Amazing OsakaDecember 9, 2016 in Japan
Note the use of the word "Amazing", that was intended. As in "Amazing Pass Osaka", the best purchase we've made yet!
We arrived in Osaka just as the sun was setting, so no time for sight seeing! We made our way to our airbnb booking (shh... Airbnb is illegal in Japan, something that my lovely host wrote to me AFTER I had booked) following these lovely picture directions. He had a picture for every turn we needed to make to first guide us to a moped. Our room key was hidden inside a padlock, hidden inside the trunk of this moped. With our key, we made our way, again following the pictures, to our apartment. Now this booking was on point! For the same price as 2 beds in the cheapest hostel (at least of what we could see online), we had a small but functional studio in a brand new building. Putting the key in at the building entrance opened these automatic glass doors. The same key unlocked the two dead bolts on our apartment door. You came into a mini kitchen with a 2 burner stove top and a sink but no oven or microwave or fridge, a tiny toilet room, a door connecting to the main space which was basically our mattress on the ground and a coffee table, with a shower room. Doesn't sound like much written down, but everything was brand new, squeaky clean, towels were provided, we could make some tea at night, it was perfect. Our home for 3 nights was announcing to be good.
The next morning is when we discovered the Amazing Pass. Jack read in TripAdvisor reviews about it, and we thought it would be worth it. It included all local subways unlimited for 2 days plus a list of different activities that you can chose to do for free. The pass was 3,000yen each, and after a quick calculation we each did roughly 4,800yen worth of activities on the first day alone, not counting any of the subways we took! Granted we did some activities we wouldn't have done had we not had this pass, but with it, why not! Like the zoo. Not a very interesting zoo, and I certainly didn't come to Japan to visit a zoo, but when Jack is around and needs constant entertainment, running around the zoo for an hour seems like a great idea!
We did 2 observation towers, one during the day and one at night. We did a ferris wheel at night. We did 2 boat trips (oh yes, 2), one took us around Dotonbori to see all the advertisements and old bridges, and the other that took us to the Osaka Castle (also free with our pass). I'm sure that whoever creates these passes dread people like us, because we make it a goal of ours to make it as worth while as we can! Kind of like on flights when they ask what you want to drink and I always answer "a beer and a coke". The beer is where the money is, and the coke is just a bonus.
The night time ferris wheel gave us an incredible view of the city lights. You had to wait a little longer to get into the complete glass bubble so you could see thru the floors, but that was important for Jack. I on the other hand, planned on not looking down at all. Everytime I did accidently or to try and push myself, I'd get a head rush and feel nauseous. Learnt that one quickly. The most terrifying was at top very top. We seemed to be turning so slow at that point, I felt like yelling at them to speed things up. You have no reference point, nothing to ground you at the top. Jack took a photo of me smiling and looking casual, that's after telling me to look at her, let go of the railing and "try not to look terrified". That being said, the views made it more then worth it. Osaka lights stretched as far as we could see in every direction. Getting to the ferris wheel was also interesting since the nearby aquarium had yet another elaborate light display. Another observation we did on our second night was just at sunset, from the "floating gardens" at the Umeda Sky building. They were just as breathtaking, only this time I was on solid ground. I could fully enjoy the views without gripping onto a railing. As long as I don't look down.
We also did 2 museums, because why not, free. We hadn't done any museums yet, so I accepted to do them. Turns out they were very similar to each other, both having representations of what living in old day Japan was, mostly talking about Emperors and the Osaka castle. The Housing and Living museum was the same concept as the Children's Museum in Hull, with a life size walk through representation of an old village. You could rent kimonos there, and there were tons of young girls spending their time taking selfies or posed photos of each other in this "old town" with kimonos. I know stereotypes shouldn't be encouraged, but the one where Asians love to take pictures and selfies - dead on. And not just here, but everywhere in Japan. They even have signs saying "walking while looking at your phone is dangerous" or "No stopping for pictures at the exit" and so forth. The second museum, The Osaka Museum of History was a more grown up, read boring, version of, with old things behind glass and explanations next to it. Only plus side is there was hardly anything written in English, all Japanese explanations, so no excuse needed for me not reading the little blurbs.
A goal of mine was to try and understand, or at least witness the gaming culture in Japan. So we went to an area called Den Den town where there is the highest concentration of gaming things... Not as exciting as I thought. We walked through an arcade where the first two floors were those crane games where you hope the claw drops and grabs something. People seemed very concentrated, and your prize was mostly something related to video games like action figures. It was here that I tried my hardest, twice, to win a mini stuffed bunny for my pregnant sisters. I failed. Both times. The female action figures were even more sexualized that I had imagined with tiny skirts and cleavage that makes one wonder how she can fight evil without spilling over. The more interesting floors however were where teenage boys played their arcade games, namely a ridiculously advanced version of guitar hero. I've never seen fingers move so quickly in my life. I kid you not - there was 10 buttons PER hand to coordinate with the instructions on the screen, which came with multiple "colors" to press at once. Guitar hero as I know it has 4 buttons and an up/down switch for the second hand. This thing was crazy, and the guys playing it even crazier. Makes you wonder - are these boys popular for it? Is it like a pick up line one says "I've mastered the 10 finger guitar hero, wanna see?". Still such a mystery to me.
We topped the second night off wandering around Dotonburi, a very colorful, lively area with the famous "running man" sign. Great area with great energy where we seemed surrounded by tourists despite not being able to tell them apart from locals... Everyone taking pictures and selfies, all look Japanese. Local tourism here is huge and fantastic . So yes, the Amazing Osaka pass was amazing indeed!Read more