I wanted to spend my last free weekend day actually going to see Osaka. I’ve already been once, but only saw the station and the inside of Yodobashi Camera, which really doesn’t do the place justice.
From anime references, I wanted to make sure to go see Tsutenkaku Tower. It’s not all that tall anymore by most standards, but there was a great view of the city from the top. I stood in line for about 40 minutes for the privilege but it was a fun experience that seems to be only interesting to the locals—I was the only non-Japanese tourist in the whole place. The tower is located in the famous Shinsekai neighborhood which is filled with bustling shops with interesting and entertaining signs out front. I ate lunch there at one of the little Kushi-yaki (I think that’s the name) restaurants. Basically, you can get anything fried up on a stick for around ¥100 each—really tasty, fast and cheap.
The whole tower experience took a bit longer than I’d planned, so I kind of decided to forego Osaka-jo Castle (which I saw in ’06) and instead go to the Kato Hobby Center. I wanted to make sure to buy a recently re-released train set that has been unavailable for the last two years. See what I mean about not enough time to see everything? But then, life is a series of tradeoffs…
The final destination was the Osaka Aquarium, which turned out to be really spectacular. It’s one of the world’s largest saltwater aquariums, and is famous for the pair of Whale Sharks they have there. They also had about the largest collection of Jellyfish I’ve ever seen (at least 40 different kinds—beautiful). I just wish I had more time—there’s a ferris wheel, lots of shops, boat rides, a view of the harbor…sigh. Had dinner at Yodobashi Camera’s restaurant floor again and came home.
I made my way home via the Kyoto Station to see if I can get reservations on the overnight train to Hokkaido for next weekend—sadly, they closed at 5:00, and I wasn’t there until later. I’ll try again tomorrow. By the time I got back to the dorms it was getting late and I was exhausted. So much for getting extra rehearsal done for my speech.