Monday, October 31, 2011


Monday, the day after the marathon, dawned fresh and bright, and I wheezed and groaned and gradually extricated myself from my bed. Although we have a very nice room in the hotel, with a bed, and an internet connection, and some semblance of a wardrobe, the only view from our window is of three metal-clad walls, which gave us no clue as to the weather outside. The internet, too, was a unhelpful servant, as it turns out that the BBC's view of the weather in Osaka (raining) and the Weather Channel's forecast (raining all morning, sort of sunny later) were both way off: it was a lovely, sunny day, the kind that makes you regret tooling outside in a corduroy jacket and thick jeans.

I generally regretted leaving the hotel at all, because every step (especially downwards) was a punishment. While we might be walking around outside with lovely clean air, lovely polite Japanese people and lovely food to eat, it's hard to enjoy it wholeheartedly when every step is a reason to squeak in pain. Or perhaps I'm angry at myself for letting us waste an hour on Dotombashi Photo, with the LOUDEST MUSIC KNOWN TO MANKIND, when we could have been reacquainting ourselves with every flavour that Krispy Kreme has to offer. After four hours of almost constant pain on Sunday, doing anything less than a million press-ups and screaming at the heavens was something of an anticlimax, but you can't be crazy every day of the week. Unless you're crazy, I suppose.

Taking the easy route out and spending time in second-hand camera shops / eating lots of breakfasts may not be as heroic, but it's not something to be ashamed of either.

Not to say that we spent the whole day shopping and stuffing our faces. After all, Osaka is blessed with a great variety of museums. All of which are closed on Mondays, so we drank some coffee in Osaka Station City, and then some coffee in Harbis (a mall opposite the station) where they draw wonderful pictures on your latte, and then took a train four stops south to Namba, to look for a udon shop that may have only existed when the guidebook was written seven years ago.

One wonderful thing about the Osaka subway is that you buy tickets by price, not destination, so it's easy to choose a ticket which isn't valid all the way from Umeda to Namba (4 stops). But being Japanese, they were sensible enough to have Commutation Machines installed in the stations - before trying to go through the station gates, you put your ticket into the machine, and it tells you how much more money to add. Of course, being Japanese they were also mental when they designed the user interface - there's a big display saying "Press the English button" with "English" highlighted on the screen in yellow on a blue oblong. Next to a blue oblong with "English" written in it in yellow. Why they needed this superfluousness, when a button with "English" on it should be enough for anyone who wants to work the machine in English, is beyond me. Maybe somebody was being paid by the pixel for the design of the machine's screen.

We came out of Namba in Namba Hips, ten floors of deafening pachinko and slot machines (but the facade of the building is very nice) and then wandered down to a street near Dotombori where we found an okonomiyaki joint. Down a flight of stairs, which my poor quadriceps have not forgiven me for. Okonomiyaki is Japanese for "filthy great pancake of noodles with barbecue sauce and mayonnaise" which sounds disgusting but is absolutely wonderful, although as it all had lots of lovely meat in it I wimped out and had yakisoba instead, before we retreated to the hotel, picked up our luggage and headed back to Kansai airport.

All in all, much too short a trip. Next time we go to Osaka we'll try to spend at least a week, and won't have stupid interruptions like marathons in the middle of our stay.

Or will we? Hmm...


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