Friday, March 29, 2013

Day Trip!

Today my host family took me and Chelsea on a trip to the coast! While there was less beach involved than I thought it was still fun!

I'm not exactly sure where we went, as I always seem to miss these details, but our first stop was a place where my host father used to go to rent a boat. Not by himself of course, he would go with his friends, they'd rent a boat and then go fishing for the day. Unfortunately since he became sick he can't go out and do it anymore, but it was cool to visit.

Next up, just so you know I sometimes always act like a five year old. Ok, maybe not always. Anyways, so our next stop was the aquarium! While it couldn't compare to the Osaka aquarium it was still a ton of fun. AND I got to ride a panda!!! *Can't contain the excitement!*

I'm pretty sure this was supposed to be for kids only...
Yes, I rode the panda. Yes, everyone, including myself and the complete strangers around me were laughing very hard. Oh, and the panda played music once I put the money in. Most embarassing thing ever wasn't riding the thing, but everyone looking because it was playing very loud happy music.

But you know what? I'd do it again.

 Our last trip of the day we went to lunch. Again, terrible with names, but was not near the aquarium. What did we eat? Why fresh caught local sashimi! Sashimi = raw fish. Like for sushi, but minus the rice.

Sashimi for three.

 Then I slept in the car half the ride home.

So there you have it. A short and sweet update from me (for once!). Tomorrow the gang and I are cooking Easter dinner with my host family. We are moving to the dorms on Easter, so we're doing it early.

Take care everyone!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

All the World's a Stage



All the world’s a stage.

And I bring this up because I just realized I forgot to tell you where I went before my trip!

So a few days before my trip I got a message from my friend; Yukari. Yukari was also the first student I ever hosted back home. Anyways, so I got a message from her asking if I wanted to go see a musical called Notre Dame de Paris.

Notre Dame de Paris promotional image.
Basically, it is French in origin and was performed in English by French people with Japanese subtitles.

Yes, subtitles.

At a live performance. No you didn’t just read that and no I didn’t make a mistake. How it worked was this, the actors performed in English and to the left and right of the stage were large panels on which the words showed up in Japanese. There you have it. Japanese subtitles at a live theater performance.

The next logical question I’m assuming you’re going to ask is whether or not I liked it. Overall, I think I’m going to have to say no. Don’t get me wrong, it was really fun. I love musicals and live theater. But, something about the whole thing felt off to me. To me it felt like there were two or three overlapping plots that didn’t fit together quite right combined with a lack of time-period appropriate clothing and props. Seriously, I’m pretty sure the hobo fire in the metal barrel was not going on in that period of France. Of course, something also kinda gets ruined for you when one of the dancers is trying, not so surreptitiously to remove something from her back during an entire number while going through with the performance. I wouldn’t have even noticed it had she not started trying to remove it.

I also want to take the time to note that while I wasn’t particularly fond of it, I’m sure other people loved it. My only points of reference to base whether or not it was good or bad as a production are from seeing Wicked, the Broadway version of Beauty and the Beast and my high school’s Zombie Prom (my high school by the way was very well known in our state for our theater department above all else until the teacher in charge retired). Oh, and the 10th and 25th anniversaries of Les Miserables which I saw on DVD. So, overall, can’t tell you overall if it was actually good or actually bad. I can only say that I didn’t really like it.

And speaking of Les Miserables. My poor family has suffered through my enthusiasm already, so now it’s your turn. While packing up my suitcases I stumbled across a flyer for Les Miserables being performed in Japan. Yes, Les Miserables. In Japan. In Japanese. Sure, I may not be able to actually catch what they’re saying half the time, but I’ve seen it more than my fair share of times in English so I’ll be good.

So, today I bought my ticket. May 5th I’m going to see Les Miserables. Live. In Japan. 

Poster for Les Miserables in Japan 2013.
Sooooooo excited. You have no idea. 


While I’m talking about tickets I might as well take a moment to mention that Japan has amazing Conbini (Convenience stores). Seriously. You can buy fruits and veggies and all your other snacks and whatnot at a not outrageous price. You can also pay your bills and have stuff shipped to a conbini where you pick it up through Amazon. Pretty sweet. They also pretty much always have a copy machine and always an ATM inside. If you’re looking to use an American card at one of the ATMs and you don’t have one of the special travel cards your best bet will be at a 7-11.

Another machine located at the conbini is for purchasing tickets. Or that sort of thing. I’ve only used it for tickets so far, so I’m not sure of their other functionalities. So far I’ve used a Lawson’s conbini every time I’ve purchased tickets using their machine. If you’re using a Lawson’s machine it’s very convenient if you make sure you bring along the L-code for you ticket (usually provided on the website for the event, etc.) you’re buying a ticket for. Then, if you can’t read Japanese you get help from the employees, otherwise you find the section that asks for the L-Code and you type it in, do some confirmations and make sure to click はい at the last step and it’ll print out a really long receipt. You then take this receipt to the counter and pay. They’ll have you sign about half way down the receipt, print off your tickets and you’re good to go. Very convenient. Especially if you don’t have a credit card. 

Picture of a Lawson ticket machine from SuperMerlion

The rest of the adventure



More fun and interesting topics for you all! Woohoo! Or at least I hope they’re interesting!

I figure it’s about time I tidy up some loose ends I’ve swept under the rug. Namely, the rest of my trip. So, here we go in a brief run down! Ready? Oh, and please, please, please. I LOVE to see comments. So if you have any questions or I confuse the heck out of anyone, please say so! I’d be happy to clarify!!

So the second day of my trip I headed out to meet up with my friend Mika. That’s her. Right there, on the end. The right side that is. Anyways, Mika was an exchange student at the University of Oregon up through last summer. We met through the language exchange program at the U of O, even if we ended up not really doing much language exchange.



Back to the story. So, on the second day of our trip we met up with Mika in Osaka. First stop, shopping. Second stop, my first ever covered shopping street out in Kobe. I like shopping, what can I say? Also, it rained, a lot, so a lot of our other options were out. Shopping completed we headed back to Mika’s place to drop off our bags and headed on bike to an onsen.

While onsen actually means hot spring, it’s also used to describe a specific type of bathing house. How it works is you go in and pay, the one I went to was gender separated, don’t know if this is true everywhere, put your stuff in a locker and head over to the onsen room. Oh, and uh, I haven’t mentioned yet, but uh, the onsen was a nude one. I shamefully hid behind my hand towel as best and often as possible as I’m not used to that kind of nudity.

Anyways, so you undress and head out and off to the side is a row bathing areas where you can shower off. No, it’s not like going to the pool where you do a quick rinse off. You’re expected to actually bathe before heading over into any of the pools. The onsen we went to had multiple pools, all very ,very warm and one freezing cold one. Yeah, glad I tested the water before I jumped into that one. There was also a sauna and a couple of outdoor pools. It was really fantastic, once I got over the fact that I was naked.

That pretty much sums up what happened in Kobe. So, moving chronologically along, a couple days later the gang and I headed out to Ise shrine. Now, what I didn’t realize when I decided to go to Ise shrine is that there are actually TWO shrines. Count ‘em. One. Two.


There is both the outer shrine



and the inner shrine.



If you don’t know which one you’re at here’s a quick explanation. If you crossed a bridge to get to it you’re at the inner shrine.

Bridge. Got it?
The outer shrine is dedicated to Toyouke, the deity of clothing, food and housing while the inner shrine is dedicated to none other than Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess, herself. Oh, and I have I mentioned that Ise Shrine is the most sacred place in all of Japan?


This year was an extra cool year to go. Every 20 years they rebuild Ise Shrine at its adjacent site. During the rebuilding, which to my knowledge is done with only one specific type of wood and in the traditional style, the old building remains and you can see the new and old temples side by side. As far as I know Ise is one of very few, if not the only, shrine that gets rebuilt every 20 years. Back in the day, it was a big deal to do that for all the shrines, but as the materials became scarcer and the prices climbed complete rebuilding has been limited. So it was pretty neat to be able to show up and see something that only happens once every 20 years. Unfortunately because of rules and how the place is built, it wasn’t really possible to get pictures of the two places side by side.


The best I could do!!!

This was a super busy day by the way and we also headed out to the Wedded Rocks. Not quite sure why it's famous or what it stands for, but here's the picture!

Wedded Rocks.
Oh, and if you're ever bored alone with your friends on a train for thirty minutes waiting for it to leave a station, photo shoots are a fun idea.



About 2 days before leaving for Yokohama I headed out to Himeji shrine. Himeji shrine is a world heritage site and I was really excited to get to go see it in person. Unfortunately, the main building is in the middle of repairs. Which take a total of 5 years to complete.



 This is because it is done entirely in the traditional style and only a handful of people who have the required skills are allowed to do the work. 20 people all together is what I was told. It was still pretty cool though because there is building built up in front of the main building at the moment with an elevator and kind of museum installed. You can ride up the elevator for an extra 200 and go up to see the roof up close and watch the repairs being done. 

A bonus to the main building being closed was that they have a corridor opened up in another part of the building that isn’t normally open. If I read the signs right, hey, I could be wrong, the corridor they have opened up hasn’t been open to the public in a very, very long time. I’m talking around 400 years if I remember right. Anyways, the corridor is actually what used to be the women’s lodgings back in the day. It was pretty neat. Oh, and if you’re wondering, the repairs on Himeji Castle will be complete sometime in 2015. So if that’s something you want to see and you can afford to wait, sometime in 2015 it’ll be open again in its full glory.

No Scribbles!

Last thing I wanted to mention about the trip was the 旅館, or Japanese Inn, in Yokohama. After spending most of our day reading or otherwise napping on park benches, we headed to the 旅館. It was a bit farther from the trains than I anticipated, about a 15 minute walk to the station and just as we were thinking we were utterly lost, we saw this.



Houston, I think we found our destination.

The good thing about the ryokan is you can pay up front or at the end of your stay. The price per person per night (yes, per person, not per room) was 6,700 and ranged at one of the cheaper 旅館 we had seen. Our 旅館 had an onsen room, though the tub was pretty small, I could easily sit with my back against the wall and touch my feet to the other side with ease, but it was very nice. Our room was also a Japanese style room. By Japanese style I mean futon beds, tatami mats, the works. 



Dinner, however, I think was the highlight of our stay. Unfortunately I had forgotten my camera upstairs and I haven’t been able to requisition Chelsea’s pictures yet, so there are no pictures at this time. I’m not sure all of what dinner was, but there was food. Sooo much food. The first thing on the table was some kind of soup set up with what looked like a candle under it at first glance and appeared to be sitting in something that looked suspiciously like a coffee filter. The lady serving food lit the candle, which ended up not being a candle, but the entire thing lit up to cook the soup above it, burning up the entirety of the… whatever it was, in the process. It was pretty sweet. There was also sashimi (raw fish), tempura, chawan mushi (wikipedia link here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chawanmushi)), miso soup, and well, other things that I don’t quite remember. But it felt like the food just kept coming. We think that half of our fee went toward dinner.

Overall, it was a really good way to end our trip.

So now you have the full story, if in brief, of my adventures! More stuff to come soonish. But. I’m not sure how soon. Haha. Lots I want to write, but I’m also preparing to move to the dormitories on Sunday, with an early Easter dinner (being prepared by Briana and I) on Saturday and a trip to the coast on Friday. And I still need to pack my suitcases and get cracking on my spring break homework. Hoo boy. Here’s to hoping I make it through till Sunday!

Oh, for any of you travelers out there, or about to be travelers. This is the best advice I think I can give you. 

Sleep. Just do it.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kyoto Adventure



Moving on. While I still have some steam. (Man, 1 am already?) Here’s the rundown of what happened in Kyoto.

From our hotel, or more precisely, Nakanoshima Station, it cost 460 one way to get to Kyoto. This was way cheaper than I thought it would be, so it was a bonus point for me. I spent a total of two days in Kyoto. The first day I headed out solo and somehow managed not to get lost with my Google map for a guide.

My first stop was 金閣寺or the Golden Pavilion. 

The Golden Pavilion

Before I continue I just want to say, there is something really amazing about finally arriving at a place you’ve learned and heard about for so long. Really. Years of saying “I’m going to go there someday” later and that day arrives and it makes it all the better. 
 

I’m in love with areas like this and I’ve probably already said this a million times, but Japanese temple and shrine areas are amazing. I’m not sure if the Golden Pavilion counts as either of those it was still amazing. And it really was golden to boot. 



While at the Golden Pavillion I had a guy take my picture and I was going to take his in return. He gets this really nervous look and says he wants to take a picture with this thing. So he reaches into his bag and pulls out sheet of golden plastic wrapping paper. Probably the best thing ever. He kept waiting for it to clear out a bit and finally said he was “too weak” to do it alone and asked if I’d take the picture together. Long story short, I now have a very unique photo at the Golden Pavillion. 



Next stop was Ryoan-ji. If you don’t know Ryoan-ji that’s cool. It’s famous for its zen rock garden. And before you ask (looking at you dad), yes, I paid money to go look at a bunch of rocks. Despite being pretty crowded the place was actually very nice.



My final stop of the day (due to bad train directions, thanks Google, and missing an event) was Fushimi Inari Taisha. I think this location is probably most famous in the U.S. for the scene in Memoirs of a Geisha when she runs through the rows of torii gates.



This place costs nothing but time to enter. If you walk up the stairs and towards the right you’ll reach a fork that looks like this. 



It doesn’t really matter which side you choose as you’ll come out in roughly the same place and you’ll continue on the only path provided. Eventually you’ll reach a plateau-ish area with a lot of people resting. 


Let me make this clear to you. There is a reason people turn back there. Okay, not really so menacing as all that, but be warned, if you continue (and don’t turn back) it will take you around an hour to walk the entire circuit. Definitely not a 15 minute in and out area. 

Lots of little shrines along the path.

Me, being unprepared, entered this part of the path at Fushimi Inari Taisha and kept walking. And walking. And I’m telling you, there are some stairs and inclines like you wouldn’t believe. At one point I stopped, stared up at this stair case that seemed to be the longest, steepest staircase ever and I just started crying. 
Not THE stair case. But this is one of the gentle inclines.

This was just after I’d realized what I’d gotten myself into and seen my first real map of the place. Realizing I was just over half way, there was no point in turning back, but I managed to do the whole circuit and live to tell the tell. Victory photo!



Fast forward to Monday. Google maps got me, or rather us, Chelsea and I, in trouble again. We overshot our mark heading to Maica. Maica is a studio where you can dress up like a maiko (apprentice geisha) and have you picture taken. For 6,500 they’ll do your makeup, wig and dress you in a kimono. They then take and give you one photo free. They also offer a CD with that photo and a few other poses they will take for about 2,000 extra, completely optional. You then are given a one hour window of free time in the house to take your own photos. Of course, if you have a more expensive plan you are allowed to leave the house. I was allowed in the garden area, but unfortunately, it was raining by that point so I didn’t take advantage of that option. 

Me, me, me! That's me, right there!

After splitting up I went off to Kiyomizu Dera in the rain. When I was a kid my dad gave me this camera and on the camera were pictures. We knew it was somewhere in Japan because the camera had been set in Japanese (took me days to figure out how to change it). I remember thinking it was pretty and one day I would like to go. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I was researching placing to go in Kyoto and lo-and behold I came across and almost identical picture the one I’d seen. Needless to say, going was a necessity. And it turned out fantastically. I’m really glad I went.



Also in Kyoto. I rode in my first taxi. Ever. That was interesting. And not nearly as expensive as I thought it’d be. Still. I don’t want to make a habit out of it. It was still exponentially more expensive than the trains.

So that sums up Kyoto. A lot quicker than Osaka. Hmm… Oh. Forgot to mention, of all the places I’ve been to in Japan, Kyoto was by far the most foreigner laden city thus far. I’d call it tourist central. Not sure why this was surprising to me, but it was. Anyways! Until later. Maybe tomorrow? I still need to tell you guys about Ise Shrine, Himeji and Kobe!!!

Osaka



If ever there was a place that I was born to be, it is Japan. Now that I'm here, I don't ever want to go home (but that fluctuates depending on my rollercoaster homesickness). America is my country, but the cities of Japan are my hometowns. Call me corny, but that’s how I truly feel.

So as you all know, and I'm sure you've been waiting eagerly, I've been on vacation for what feels like forever!! It's spring break and this is my first BIG vacation ever. By BIG I mean overseas. I also mean in places outside of Oregon (I'm not counting the couple of times I've been to California). So yes. My first real vacation. Man was it a lot more work than I thought I’d be.

So, I need to backtrack about 2 weeks to fill you in on all the details. So let's start with the 11th. (Sorry for the backlog, bad internet and lack of sleep as is has kept me from the keyboard.) I'm going to do this in a time-line manner (even if time really is all wibbly-wobbly) and fill you in without trying to overburden you. To that extent I’m going to post it in segments. So here goes.

Starting with Osaka.

I have this whole system I worked out in my brain that only works for me apparently. But if Osaka and Tokyo were siblings I’d call Osaka the messy little brother. My first impression upon arriving in Osaka was the people dress, not sloppy, but a lot more casually. I felt a lot better about going out in jeans and a T-shirt than I think I would in Tokyo.

Also, the people in Osaka are very nice. I can’t begin to tell you the number of times people stopped and asked if we were okay and helped us get where we were going.  My host family tells me that people in Osaka are a lot more outspoken than up Tokyo way, which is probably why they were more vocal about asking if we were all right all the time. I have no facts to back this up, it’s just what my host family said, but nonetheless it made things a lot easier getting around with people offering to help. Sometimes with impeccable timing at that.

It may have just been the parts of Osaka I was in, but Osaka felt more open. The roads felt wider and I didn’t feel quite so claustrophobically surrounded by tall buildings all the time. Yes, tall buildings exist, but I didn’t feel like every building had this massive need to be at least 5 stories tall. Let me just add a note in here that I’m used to spending a LOT of time near Shibuya. So the buildings don’t tend to understand the word “short” there. Overall, I loved the feeling of being able to breathe in the city.
Osaka night view from near our second hotel. So much sky!!
Last observation before I move onto trip stuff is the trains. It could have just been where we were located in Osaka, just off Nakanoshima Station (also Awaza (sp?) Station was about a 10 minute walk away I think) but the train system didn’t seem quite so convenient as Tokyo. At least to me. They ran on time, heck, I think I had even less late trains in Osaka than I ever do in Tokyo. But the trains just didn’t quite seem to cover quite the same amount of area and left a lot of walking in between places. That being said, if you’re ever in Tokyo and your train is running late, I’m sorry, it’s probably because I’m waiting for it. My waiting for a train seems to be the only reason they’re ever late. No one else seems to ever have this problem.

Our bus, which happened to be a 夜行バス or pretty much overnight bus took off from Shibuya pretty close to midnight and arrived at about 6:30 in the morning. Pausing to make a note for travelers, just because your ticket says you leave from (Station name) something and the map they provide makes it look like it’s within a block or two, don’t believe it. Check your facts, arrive early and find your location because chances are a) yes, the bus is there, but b) it’s going to be quite a bit farther than the map made you anticipate. Also, after departure time on your ticket there is another time. That time, is not, contrary to my prior belief, your arrival time. It is, however, the duration of the bus ride until you get off.

Back to the story. So we arrived at 6:30 in the morning pretty close to Umeda station in Osaka. We had roughly 7 hours to kill before hotel check in and having just gotten off a bus our first priority was breakfast. Sandwich and salad later, mission accomplished we decided to utilize coin lockers. I’m going to preface this by saying I hate using coin lockers back home. Even at places like Skateworld where I’m no farther than a hundred yards away from my stuff. But I love coin lockers in Japan. Depending on the location, the prices vary, but generally the small sized ones will run you about 300. In Umeda the medium size lockers were 400 and the large 600 I do believe. We were able to fit my suitcase and a large (think almost diaper sized bag) laptop bag in a medium locker with room enough for another large purse on top. Also, the lockers are in a highly trafficked area, so anyone trying to break in wouldn’t get too far I would think.

Stuff deposited we headed out to Suiyoshi Taisha Shrine. Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in all of Japan and was built sometime around the 3rd century. It’s famous, among other reasons, because of its lack of Chinese influence having been built long before contact. 

Unlike other places I've been recently you could walk on the bridge here. Boy was it steep.

This place is pretty big too. I’m not sure how many buildings there were, but it took us a little bit to walk around the whole area. Overall, definitely worth a visit if you are in Osaka. 


One of the many areas within the shrine complex.

After the shrine we walked back toward the station and grabbed lunch from a Vie de France and ate in the park which had an amazing water area and a really pretty flower garden. There was also a jungle gym which Briana mastered like a boss.

A split lunch feast.

Lunch finished, we headed toward Osaka Castle. This place was much bigger than I thought and I’d recommend looking at area maps if you spot one along the way to help you find entrances as you first have to cross a river (depending on the direction you come from) and, for lack of better word, moats. We entered the grounds and made first for the Plum blossom orchard. I use the word orchard because, again, I’m at a loss for a better word. The area was pretty. And the flowers were gorgeous. Pictures can’t do justice.

Osaka Castle plum orchard.
From atop the plum orchard.
   It also happened to be very crowded as we’d arrived during the middle of lunch time. But we made our way around, followed the example of an おじいさん (old man) and hopped the fence surrounding the field to sit down and eat our lunch atop the moat wall. How often do you get to say you’ve done that?

Eating my first takoyaki lunch atop a moat.
We then proceeded to pick up some plum flavored ice cream that was at once both sweet and sour (though the sweet won out) to the point where you aren’t really sure which one it is. And we also happened to picked out of the crowd (2 of the 7 foreigners in Osaka we’d spotted all day, wonder how hard it was to pick us out)  to be interviewed on a television show. Sweet. That doesn’t happen every day. So we agreed, waited around until the allotted time and did the interview. Laughing thinking it was probably a pretty small or at least a local program. 

The guy who interviewed us is to the left.
Nope. I had friends and my host family back up in Tokyo who saw it. Oh sheesh. I turned red. But it was still pretty cool. 

Look mom! I'm on TV!
We then proceeded up to the castle itself. Took some silly pictures (because what else do you do at a castle?), did the tour and headed out. I do recommend entering the castle if you have the time (I think the fare ran about 400-600 but there are sites that will tell you for sure) if nothing else for the view from the top. Then again, I love being able to look out over cities. 



So, anyways. Our first night in Osaka we stayed at the Flexstay Inn in Osaka’s Shinsaibaisha area. Here’s a link to that hotel’s info because I totally recommend it, though along with that recommendation, I highly recommend using Jalan.net to make your reservation. Moving on. The first thing we learned in pursuit of this hotel was that my map was terrible. After walking the wrong direction and not being able to make heads or tails of my Google map, we (Briana and I) stopped at a real estate agents office. The guy working was really nice, printed us a map and pointed us the right direction so we made it to the hotel without further incident.

I’m going to say first off that our mutual friend helped us find this hotel online. Not knowing Osaka, I had no idea what kind of area it was in. Our first instinct, trying to locate this hotel, was that we’d stepped into what appeared to be the ghetto. So, we were a little bit… worried. Not to worry though, a block or two later the neighborhood shaped up and we later learned we were in pretty much the Harajuku of Osaka. I imagine I’d have been just as terrified of Harajuku if I’d come walking into it from a random back way not knowing where it was. For the record, we were also really close to the Namba area of Osaka, which is where the Glico man is. I only have a picture with the small one though.

A small Glico Man in Namba. Somewhat near to the real one.
 
I’m going to skip a lot of boring details now and talk about the couple other things we did in Osaka. Give you a big picture rather than boring you to death.

Our next hotel was the Fifty’s Family Inn a couple days later. It was a good hotel, they gave us an insane number of tooth brushes (at least a new one every day if not an extra) and breakfast is provided. My only warning is that, though they advertise wifi, if your room is far from the dining room it is going to be weak and or non-existent. You are warned. Our room was a triple, with a queen sized and a single jammed up at a 90 degree angle to the top of the larger bed. There wasn’t a lot of room for luggage, or walking, or anything. But if you’re not planning on spending a lot of time in your hotel room it works out.

I can’t tell you exactly where it was, because I have a terrible memory about this kind of thing, but in Osaka they have a series of covered shopping streets. I want to say they’re near Namba and Shinsaibashi. Yes, covered shopping streets. I.e. when it’s raining you won’t need an umbrella as long as you’re under it. Score. Definitely a fun place to check out if you like shopping and not getting wet.

Covered shopping street in Osaka.

On my last day in Osaka I headed to the Tempozan Ferris Wheel.

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

It was my first time ever on a Ferris Wheel. I’m terrified of heights. Oh, and I went alone. Bad combo you would think. But it was actually pretty fun. After paying 700円 to ride I hoped on board and the first couple of minutes I was pretty sure I was about to lose my lunch from my fear, but once I pushed that away it was pretty fun. Unfortunately, as it was a rainy day, pictures weren’t really possible from inside, but I could still see out a fair ways.

Inside the Tempozan Ferris Wheel.

Wanting to stay out of the rain I went from the ferris wheel into the adjacent aquarium. It was pretty spendy with about a 2,500 entry fee, but I had time to kill and nowhere better to be, so I bought my ticket and went on in. 

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.

Apparently, the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the largest aquariums in the world. It was also pretty fun. On top of marine animals, there were a few other exhibits featuring animals from a couple of countries. I haven’t been to an aquarium in years, but I was very glad I went. I felt like a kid walking through looking at the animals and collecting stamps along the way. I also got to take these cool pictures.

Posing with the sharks at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.

Jellyfish exhibit at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.

Chillin' with my penguin peeps at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.

Sharky, shark, shark.
    That about wraps up what went down in Osaka. So shortly to come, bam-ba-baaam *dramatic music* - Kyoto!