Thursday, November 05, 2015

Osaka ‘15, Day 2 – Exploring Dotonbori

The plane drove to its gate and people started to gather their things. Since we were sitting at the back of the plane, it would take a while for us to be able to leave, so my mom and I calmly collected our things and packed our bags. I was very glad that I was feeling much better all of a sudden. When the plane arrived at the gate, it took a while before people started moving, as we had anticipated, but suddenly everyone was gone and we were (again) the only ones left. I quickly checked our seats and finally, we left the plane as well.
We walked into the airport and followed the signs up an elevator, through some halls and past some ‘Welcome to KIX’ and ‘Welcome to Kansai’ signs.

Welcome to Kansai
Welcome to Japan~!

It felt a little strange walking around at an airport we had never been before. We arrived in a hallway where people were waiting for the monorail that would take us to the other part of the airport. It soon arrived and we quickly arrived in a new hall. After some more walking we arrived at the immigration hall. Now I don’t know whether it’s a universal thing or a Japan-related thing, but it was really hot in this hall, just like in the immigration hall at Narita airport. My mom and I joined the line and then we waited. And waited. And kept on waiting. It’s always easier to write about things when you know the outcome, but God this really was hell. The line was really long and moved incredibly slowly despite there being eight counters, while it was really hot and I was worrying about our suitcases. It took more than an hour before we finally arrived at the front of the line and joined another line at one of the counters. Unfortunately, we joined a line that was also very slow and we finally figured out why. Every single elderly person messed up. Every single one of them, I am not kidding. Some of them carried special letters that apparently needed to be read every time and they all did something wrong when doing the finger scan or picture moment. How difficult can it be to press your index fingers onto two small plates or look into a camera for a few seconds you think? Very difficult, apparently. *sigh* My mom and I were so annoyed by this time we were determined to get through perfectly, which we did. Ha!
I ran on to the baggage hall and immediately noticed how some staff members had dragged all the baggage off the belts (and there were quite a lot of baggage belts) and put them into neat rows, because new batches of suitcases were arriving! The process had taken so long, they had no choice! Osaka airport may be the best airport in terms of ‘baggage loss’, but I am convinced it’s super easy to just walk away with someone else’s luggage (which is my greatest fear: someone stealing my luggage). But well, we were reunited with our suitcases and entered the airport.

Finally, a new view after that awful grey immigration hall!

Since we had never been to this airport before, we had to figure out everything from scratch. I had looked up in advance how to get to the city by train and subway, but where was the train? Once I figured out where to go, my mom followed me out of the airport and to the train station. We needed to take the train to station Tengachaya first, from where we would take the subway to Nipponbashi. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any cash machines, so I ended up buying train tickets with my credit card. This caused us problems later, you’ll see.
We dragged our suitcases to the platform where the train was already waiting. We sat down and after a while, it started driving. The start of the ride was quite nice: first we drove over sea to the mainland, which was really cool.

Train to Osaka
On our way to Osaka! ☆

However, the rest of the ride seemed super long because we were very tired (jetlag!), but also because it was really grey outside and the view wasn’t very spectacular. Finally we arrived at Tengachaya. We walked through the ticket gates and proceeded to the subway, where a problem occurred: the only way to buy tickets was with cash money. The only cash machine available didn’t accept foreign cards. I tried to ask the man behind the counter next to the ticket gates what to do, but as expected: his English was second to none. My mom and I were stuck between gates with no ticket machine in sight with heavy suitcases and tired moods. I had no idea what to do and I felt so lost in language that I started crying! Eventually, the kind man behind the counter let us through. It’s a bit embarrassing I got it done by crying, but I didn’t care one bit because I was exhausted. Note to self: make sure you have some money with you right from the start of your trip.
We took the subway to Nipponbashi and then started to look for our hotel. I had printed out a map, so it was fairly easy. But man, our suitcases were so heavy and we were so tired. Later during our trip I developed an easier way to pull my suitcase, but at that moment I thought my arms were going to fall off. We barely looked at our surroundings and soon arrived at our hotel.

Osaka Hotel
Finally, our hotel!

Unfortunately, as with all hotels, it was not check in time yet, so we left our suitcases at the lobby, freshened ourselves up a bit and then went on to explore the surroundings of our hotel.
During the booking of our hotels (we needed four of course), we took a lot of care in choosing our locations and I must say: our hotel location in Osaka was amazing! Ok, I have to admit it was in a tiny bit of a shady area, surrounded by host clubs (which was absolutely hilarious in my opinion). However, it was located right behind the canal and Dotonbori, which is the touristic and restaurant street to be! My mom and I absolutely loved it there!

The canal behind Dotonbori on the left, awesome streets and host clubs signs on the right.

While we had been looking for our hotel, we had spotted a 7/11. We hoped to get some money there, which we did, and walked around the shop for a bit. They had the super cute, typical pink-white-green dango and a whole arsenal of colourful drinks.

7/11 Drinks
Mysterious and colourful drinks everywhere!

We left the shop and walked into Dotonbori. We immediately noticed this place would probably be amazing during night time, with all the neon advertisements. However, the place was also great during daytime and I immediately recognised shops from pictures I had seen during my research, like the giant moving crab above a crab restaurant.

Giant Osaka Crab
The giant crab! Look how tiny I am in comparison! *o*

We spotted the giant crab three times by the way! I always thought there was only one, but three it was. ^^ We walked down a large part of Dotonbori, which was both a feast and an attack on our senses: so many sounds and smells! What an interesting place! We also immediately realised we were surrounded by many tourists, something we experienced a lot during this trip, especially compared to previous trips.

Dotonbori by Day
A small look into exciting Dotonbori!

We passed karaoke places, pachinko parlours, restaurants and many, many touristic shops. Everything I had imagined Tokyo to be when I went there for the first time was here, in Dotonbori. They had gift shops filled with sweets like matcha- and roasted tea-flavoured KitKats and giant boxes of Pocky and everywhere you looked you saw souvenirs, mainly related to the Japanese dish ‘takoyaki’, aka dough balls filled with octopus parts. The craziest things were being sold, it was incredible!

Tourist Shop
One of the amazing tourist shops in Dotonbori. I was scared to knock things over while walking there, it was so full!

Finally, at the end of the street we walked onto the Ebisu bridge and turned around to see the Glicoman. The Glicoman is a huge advertisement surrounded by other neon advertisements and for some reason it’s famous. I have no idea why, however I was overly excited to see it since it is such a well-known sight in Osaka. Naturally, I took tons of pictures of it! ^^

The famous Glicoman in all his glory!

We were getting more and more tired and my mom suggested to go back to the hotel. I think she didn’t realise how much time we still had left: check in time was at 3 pm and it was only 1:15 pm. She was very disappointed to hear so when we arrived back at the hotel, so we sat down on one of the few benches in the lobby and fell asleep. Around 2:30 pm my mom went to ask whether our room was ready and it was! Oh joy! We received the keys and went upstairs. Our room was at the outer corner of the hotel, which was nice. We entered our room and my first reaction was disappointment: the room didn’t have the same layout as on the pictures I had seen of the hotel! I was tired and irrational, okay? After some sleep it was perfectly fine. XD The room was small, but comfortable and the curtains blocked out all the light from outside, so after setting our alarm clock we fell asleep, which was amazing…

Hotel Room
A small glimpse into our room. ^^

Our alarm clock went off somewhere between 5:30 pm and 6 pm I believe. Despite the fact we really wanted to sleep some more, the only way to battle the jetlag was to try and adept to our new time zone the best as we could and that meant: dinner. We collected our things and left the hotel, on our way to Dotonbori again. We had been right: the place was absolutely amazing at night time. The neon lights were absolutely amazing. Some people hate it, but we adored it. It was like a party in the street, fantastic!

Dotonbori by Night
Dotonbori by night. ☽

However, finding a place to eat was pretty hard with a tired head. Luckily, we had already decided in the afternoon to go eat at Yoshinoya, a branch of cheap and good restaurants (so I had heard). We entered the small restaurant and were quickly handed an English menu, which helped a lot because the pictures didn’t tell me much (or tempted me much to be perfectly honest). I chose a bowl of rice with meat and a salad on the side, while my mom chose almost the same but with extra soup.

Food at Yoshinoya
Our first dinner of our trip, at Yoshinoya!

I don’t know whether the restaurant itself was really good or whether we were really hungry (hopefully both), but the food tasted amazing. A fantastic first meal in Japan! Once we had paid, we left the restaurant and decided to stroll down Dotonbori again. The street seemed totally different from the afternoon: so much livelier, brighter and inviting! There were street stalls selling takoyaki, men with huge ‘canons’ in which they roasted chestnuts, men and women with signs shouting invitingly to get you to their restaurants and lines of people in front of those restaurants.

Street Stall
One of the many street stalls selling food.

We walked around and sometimes entered a shop or a UFO catcher place. One of them had a wall filled with gashapon machines. My favourite one was the Sailor Moon key chains machine and I decided to definitely try my luck once I got some coins. We even entered one incredibly mysterious place where people were fishing in an artificial pond! A sign next to it said ‘It’s a fishing pond. After fish please release it. You can’t take it with you and eat it.’ Isn’t that super weird? *o*

Gashapon and Fishing Pond
The wall of gashapon machines and the mysterious fishing pond.

We looked around in some more touristic shops and we finally ended up in front of the Glicoman again, which looked spectacular of course at night time. It looks so great in pictures too! The colours were so amazing, I couldn’t stop looking at it! ;_; ♥

Glicoman at Night
Posing in front of the Glicoman!

Another neon advertisement I really liked was for Asahi beer, which looked like a giant square glass of beer that kept being filled up and emptied. Really cool!

Asahi Beer
Filming the Asahi neon advertisement. Doesn’t it look cool?

I worked super hard on my filming this time, because I was determined to make good videos. I think I succeeded fairly well, you can check out the result at the bottom of this video. ^^
Finally, we headed back to our hotel. We discovered there were two more 7/11s in our street, one being right next to our hotel! Before we went on our trip, my mom and I had already discussed trying more ‘strange’ drinks and desserts from vending machines and konbinis (convenience stores) and during our trip we really did our best! ^^ We decided to get some Coca Cola zero (ok, that’s not very interesting), some peach nectar, café au lait and two interesting-looking desserts with red beans and sticky dango. We took everything up to our hotel room and enjoyed our sweets there.

7/11 Dessert
Our 7/11 dessert. ^^

The drinks were really nice and we loved the desserts so much that we actually got them a second time some days after! Finally, we went to sleep. It had been an exhausting day filled with impressions and encounters. Some setbacks, but overall quite amazing.

And to end this post with, here is the video I made about our adventures in Osaka! I filmed a lot and tried to make the best videos I could about our trip. I hope you will like it! ♡
You can find day 2 from 1:55 until 2:54. Please take a look if you want! ♡

Thank you for reading! ~☆~

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