A Travellerspoint blog

Osaka: Day 7

…Arashiyama/Cat Café Nekokaigi = Many Pictures

semi-overcast 28 °C

Arashiyama was beyond words. Of course looking at pictures of the bamboo forest on the internet is mesmerising and makes you wish you were there standing between two walls of bamboo, contemplating life itself among the quiet solitude of this ancient forest…but being there is really something else entirely.

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I won't sugarcoat it - I don't know how those photographers get shots of the forest with a human population of 0 in them (pro photographer perks, perhaps?) but there are a ton of people there. The path is moveable though, so you aren't packed like sardines. There was also someone there playing instrumental music of some sort when my friend and I were there, which we agreed, ruined the intended atmosphere of the forest. But I gotta say all in all it was a grand adventure that I would repeat again if I could.

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After Arashiyama we headed to Cat Café Nekokaigi in Kyoto. It's basically this really cool apartment where you relax with some tea or coffee in the company of a dozen feline friends. In this café, though, all but one cat is rescued from a shelter. Because of this reason, these are your every day kitty cats and some are skittish, slowly warming up to people. Some will sit in your lap if you give them the chance! Here is a link to their homepage: http://www.nekokaigi.com/english/top.html

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After the Cat Café we headed out to find some food - we found, we feasted. Then we officially headed our separate ways; I went back to Ishibashi.

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the ceiling of the restaurant we ate at
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Posted by Kacey's Travels 06:36 Archived in Japan Tagged day_7 Comments (0)

Osaka: Day 6

Rain, rain go away!

rain 26 °C

I never, as a Texan, thought I would say that. Typhoon Halong has caused us to have quite a bit of rain the past couple of days. Yesterday it wasn't so bad because of how tired we were from USJ; it gave us time to relax and also gave us a break from the heat.

In case anyone was wondering, I am totally sitting in my room with no fan on and windows closed right now. That's saying something.

But the rain spoiled our plans to go to Kyoto today…and although we can go later, I was definitely excited. Plans were re-done and this is how the day ended up going:

We went to the Pokémon Centre first - very crowded, very surreal - Children in one corner, gamers in another. I got a few things and ended up getting to enter the lottery where I won…two sweat rags? Still pretty darn sweet if you ask me.

Afterwards we went to the aquarium, and I have to say, I actually don't like aquariums and zoos (I also have been able to get over my fear of fish little by little…that's a story for another day). There are rare instances where I like some part of a zoo or an aquarium and it's just my opinion. It was something to do and I'm glad I went, but my opinion hasn't changed. The whale shark wasn't there when I went (I'm kind of glad) but there was a lot to see and do and here are some pictures of our adventure:

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Bonus Picture:
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what a way to end the day...

Posted by Kacey's Travels 06:24 Archived in Japan Tagged day_6 Comments (0)

Osaka: Day 5

…home alone [not]

rain 26 °C

My friend had some business to take care of so I was on my own for a little bit to do fun things like buy breakfast at the 7 Eleven and Sundays.
Sundays is my friend, pretty much my Wally World in a city of high end grocery stores. It opens at 10:00, and I arrived at 09:25, which caused me to look like a lost tourist or possible crime victim until it opened. I ended up going to 7 Eleven, buying a super large water bottle for 98¥ (the small ones in the vending machine range from 100¥-200¥ from what I saw on the local streets), and then going to Sundays. Once at Sundays I lined up in a very hostile looking crowd consisting of obaachans and bachelors alike, just to buy breakfast.
Little did I know I could have bought the same thing at 7 Eleven.

I found my way to get everything I needed eventually, and this is where Sensei Kacey's Lesson of the Day Begins…
Do not move for people you think need to get by you in line unless they say; "excuse me" or push by you. If you even barely step out of line someone will take it. In my case, I was moving to let an elderly lady sneak by, who honestly looked like she wanted to get by, and she took my spot. I had to go to the back of the line once again…of course I have experienced this in the States too so it isn't that big of a surprise.

In the end the spoils are mine!

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I genuinely thought these were crackers. These are not crackers, these are cookies shaped like pikachu's head
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I still haven't been able to open this, I am such a loser

Once I arrived home with a feast to be consumed I plopped myself down and relaxed for a bit…then the peace was suddenly shattered by voices over a megaphone. That is one of the most terrifying things I had ever heard in my life, all for trash. My friend explained to me that sometimes they will go by with voices over a megaphone for a political campaign or even for trash.
After that I met up with my friend at Ishibashi Station, never having seen so many school boys and girls in my life, and we had Ramen. Then watched the first 2 Harry Potter movies, then got some food, then slept. All in all it was a good day.

Posted by Kacey's Travels 20:44 Archived in Japan Tagged day_5 Comments (0)

Osaka: Day 4

Snoopy, Potter, Moomin and more!

semi-overcast 29 °C

Our trip to Universal Studios Japan began at 07:00 with a semi-long commute to the "universal" amusement park. I finally got the Japan experience of smashing in like a bunch of sardines into a subway car that was too small for this. Daily commuting life must be like some messy version of Tetris here. Needless to say, we all arrived in our own separate one piece and headed to the park!

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breakfast = pancake sandwich nam nam

There was lot of people already in line well before we got there, and by a lot I mean a plethora of people. We waited in line, dying from heat and humidity, and finally got through. We were now in Universal Studios Japan!

*cue trumpets*

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I'll spare you, my beloved reader, from the torture that was waiting in line, by briefly summarising what we did. I hope you never have to go through what we did. And if you have, you may join the exclusive club.

The first ride we went on was "Snoopy's Great Race". It's a cute little ride that takes you through an international 'race' as you crash through barns and billboards, trying to get to the finish line in time. Or something less dramatic, it was a really fun ride! To get to the ride you had to pass through a Sesame Street/Muppets playground, as well as by the Hello Kitty museum thing…

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The second thing we did was ride the Hollywood Backdrop. It is a roller coaster that goes backwards to music, all the while you are lifted out of your seat as you go around and around and upside down and everything in between. Afterwards we found ourselves in Jurassic Park. Cars from the movie could be seen on each side of the walk way, and signs warning against the feeding of dinosaurs stood as a last warning to all entering the park.

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After waiting 90 minutes (I lost track of time) in line, we finally headed to a place to eat - the One Piece Feast Restaurant. Once there you can see performances by employees dressed as the characters, who do a really good job of acting the part. I only watched One Piece as a child, so I don't remember much of it at all, and seeing as how there was so much One Piece stuff, the park was better suited for fans of the show…but I still enjoyed seeing everything all the same!

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The rest of the trip is kind of blurry, since between the Jurassic Park ride and Harry Potter world I don't remember much else (I was too excited with life). I do know we went to the Back to the Future ride, as well as the Terminator 2 experience (Arnold Schwarzenegger in Japanese = Astah La Vista Bibi), and…I believe that was it until we got to Harry Potter world. The rest of the post is almost dedicated to it, there will be many pictures though, for those who don't care to read about it.

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Okay, okay. The moment some of you may have been waiting for has arrived: Harry Potter! I love the movies myself, and I'm bound and determined to read the books in Norwegian but may break down and read them in English (someone I know was a huge fan when the series first came out and secretly told me everything that happened so I felt unmotivated to read the books when they could summarise it for me….yes, judge me all you want). Anyway, first let's get my disappointment out of the way: I hate listening to Harry Potter and his friends in other languages, it's a personal preference for me to love them in their original glory. And I like their accents. Now that that is out of the way, it was a really cool experience. After standing in line for 2 hours or so and fighting for a locker like wild animals, we were in the castle! We watched the paintings have conversations, Dumbledore greet us the way Dumbledore greets everyone, and be told to move by an employee after everyone stopped to watch 3 more paintings fight amongst themselves. We passed a mirror, and as everyone stared to watch the woman in the mirror speak, she abruptly told us to move (all in Japanese) and then laugh at our astonishment. I desperately searched for Durmstrang paraphernalia, but in vain.

I know you're probably wondering where the pictures are and I must tell you, we were the only group that didn't bring their cell phones. The card said put everything loose in the locker. Then when we got to the ride, it said hold on tightly to your phones. Go figure.

But all in all the ride went so amazing beyond words (I'm still excited about it all) and cannot tell you when the last time I had so much fun on a ride was. They put a lot of effort into making the Harry Potter part of the park look authentic (except…maybe the snow) and it really showed. Here are some pictures now, my condolences for my excited ramblings:

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these were the only two houses I took a picture of gomennn

Here are more of when the day was coming to an end:
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And that's it for Harry Potter. We finally left the park and went to go get something to eat. We stopped by a ramen shop where the cashier was so sweet and said; "Thank you, bye bye!" in English. It's really sweet to have things like that happen to you here just randomly.

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After dinner we stopped by someplace I hadn't noticed on the way in (how?!?!?!?) - the Moomin Stand! I saw this picture on the food sign and I got a group "yes!" when I asked if we could go there later:

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You bet your sweet bippy I bought something there, too.

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I felt so bad because I wasn't sure how to check out, but in the end we got it all said and done! I ended up buying a postcard, a Snufkin keychain, and a stuffed Moomin. My friend killed me with kindness when she gave me her straw clip (that she chose to get of Snufkin, right after I told her he was my favourite character):

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All in all it was a fantastic day that I am not soon to forget.

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my neighbour was playing amazing piano music in the next room, nice way to end the day

Bonus Picture (if you know the value of ¥, you might cry):
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That's hard to read: Authentic Elvis Presley Signature ¥1,026,000
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Posted by Kacey's Travels 19:36 Archived in Japan Tagged day_4 Comments (0)

Osaka: Day 3

…when in Rome, don't fall ill.

overcast 29 °C

My bumpy road littered with vomiting and shaking began with what we assume was greasy karaage, and I have never felt more like wanting to die in all my 18 years. It's 19:26 and it all started at 02:00 this morning with a migraine. I will never, ever, in all my life repeat that mistake. Not only did I feel like a bad guest, I felt totally worthless and self-piteous all day. I just wanted to go home, and that's all I could think about for awhile. But now that I'm better, I am excited for what's to come….so long as there is no greasy karaage involved.

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it pays to have good friends when one is ill in Japan

Bonus Photo:
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the coin ¥ I have at the moment

We also got news that Typhoon Halong is headed our way pretty soon. My hosts aren't expecting anything besides some rain and wind, so no worries! Let's just hope that the forecasted rain on August 14th doesn't delay my plane…I have 2 more stops after my flight back from Osaka!!

Posted by Kacey's Travels 03:23 Archived in Japan Tagged day_3 Comments (0)

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