Thursday, June 13, 2013

Osaka part 1




Osakajo, or Osaka Castle
In Osaka. Getting here was one of the most stressful travel experiences of my life. I hadn't slept the night before my flight because the flight was at 6am and I wanted the extra time to cap off game of thrones with Marcia and finalize packing. Ended up with me at 3am, when I should have already left, tearing through my luggage with my mom because I realized I hadn't been very selective when packing and would definitely be overweight. Left at 345, luckily Marcia drives like a madwomen and we didn't arrive too late to IAH. My bag was overweight by 15 pounds, and so I started throwing shit out willy nilly. I hope I won't have any regrets when I get to Taiwan. Security gave me a run around, the chick sent me to the back of the line for some reason and then shift changed so refused to explain why, my shit's all overpacked so pulling out my laptop is a chore, I get to the gate as it's boarding so I have no time to get like a water or anything. I sleep the whole way to LA and so I don't realize that we landed an hour late.

Osaka is obscenely hot. I am so sunburnt right now.
They say the time, I set my watch blissfully unaware, thinking I'll have time to sit down, transfer some movies to my laptop, finally eat some real breakfast. I check my ticket, panic, sprint to my next flight, and board 5 minutes before they close the doors. I gotta pee, I'm dying of thirst, but whatever, I'm on my plane. A plane that is really hot.

The AC was broken, and the pilot spent 30 minutes turning the plane on and off. I was supposed to have a 30 minute layover in San Francisco before my flight to Osaka. I start panicking again, check the flight to Osaka, and see that it's delayed an hour and a half. Saving grace. Layovers get kicked off the plane. We wait in line for the guy at the gate to get us tickets somehow. He goes about as slowly as you can and makes sure to answer his phone whenever it rings and spend a nice long time on it instead of saying "I'm busy reticketing a massive line of furious Japanese people don't call this desk." The Japanese people start getting rowdy, something I've never seen before and so terrified me. Our flight gives a departure time of 10. 1.5 hour flight means I'll arrive in San Fran 30 minutes before our flight leaves. We are reboarded, said to deal with lack of AC on the left side of the plane (what) and leave at 1030.

Shitennou-ji, a very old Buddhist temple. 

I'm spending too much time on this, but basically I was 100% wired in my seat, as soon as we're at landing altitude I check the flight, it's been delayed another ten. We land, I jump out of my seat with my bags, and they have trouble opening the door. I walk as politely as possible out and then sprint with something like 20 pounds on my back and dragging another 20 behind me throughout SFO to my flight, which wasn't even boarding yet anyway. So, I made it, and since I had been so thoroughly exhausted by my travel I got a head start on killing jet lag by sleeping in Japan time anyway.

This is our hotel room. It is so tiny.

Tanchin picked me up to our mutual joy and we hopped on a train for an hour to our hotel. Got off and found it was literally off the tracks, but man the place is tiny. Shared showers, hot springs style, and only from 5pm-10pm, so every night I get to hang with naked old Japanese dudes and every morning I am in the bathroom trying to tame my hair in the sink. Also the AC is only on during the day. But whatever, it was like 70 bucks for the full three days. And, the internet works, sort of.

Big pimpin on the seventh floor. I think this hotel really only has men staying in it. We can see a guy across the way sitting in his room in his underwear chain smoking.

We didn't do much that night. Just headed down to Tennoji, which is a little businessy mall-like area down the street from us, and derped around.


Tokyo was guilty of this, but ti's even more prominent in Osaka. The zoning laws in Japan allow for these itty bitty skinny buildings jammed in next to eachother. I always thought it was fascinating that they would build like this, and it must mean there are tons of small real estate owners throughout Japan. Tanchin says it's because of earthquakes but I think she misunderstood and thought I meant height, not width. Besides, there are tons of massive, American-sized buildings, even in Osaka. 
That sign's eyes...
Everything in Japan is small

Cool clock


Tanchin getting squished

Next day we went to do a bunch of outdoorsy stuff. Hit up a buddhist temple first.



It had these little wheel things, something I've never seen at a temple before. You were supposed to spin them
The tower in the right is the one we went into later
The well reflects the picture of the dragon hanging above it
The whole place was like one giant zen garden. You can see the rake marks. There was paths to walk on, not supposed to walk on the gravel.
It has a ball... a dragon ball...
Cool lanterns. Wish we could have seen it at night
Wasn't supposed to take this picture. A minute after a monk, in true Japanese fashion, came running back to his post from whatever distraction he had been at. 
Some dude's grave, glassed over


Part of a pictographic story of buddha's birth to death. The art was really well done and I wish I had taken more pictures but this was the only spot hidden from the ever vigilant monk not paying attention. 

Inside of the tall tower. When we went in we saw this ancient looking door in the middle of the tower and Tanchin was convinced there was just a dead dude in the middle. When we walked around to the other side it was a very well lit and well made stairway to the top. 
Turns out it was a million dead dudes. There were cabinets full of these all the way up 4 stories. Each one has a name on it. 
The thing at the top. Kewl. Pretty good view from up there but nothing  worth taking a picture of. 
My favorite kind of tree.
We saw people like this all throughout Osaka, just sitting and drawing stuff. I think it's cool that Japanese people will just go and do that sort of thing, never really see that in the US. 

Tanchin won't stop freaking about my pink shorts
After we left the temple, we came across this really cool covered alley.

We ate, drank a buttload of water, laughed at some white dude who was stoically ignoring us (which I don't get, you're a laowai dude, you can't pretend you're Japanese and we share nothing in commmon) and headed off to the castle. 
Big mysterious building.
The brightness was playing havoc with my exposure
There's this big ass desert thing on the way to the castle. I'd say it was a part of the defenses, as apparently it was built to be the ultimate impenetrable fortress, but there was forest all around so I don't think that's true. 
A moat. Seemed deep. 
Lots of different levels, second level even had another  moat

CALEB WAS THERE
Look how big these granite blocks are. They are huge. There were like a million of these. I don't know how they dragged them up the hill. 
heat. Also pollen. I'm on anti histamines because I strongly suspect 80% of my misery the last time I was in Japan was just allergies. 
These birds were rubbing dirt all over them. Weird. i took a video, it's on my yotuube channel. 

The castle in all it's glory. I feel like that must be real gold because it is not at all tarnished. Then again, if it was something else, it would only be the Japanese that could keep it so perfectly polished. The white makes me think of western influences, I never really see that in Japanese traditional architecture. 
The walls were huuuuuuge
Japanese zoning, man. Made me think of Up. 
This reminds me of my plane tickets to Taiwan. They're through "HAPPY PEACH HAPPY AIRLINES" and I keep getting HAPPY emails about my HAPPY PEACH POINTS HAPPILY PLEASE SPEND ON HAPPY JOY UPGRADE
Free monster at just the right time. Was about to crash. Also tiny. 
After the castle Tanchin and I walked 30 miles to a porcelain museum. I had thought it would be closer or I would have never suggested the damn place. I was close to heat stroke like 50 times and only made it because of strategically placed 7/11s with ice cream.

On a hotel...
This dude was in front of the urinal. Pretty sure it says "men's day." 
This is what shrimp sushi is supposed to look like. 

We walked around forever last night. I was getting sore and grumpy but making the best of it. We spent a while in the most Tokyoesque place Osaka has to offer, trying to find some kaiten sushi, or train sushi. When we got there, forcing ourselves to get back on our feet was the hardest thing ever. Anyway, we ate, made our way another 30 miles to our train, glomped into the hotel and I shamelessly naked-chilled in the awesome hot tub they have in the men's shower thing for like an hour. It's on the roof and has a great view of the city but there are like 5 buildings taller than us that can definitely see straight into the little area.