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Japan: Day 10 (and previous)

Hello, I am in Osaka. The hotel is located in a pretty good spot, away from massive crowds of people, but for a gimpy person like me, frustratingly inconvenient. Although that did help me get the rest I should be getting for my knee.

Previously on elanswer, I was in Tokyo, and after the first few days of excitement, I ventured out little due to the cold and rain, and my not wanting to get the new flu. Or the old flu. Or any other type of illness.

Let me tell you, being used to the "rainy days" in Hawaii..... As opposed to how when I arrived in Tokyo, I felt that it was really quite hot and humid, etc... When that rain came down, it was furious, it was bitingly cold, it was accompanied by frozen wind, and IT CONTINUED ALL DAY LONG. I ventured out to check out Gyakuten Kenji, to eat, and even to wander around a little, get lost, and find a Donki, but it was all done while cursing at myself for possibly getting myself sick.

[[DAY 5]] rolled around. May 30th! When I ride the Shinkansen for the first time and meet up with shadowfaxrider in Morioka! I had some time between check-out and train time, so I left my bags with the hotel and decided to check out this Takashimaya Times Square that was south of Shinjuku station.

It was initially a great idea, but on the way towards the Tokyu Hands there, I unfortunately took notice of a Krispy Kreme across the way! Of course at the time, I thought it was fortunate, and a stroke of luck, etc., etc. What I had neglected to work on was my plan for the ordering and consumption of said delicacies. In a dumb and confused process, I ended up outside the store, with a free Krispy Kreme donut and a 220 yen cup of iced coffee. This is not so bad, until faced with the fact that 1) There's no where within like, a mile or more from this place to sit and eat (there may have been one inside? but I was effectively locked out once I stepped outside), 2) I HATE coffee, and this one tasted terrible besides, and 3) there was no trash can to dump anything, anywhere around.

So began my harrowing adventure for the day. I couldn't even enjoy Tokyu Hands after that, because I was exhausted and confused after that experience. It was sad and distressing and frustrating.

Anyhow, it was forgotten as soon as I got on the Shinkansen. Because there was so much cool scenery to look at, and then the uncomfortable nervous terror of seeing random metal platforms come zooming by at lightning speed, all about a foot away from you (ok, maybe two feet). I got to Morioka, shadowfaxrider was there to meet me at the station, and we set my stuff down at her place before heading out to dinner with a bunch of her roommates/friends/acquaintances at an Indian/Nepalese place! DELICIOUS!!!!! Afterwards, there was karaoke! :D

Of course the next day [[DAY 6]] I think we slept until like 11 or 12? shadowfaxrider and her roommate made excellent breakfast/lunch. I had been stressing about not being able to find one of my pairs of socks (1 out of the 2 pairs I brought), so we hit the 100 yen place where I also picked up an awesome tie. Then on our way to hit the touristy areas, we found a street dancing festival thing, so we stayed and watched that for a while.

We then went to see Morioka's Big Buddha, which is in a really neat place with all kinds of weird stuff, like other statues, and poems on like a million slabs of rock as you go up towards the site. Hard pressed to compare Kamakura's with this one. (Kamakura top (from a previous trip), Morioka bottom)

And we also saw the famous Rock-Splitting Cherry Tree, which is a cherry tree that grew in spite of having a freaking huge rock in its way.

Speaking of rocks, we went indoor rock climbing that night (my first time!) and that experience is where the following quote describes: "Missing the handhold, I fell. As I landed on the mat, I felt my knee move in that sickening way and give out under me. Excruciating pain."

Afterwards, shadowfaxrider helped me limp away and to our next destination: Dinner! I've only ever had okonomiyaki once before, and that was a Shirokiya thing where they just kind of mass-produce it and give it to you. At this restaurant, there is a dizzying array of choices and then you cook the thing yourself on a hot plate in the middle of the table! SO DELICIOUS!

The next day [[DAY 7]], I limped away with my luggage and shadowfaxrider's assistance to Nagoya! I only had a day there, and decided to still try to see if I could visit the castle, just north of my hotel. I limped my way over (Google Maps tells me it's about a mile), only to find that it was closed for the day. FAIL! I guess they closed at 4:30pm. Instead I had a delicious dinner at Yoshinoya for like 5 bucks. Japan, not really that expensive.

Anyhow, undaunted by the previous day's fail, the next day [[DAY 8]] I left my bags with the hotel and again limped over to Nagoya Castle. It was open! Huzzah!

Apparently it was a great castle, the center of the town and all that, the very idea of Nagoya was embodied in the castle... of course we air raided the hell out of it in WWII and only three of the watchtowers were left standing... the rest all had to be reconstructed.. Honmaru Palace remains to be reconstructed.. a sad construction staging area is there in its place.. I suppose waiting for more funds to do the reconstructing.

Success! I limped off to Kyoto. I made the mistake once I got to the hotel and dropped off my luggage, to kind of randomly head out with only a cursory glance at all the tourist info/maps that the hotel provided me upon my request. I went past Nishi Hongwanji and kept going.. Google Maps says I went about 1.2 km before I realized I had no destination in mind and one hadn't popped up while I was walking. I turned back, hoping to find a good restaurant along the way... or in the station... WTF so confusing there weren't any.. or I was looking in the wrong places.. I ended up in a Wako on the 11th floor of the Isetan at Kyoto Station. Tried what was supposed to be their specialty, but wasn't impressed. Okay as far as filling the stomach though.

[[DAY 9]] Since I took the time to actually look at the sightseeing info I was given during the night, I was set in the morning. First, breakfast, which happened to be at some sort of cafe that started in Louisiana? It was in the station, next to a Mister Donut. Then, time to brave the buses!

I boarded one of the buses that the guidebook said would take me to Tenryuuji, which is supposed to be the Temple of the Heavenly Dragon or something like that. Far away! Extremely pretty garden. Simply STUNNING!

Back to the station, and then boarded another bus to Kiyomizudera, which is supposed to be something like the Temple of Clear Water.. ok. I should have known, since the guidebook said it offered stunning views from the CLIFF, that once the bus dropped me off, I would be walking uphill quite a ways before reaching the temple. Ate some lunch along the way.. I think the weather helped somewhat in my impression of the temple and its surroundings, but also very beautiful and green! The view somewhat less so, but hey.

After what seemed like forever, I grabbed my stuff and was gratefully off to my next destination, Osaka. Ok, let's pause for a moment while I express my displeasure with Kyoto Station. I have no idea what the heck whatsoever how this stupid station is laid out. So when I took what I thought to be the closest entrance, I got to this really weird place and ended up suddenly on a platform, for trains bound god knows where. Knowing, or hoping, that I wasn't at the right place, I limped all the way down that platform, trying to follow the Shinkansen signs. Well, you know, I somehow lost them, but was able to get to Shin-Osaka anyway. (I didn't know it then, but I was going to get completely confused upon arrival.)

The train I got on was called the Thunderbird. Pretty neat, and pretty fast.. I think it was a limited express. But it kind of smelled like pee. I got to Shin-Osaka without incident, but then I realized that I really had no idea which recommended route to the hotel I was following. One had me going to Shin-Osaka, the other had me going to Osaka, and one or both of them had me going to either the JR Tozai or the subway, or both after that. I didn't see any obvious signs for the JR Tozai line, so although stairs were still really tricky (read: painful and slow going) I chose to take the subway to the hotel.

Thankfully my Japanese was workable enough to get help from various station attendants on the way, because I had to board one line, get off at a certain station, make sure I went through the transfer gates instead of the regular gates, walk to an adjoining station, and then board the line that would take me to the station closest to the hotel. At least there was no pedestrian overpass to contend with this time (vs. Nagoya)

Even though I decided to take it easy in Osaka (since I really had nothing in mind as far as what to see), I decided to venture out and see if I could buy anything for my feet.. I had developed a corn on one of my toes, and my main pair of shoes, being not exactly the right fit, were fine for regular walking, but MURDER for limping walking. I ended up going about half a mile and a pedestrian overpass before finding a pretty dandy 100 yen shop, except that it was named "Daikoku" - this written in Katakana - apparently though it's a pretty big chain of drugstore/100 yen shop. Got some 100 yen slippers (for showering in China - the ones I brought won't dry as fast), and some corn pads.. woo hoo.. yeah, getting old when things like corn pads excite you.

Oh, and then had Mos Burger for dinner!!! You are all jealous!

Even though I was a total hermit today [[DAY 10]] and only ventured out for brunch and ATM in the morning (resting my knee the whole day, even telling housekeeping to skip my room so I could rest in peace), I did manage to make it to Japan's longest shopping street, Tenjimbashi, where I managed to find a ramen shop (finally), and OH! I forgot that I bought a couple of kiwi fruits.. hooray for fruits! (One thing about touristing - fruits are hardly ever part of your diet unless you consciously make an effort. Consciously making an effort leads to better digestion. But, I digress.) Anyway, the only reason I was able to make it is that thankfully my knee has returned to.. let's say about 95%? Hopefully it holds up! Only a little more city-hopping to go!


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Jun. 4th, 2009 01:48 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear your knee has gotten better!! :D It sucks to limp while sightseeing. Next time (hopefully there will be a next time?) we can try belaying where you've at least got the rope to break part of your fall. Are you still using the cooling strips? I hope it's closer to 100% by the weekend. See ya...on Sunday!! I'm taking you up on your offer to crash at your hotel room, so gomen! :p Hehe. Taking up space.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )