Saturday – April 8, 2017
Being that we had such a long day yesterday, the plan was to sleep in, then start the day whenever we were ready. However, due to a series of circumstances we all were up by around 7am. This ended up being advantageous as we used that time to chat, come up with a game-plan, get showered/dressed and then start our day.
We began with breakfast at Y and A, a corner coffee shop at the end of our block. The place was quaint and the food was excellent. Pete and I had pancakes while Dan had a breakfast sandwich. It looked so good that Pete and I spilt one ourself. We finished breakfast a little after 9:40am.
Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium
After paying we went in search of a bank so we could exchange our larger bills for smaller notes (10,000 Yen for five 2,000 Yen notes; ~$100). However, when we couldn’t find one, we decided to just head to the Kaiyukan Osaka Aquarium.
Exterior of the aquarium
My directions were, as usual, perfect. To be fair, it was extremely easy to get to. We arrived there at 10:25am and when I was paying for my ticket, the attendant asked where I was from. I think they just like figuring out where they get their tourism from. In any case, being that this was a Saturday, the place was pretty crowded with families and small children.
We slowly shuffled our way through the exhibits, but there was one main attraction I was there to see… the whale shark! To my knowledge, this aquarium is one of only two in the world that has a (technically two) whale shark(s) in captivity. The building was much larger than I thought it was but eventually we rounded a corner to find the main tank.
Whale Shark… nuff said
I saw a large group of people crowded at one window and then, there it was. I could not believe what I was seeing. I knew that the it would be big but nothing can prepare you for just how big and how majestic an animal like this will be. However, despite their size, the whale shark is notoriously gentle. I was a kid again, captivated by the sight of it. I would go so far as to say I took too many pictures of the whale sharks.
After exhausting everything there was to look at in the main tank, we made our way to the rest of the exhibits. The one that drew me in the most, besides the aforementioned whale shark was one we actually almost skipped because it looked too childish. As it turned out, it was an unofficial Finding Nemo exhibit.
The tank from Finding Nemo
It featured the fish from the movie but the best part was the replica tank/aquarium from P. Sherman’s dentist office at 42 Wallaby Way in Sydney. Not only did it have most of the fish from that tank (Peach (the starfish) and Bloat (the puffer fish) were missing), it also had the props like the volcano, the pirate ship, the tiki gods, the diver’s helmet and the treasure chest. #mybubbles
Eventually, we wrapped things up and made our way to Osaka Castle. Along the way Dan bought takoyaki and, despite it being too hot to consume in one bite as I tried to do, it was pretty tasty.
Osaka Castle/Osakajo Park
When we got off the train near Osaka Castle, we realized that it was located in the middle of Osakajo Park. Rather than make a beeline for the castle, we decided to stroll through the park and take in some of the sights. I’m glad we did because we ended up walking through some cool nature, seeing some cherry blossoms (part of the point of our trip), seeing locals barbecue, and a run in with an older gentleman named Kenji who told us about growing up in Osaka.
Osaka Castle with Cherry Blossoms
Eventually we made it to the castle. We decided to wait in line to get tickets to enter the museum/castle just as it started to lightly rain. Admission was only 600 Yen (about $5). We took the stairs (the line was shorter than the line for the elevator) up through the museum, to the top of the castle where we looked out over Osakajo Park. After looking around for a bit we regrouped and formed a plan.
I forgot to mention that on our way out of the park we saw a temple. It seemed very quiet but there were people gathered around the entrance. As we approached, we found that there was a traditional wedding ceremony taking place… pretty cool.
We decide to go to the Shitennoji Shrine which ended up being aligned with the first four letters of the shrine’s name. Not for any reason other than the fast that it had started to rain again and was closing by the time we got there. Plus, going to this one meant we had to bail on the other, and probably cooler Nanbayasaka Shrine. Oh well. After that failure we were beyond starving so we searched for a ramen place and hopped on a train.
For lunch/supper we went to a ramen place near Dotonbori. I was so hungry (I had been hungry since the castle) that anything would have been good, but this place was really good. Tiny spot on the corner of a back alley, it felt like it was right out of Blade Runner.
After that we went back to Air BnB to take a break and regroup. This meant naps for Pete and Dan and writing today’s blog so far.
Because I knew we were so close to it and because it was on our “to do” list, I decided to go to Dotonbori. I tried a few times to wake up the guys by calling their respective names but neither responded. I sort of felt like I was in a damned if you do damned if you don’t scenario.
If I woke them they might be mad I did so but happy to join. If I didn’t they’d feel I’d left them out but be glad to have slept. I decided to let sleeping dogs lie and went by myself. I was glad I did because it meant I got to roam freely through the many streets and alleyways.
This part of town is pretty hard to describe so I’m going to do it in stream of consciousness. River, neon, clubs, lots of people, covered shopping streets, arcades, restaurants, alleyways, fuck boys, escorts, red light district, traffic, sirens, late night, mayhem, vending machines.
I’m sure there’s more I could add but it was all really a blur. One thing I will point out is this vending machine I went to where I thought I was getting a can of chocolate milk and instead ended up with hot coco… from a vending machine… in a can!
I ended up having a good time and when I got back found myself “damned if you don’t” as Pete was pissed I hadn’t woken him up. Oh well.