figure out the difference between the two! I thought I had a sense of what Tokyo might be like from Hiroshima, but i knew the second we got to Osaka that i still had no idea until arriving here. Ashley says I definitely have an idea now as Osaka is quite similar in terms of neon lights, and crowds at least, but I cant wait to see Tokyo one day. Osaka is the second smallest prefecture land wise in Japan, yet has the second largest population, so basically they pack just under 9 million people in a very very small area. Tokyo is considered I guess the more modern metropolitan city while Osaka is the more dirty, ‘real’ city of Japan. To be honest I didnt see that dirty side of it, as it felt very modern here. One dirty thing though is the Japanese businessman here. They all seem like scumbags and they probably are. They travel in packs (collectivist!) and they never ever seem to take those damn suits off. Maybe cause they work 7 days a week i guess, all i know there are so many factors and reasons why they all seem so sketchy and sad, and they all seem to be on the prowl after these Japanese girls. They never ever feel threatening in anyway, they just seem very sketchy and scummy. Off with their heads! We walked around for about 4 hours that night. We went to a Mexican restaurant that Ash likes that was on the 8th floor of this building (everything is about going UP UP UP in terms of living and building new businesses. You take the elevator and one floor is one store. So in other words buildings can be quite small and narrow so a tiny restaurant on the 8th floor has its own floor). It was really good and a good atmosphere except for these horrible awful Americans who were waiting to be seated who just looked at us like we were the creeps when we asked them a simple question. Anti-social rich kid morons. URGH. Speak when you are spoken to you fucking fucks. :) Also we sat next to this big rough Japanese businessman and his lady friend who were chain smoking right next to us. I thought he could have been the Japanese mafia (as Osaka is the hdqtrs. of the mafia here supposedly) but i guess you can tell if one is in the mafia here supposedly if he has one fingertip missing! After dinner we walked around these packed open air and closed air streets I guess you would say. Some buildings looked as if each and every side of buildings were just completely made up of neon signs, edge to edge neon signs as far as the eye could see. It was so bright and bizarre. For the first time I really felt like I was in a city of the future, the kind of image you think Japan to be like from pictures and movies. Everywhere is just spotless clean, everyone is polite and kind beyond imagination, the bright neon everywhere and gigantic mega screens like you have at sports stadiums, but 300x as large, everyone speaking this strange language that makes no sense, and millions of people packed in like sardines moving as fast as ligthing, dressed in their haphazard BIZARRE clothing of the future! The way people dress here is just psychotic. And this is a good thing. People just where whatever the hell they want, what I mean is just pick up whatever is on the floor, doesnt matter how big or how small, and you especially dont have to worry about the clothes matching. Just put it on and go out, you will look good, and they do look good, most of them. One thing that is really out of control is hair. You feel like you are in the future but its like you are in the 1980’s all over again. Guys LITERALLY look they all have haircuts out of the 80’s band A Flock of Seagulls. All teased and feathered and the guys even have the big puffs of hair that looks like a hair explosion on their foreheads. As Ashley said, its every hard to tell sometimes if someone walking towards you is a guy or a girl. Girls have big hair as well, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesnt, but alot of the time its just to big for their heads. Ok i was supposed to keep this short! HA! The bottom line is Osaka was fantastic. Futuristic, beautiful, friendly, intense, colorful and bizarre. I really cant wait to come back here soon.
So this is my last post from Japan and I must say I have nothing but amazing feelings about this place. Beautiful people, positive vibes and just a magical place in all respects, and I leave here with but nothing but admiration for the landscape and all the people here. I had a great trip, and again, Ashley was a fantastic host and thank her so much for letting me stay with her for so long.
I cant wait to come back here.
Arigato gozai mashita!
PS That picture isnt mine, but I got a few of my own of this Harajuku Free Style!