One week of travelling – Osaka

In the last week, I took the chance to spend some days with friends, whom I haven’t met in a long time and travelled across the country to meet them. The first stop of this journey was Osaka, where a German friend of mine, Lea, from Hamburg University is currently doing some work and travel. I went there by bus from Tokyo and while I was pleasantly surprised by the on-board entertainment system, the most peculiar fact about this bus was its cute design.

Travel BusAfter arriving in Osaka in the evening, we just spent the firstevening chatting, watching movies and doing nothing much. So we had a lot of energy saved for the second day, for which we decided to go to Osaka Castle and into the city for some window shopping. Osaka castle is located fairly in the center of the city and the old castle grounds, except for the main tower are nowadays designed as a huge park area. While we were there, the plum trees were already blossoming quite a lot and some kind of running event was taking place. As the weather was beautiful, many people chose the day to visit the area as well, so we were far from alone. We decided to visit the inner part of the castle as well to have a nice view from the top (and, beeing the stamp collector that I am in Japan, to collect some local stamps as well).

Afterwards we went to Namba, to enjoy some window-shopping and food. We just finished in time to be able to drive to Umeda and enjoy the sunset next to the Umeda Sky Building, which was really beautiful.

Umeda Sky Building SunsetTo top the evening off, we went to a not to be named coffee place, where they served the spring variants of their hot chocolates and milk coffees – with strawberry and sakura cherry blossom taste. Extremely delicious! On the next day, I would continue my journey and go to Kyoto, but that is a story for the next post 🙂

おいしかった!

おいしかった!

Pokémon Center Osaka

This one’s a long overdue article but I finally got around to writing it. As you might have already seen on Facebook, Ruth, Jonas and I went to the Pokémon Center in Osaka, which is one of the big merchandise stores for the Pokémon universe. As a student of Japanese Studies (and of course a big fan of the Pokémon game and anime in my childhood – no use denying it here) I definitely had to go there and pulled the other two with me.

Finding the store actually proved a bit more difficult than expected, but that is more due to my lazy reading of the map than to the location of the store. It’s located in a big shpping center directly in the Osaka main station (or Umeda station if you get there by the subway) but I somehow assumed the building would be outside of the station. So after running through some underground shopping streets we finally found the right building and went up to the right floor.

Childhood dreams came true! Everything was filled with Pokémon merchandise from plushy stuffed Pokémons over Pokémon lunchboxes to Pokémon chopsticks. Especially awesome were the hats, which were designed to make you look like your favourite little monster (or like you actually beheaded it and used its head as your hat, but I don’t want to crush childrens’ illusions here 😉 ). Obviously Jonas and I had to engage in a fierce stare-off duel to the bitter end!

Now here comes the thing: I was nearly unable to identify any Pokémon in the shop at all. Times must have changed a lot in the last years in the Pokémon world, I guess, because there were so many new monsters that I’ve never even seen at all before this day. Just look at our hats – do you know these Pokémon? We certainly had no idea. And on top of that even Pikachu wasn’t around as much as I expected.

Angry face!

With all that said, I think I’ll still visit the Pokémon Center in Tokyo when I’ll be there again in February and March just for a comparison. So stay tuned! 😉

A few hours in prison – with monsters! :D

I still haven’t blogged about my short trip to Osaka one and a half weeks earlier, so I’ll do it now, because I can’t have you un-knowing about this one. Mainly, I went there to visit my friends from Hamburg and to celebrate men’s day, but I’ll have to be silent about this event here, because it involves several light crimes against the the park order of the central park in Izumi… 😉

Instead, I present you my small trip to the prison. Not because of my violations of japanese law. Not even an actual prison. In fact, it’s much better than that! We went to the “Lock Up” in Osaka, which is a themed restaurant and is designed as some kind of a prison/science lab/ horror house – so a solid basis for a nice evening! 😀 At the entry, one of our group had to be the ‘bad boy’, who was then taken into custody by a hot japanese police officer, who led us to our table. The interiour was entirely designed to look like some kind of a medieval prison with chunky stones, wood-framed iron bars and and a certain touch of gruesome stuff – everything spiced with a measure of horror. On the menue we found a wide variety of food, including russian roulette-esque foods, where one of the pieces was filled with wasabi or worse spices. Of course we ordered those! ^^ The cocktails were all served in some chemistry equipment, to furter strenghten te laboratory image. As we all chose the all you can drink option, we were able to try nearly all of them. At around half past 9, they started a special monster show, where they dimmed all the lights, started to raise the music volume (and play some tapes with voices screaming how the monsters escaped and stuff 😀 ) and sent monsters into the restaurants, who seemed to have a lot of fun scaring the people and posing for photos – that was enormously enjoyable! On top of that, imagine a lot of japanese girls screaming because of that – priceless 😀 That was a very cool evening!

Golden Week Journey – Day 6 (Izumi)

So Friday was the last day of my Golden Week journey, before I went home and as we got to bed late all the days befor, Yannik and I decided to take it easy. We got up around midday and after thinking for a short moment, if we would go to Kyoto spontaniously, we screwed that idea quickly and opted for a small biking tour in the late afternoon in Izumi, where he lives, a bit outside of Osaka. With the sun slowly setting, we drove around the outskirts of the town and found some really nice and quiet places, which was a nice contrast to the busy cities we visited the days before. Without further ado, some nice pictures of that day 🙂

Golden Week Journey – Day 2 and 3 (Osaka)

Konnichiha! I’m back from my Golden Week journey, so it’s time for a not so small update 🙂 And even videos, omg rofl0rz, plz fix! xD

Space Ape of Doom as seen from Yannik’s balcony – it was the mascot of some pachinko parlour (as usual, click on the pictures to see better and bigger versions).

In the last article, I ended with driving to Yannik’s place and planning to do some sightseeing the next day, so I’ll  continue from there. Sunday’s dawn was long gone when we got up, but there was still plenty of time, to rock Osaka, so we met with Yannik’s buddy Keita at the station and started our tour in Nanba, which is Osakas biggest Lifestyle-/Nightlife-/Food-/Whatever-district. If you had any image of japanese cities apart from skyscrapers and temples, Namba is surely going to meet your expectations. Extremely crowded, big advertisement signs and lights everywhere, people shouting to get customers, the smell of a thousand different dishes in the air – that’s it!

The National Bunraku Theater seen from the Nanba station.

One of the big ways for pedestrians, whose name I’ve already forgotten again ^^”

People, advertisements… big crab! 😀

After we’d bought our lunch there (delicious dumplings with different fillings) we drove to the port to eat it, before we set to climb the Osaka World Trade Center, which stands about 252m high. After some trouble to find the right elevator to get to the top, we were rewarded for our trouble with a great view over the city and the Osaka bay. If the weather would have been better, we even would have been able to see as far as Kyushu, but it was sadly clouded and a bit foggy. The place also seems to be quite popular as a wedding location – if you have quite some cash, of course. It’s kinda cheesy, but still…

The Osaka World Trade Center – huge!

Eating dumplings – tasty!

View of Osaka from the WTC – nice!

We then went back into the city, Umeda district this time, which seemed to be more focused on shopping than Nanba. In the station, we met up with Chiyo, who is a friend of Keita, if i remember it correctly and then went to the HEP 5 together, which is a big Ferris wheel. Of course we went for a ride and as the sun was already going down, the city’s lights started to spur into life and  delivered a stunning illumination. As much as I love Hamburg, you don’t get such a view there – and it’s not even the end. the best is yet to come!

The HEP 5 in the not so far distance 😮

Below the HEP 5.

View from the HEP 5 – just one of the many pictures I took 🙂

With these impressions in our minds, we went window-shopping and eating again. For the latter, we chose an italian restaurant, where they served delicious pizza and pasta, while the first one was done in a shopping center near the Umeda station. In there, we found some pretty amazing things, of which I can’t show all of them now. But maybe two pictures as highlights and a slight topping of video-goodness 😉

It’s ugly as hell and looks like it’s gooing to perform some sexual action soon – what is it? I’m open for interpretations of every kind!

Son Goku and Naruto fighting a fierce battle with Ninjutsus and Kamehameha!

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To understand the video, please raise your volume and just listen – you’ll getthe irritating part around the middle of the video, when the refrain starts. We had no idea why one would sing such a song and what the intentions of the lyrics where. Something between support of victims and support of nuclear power probably 😀

Finally, we went to the Umeda Sky Building, which stands “only” 173m tall, but offers an amazing all around view over the city. And as we went there at night, the scene was even more beautiful. Without much of a comment i just want you to experience it too, even though I can only offer a few photos and a shaky video. But just try it out, it is amazing! 🙂

The Umeda Sky Building from below.

The Yodo river and its bridges at night – beautiful! 🙂

Osaka’s illuminated skyline.

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Walking around the whole platform once, to show you view all around. To me it was just stunning and I hope the video has the same effect on you, despite the quality issues. Anyone should do the same, when beeing in Osaka, it’s definitely worth it!

On the romantic platform, from left to right and down: Keita, Chiyo, Yannik and me.

I just had to take this picture – do not enter the South!

The view from the lobby – exhausted from the day. It was a good one! 🙂

With that done, we were exhausted and our feet hurt, so it was time to go back home and we returned to the dormitory. The next day was more relaxed, as we didn’t do much sightseeing, but instead just did about nothing and just went to the post office, buying food ant eat a Mega Teriyaki Burger at Mc Donalds. The Mega Mac doesn’t exist anymore, but its smaller friend was just as tasty – yummy!

Tasty burgers and standard fries. A good lunch 😀

Yummy!

That’s the end of this article. The next one should be due tomorrow, if I can find the time. I hope you liked it and always feel free to leave a comment 🙂