Japan travels: Day 1

I haven’t had time to put together a blog post this week, so instead enjoy some of my notes from my visit to Japan in April 2009…

Okay, so….day 1. I arrived in Osaka at 6:06 in the morning, about 8 minutes after sunrise. It would have been beautiful if I’d gotten some sleep on the plane. I kept waking up everytime the drinks cart went by so I could order another Bourbon and Cola. Gotta get my money’s worth on the flight, you know!

Anyway, after a little wandering around trying to find an ATM, I hopped on my first Japanese train. It’s true, they’re clean and fast and run on time. I think there’s two systems of trains: the government-assisted JR trains (the ones I can travel on for free), and then each region has one or more ‘private rail systems’, that are wholly owned and run by private companies. Sometimes the systems share stations, sometimes they split them down the middle. Seems complex, but it’s actually surprising how simple it ends up being once I’m down on the platform. And a bit of healthy market competition never hurt anyone, did it?

My first night is at the Osaka International Youth Hostel, which is actually about 20 minutes out of Osaka by train. It’s surrounded by this amazing park, which literally has forests of cherry blossoms and some kind of fir or conifer trees I think. Overall, it’s overwhelmingly more pretty than any garden I’ve ever been to in Australia. This park ALSO has tennis courts, batting cages, swimming pools and waterlides!! And it’s topped off with three of the most amazing children’s playgrounds I have EVER EVER witnessed in my history of being an on and off traceur. I can’t wait to come back here when I’m training again. Seriously. I jizzed in my pants – NO! Not in front of the children!

Well, my next stop was Tennoji. My aim was to visit Spa World and have my first public bath (and to shower and change out of yesterday’s clothes), but I forgot about that when I found out Tennoji zoo was in front of me :). I spent most of the day wandering around the zoo getting sunburnt (despite the help of a lovely old lady who came over to let me know I still had ‘shiro’ on my face when I thought I’d rubbed the sunscreen in completely). And seing all the Japanese children and their milfs at the zoo made me realise I find Japanese kids ridiculously cute! I want one!! Stealing is an option I suppose, but I’m sure there’s a more fun way of going about it :)

After aimlessly wandering around Osaka station looking for the WiFi promised in my guide book (the cafe was closed and there was no wifi network), I had my first attempt at ordering something in Japanese – a coffee. The counter girl found it very amusing, because I tried to order ‘kohi shiro’ (coffee white). Turns out it’s much more obvious than that: ‘mirakuu kohi’ (milk coffee). Oops :)

Then, after travelling back to the Youth Hostel, I had my first bath (solo, and didn’t last long because I got bored of sitting in the water staring at the wall), FINALLY changed my clothes, and then missed supper :). Providence then had me staring at a voucher vending machine, trying to decide on a dish based purely on how hot the 2cm thumbnail picture looked. I took a lucky guess, and had the best soup I’ve ever tasted as a result!

On a side note, there seems to be a huge number of Japanese that wear medical facial masks out in public (especially on the trains). To each there own, they still seem eager enough to smile and strike up a conversation, but I admit it does kinda weird me out a little. But then I think they had the same reaction to me when I was walking through the park barefoot :)

That’s day 1, and I sign off with a feeling that it’s going to be a full and interesting holiday

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