Sunday, December 25, 2011

(12/19) Amazing Osaka

On Monday, we took the train to Osaka, which wasn't too far away. The first thing I noticed was that it seemed to have more litter and bad city smells but that it also seemed to have a lot of interesting places to go. Our hotel was the nicest one so far, but before we could check in we had to kill some time so we split up into two groups, the main group going to Osaka Castle with Mr. Nagashima (the other group ended up getting interviewed for the news about the death of Kim Jong Il at the place they went to). I went with the main group to Osaka Castle which was quite impressive from the outside. We even saw two guys with a giant video camera who we assumed were filming a documentary.

The inside of the castle, however, was nothing like a castle and entirely like a gutted out building turned into a museum. We checked out the museum and the view from the top of the castle, then went out to check out the gift shops and get some takoyaki (fried octopus), one of the famous street foods of Osaka along with okonomiyaki. While eating our lava-hot takoyaki, one of the people in our group noticed two people with backpacks running around being chased by a cameraman and sound guy.

Then someone in our group suggested that they might be on the Amazing Race, but I wasn't sure because I couldn't see any of the telltale red and yellow Amazing Race flags or bright yellow clues. But the possibility was irresistible so I ran after them to get a closer look. They seemed to go the wrong way once, then spotted their goal from the top of some stairs/a wall. My group was also leaving so on the way out I kept a lookout for any route markers for the Amazing Race and then saw a camera crew on a hill interviewing the team we saw earlier. Upon getting closer we were able to see the show's host and discover that it was indeed The Amazing Race. I got a picture and snuck as close as I could to get another one through the bushes before one of the show's crew noticed me and asked me to leave.

One of the people in our group asked if it was The Amazing Race, even though it was now obvious that it was, and the guy said he didn't know and that it was some Korean show, which I hear is what they're required to say when asked. It was hard to tell but I think the team we saw got eliminated. Maybe. Honestly I have no idea.

After returning and checking into our hotel, some of us headed out to check out the Studio Ghibli store in Osaka which we had assumed was particularly big since it was specifically mentioned on the schedule. In reality, it was significantly smaller than the one in Kobe and the one I went to in Otaru, but it was still cool. We also got some neat Harry Potter collectibles out of one of the many capsule dispensers and stopped at the Osaka Pokemon Center which ended up being quite big and fancy, with lots of people of all ages standing around playing DS and buying Pokemon merchandise.

In the evening, Dai and I ventured out to an onsen from a guide pamphlet and were able to find it and use it on our own. At the onsen, which was on the roof of a building, we removed our shoes, bought tickets from a machine for entry and towels to rent and then brought those tickets to the counter to receive our towels and continue in toward the changing room. In the changing room were lockers for putting in all of your clothes. Next was the same as on the International Camp trip: shower, then soak in any of the variety of hot baths, scented baths, cold baths, or in the sauna. Surprisingly, there was more variety than at the onsen we went to previously. After that we went back to the hotel feeling quite refreshed.

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