The guidebook basically said Osaka isn’t a place to spend any time. If only we had read that before booking two nights here! It is a very modern city with hardly any tourist attractions. Universal Studios is one of the main attractions and that doesn’t hold any attraction for us. The people arrive in their hordes though to come to Universal City. It must be doing very well. It doesn’t seem to change much whether it is a weekday or a weekend either. It seemed as busy yesterday as it was on Sunday. It is also a must-do to dress up to come to Universal City it seems. Minions seem to be a firm favourite of the locals. If you’re not dressed up then the you must at least be wearing bunny ears, Mickey/Minnie mouse glasses, frog or fish headbands. Everyone has either one or the other. It also seems a great place to meet girls if you’re a single guy – seems like 2:1 girl:guy ratio visiting the place.
M woke up at 10:30am yesterday and as we were in no hurry to do anything I was quite happy to let him sleep. We had to go and book our train tickets for today and unfortunately there is a no ticket office at Universal City so we had to go into Osaka. We decided to just go the main train station to do it. Japan for being very advanced in many things, is still a little backward in use of technology for the trains though. Our rail pass is a paper pass and to book a seat on the shinkansen you have to go to a counter to do it (you can’t use the ticketing machines). Unfortunately it seems a lot of people need to go to the counters to do things so there was a LONG queue at the station.
After we had booked our tickets we went to find some lunch. The train station is built next to/underneath/on top off a massive underground shopping mall which also spreads to next to the station (yes I know it confusing but it is actually true). There is a whole complex of restaurants next to the train station and after walking past all of them we settled on a burger place (tired of Japanese food for the moment!). Despite tables clearly being empty inside they still make you queue outside first. Not sure so that it looks like they’re more busy than they really are or to make you appreciate your table more or whatever but it definitely is a ‘thing’ in Japan. The burgers were good though.
I had a call with the office in the afternoon so we headed back to the hotel for me to be able to do that and then after the call we headed out to the Dotonbori region of Osaka. It is an area of Osaka that runs next to the Dotonbori canal and is lined with restaurants and bars (including apparently some of the most famous Osaka ones). It required 3 separate trains to get there. It is one of Osaka’s most popular tourist spots and we can attest to that being true. It was packed with people and a lot of foreigners (most English I have heard spoken since we got to Japan). The area actually dates back to 1615 when a guy called Doton had the idea to build the canal and make the area into an entertainment and shopping area. He actually died before it was completed (a war interrupted the completion) but it was finally completed and it did bring a lot of trade to the area as he had hoped – even 400 years later that remains true!
We walked up and down and around the area trying to find a restaurant we felt like going to and eventually settled on an Italian restaurant. Yes we know we should have probably tried one of the local places but we really just didn’t feel like Japanese food again and so we went for pasta instead. The added bonus was that they had a large screen TV showing the Scotland v Samoa rugby game so we could get to watch some rugby while we ate. I had a seafood pasta which was very good and packed with seafood.
By the time we had taken the 3 trains back again, it was almost 10pm and so we headed to bed shortly after we got back to the hotel.
Until tomorrow …
P & M