Oh, Osaka

 

We were watching a cocktail making demonstration when someone pointed out that we were arriving in Osaka.

 

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Though Lillia tried her best to keep our attention with her Bellinis, Bloody Marys and Brandy Alexanders, the scene unfolding outside was just too distracting!

 

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Anyway, it looked like there was a welcome party going on just over there on the quayside.  Let’s go and take a look.

 

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Oh my goodness, the Osaka Junior Band is out to welcome us, playing a selection of jolly tunes to which these dear little girls are dancing.  But it’s freezing cold out there, there’s a chill wind blowing and everyone looks, to use an expression from my childhood, nithered.

 

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But they played on, waving and smiling and of course, we responded.  What  a lovely welcome to the city!  But oh my, what a change in the weather from yesterday.

 

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The string men were there and in no time at all, we were berthed and ready to go!  Having completed all the Japanese Immigration procedures at Hiroshima, we were all set  My hero and I were going it alone in Osaka and we were already on our starting blocks.

 

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Just fifteen minutes after we’d secured and the gangplank was lowered, we were standing on the station!

 

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Though we’d not been here before and the Japanese restrictions on internet connections meant we’d not been able to research the journey fully, it felt as though we were on familiar territory.

 

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The ticket machine flummoxed us initially, but we sought help from the station master who graciously processed two one-day Eco tickets at Y600 each for us, gave us a map and bowed as we thanked him profusely.

 

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My hero soon worked out where we needed to go – the numbered stations make plotting a route very easy and he’d got it sorted in no time.

 

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We were down on the platform, listening to the tinkly chimes of the subway station signals and pinched ourselves to check that yes, we really were here!

 

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What’s more, our train was arriving!  Can you believe that shortly before 12.30 we’d still been on the ship?

 

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I was so excited that we got off the train a stop too soon!!  Oh no!  As we stood, map in hand, trying to work out why there was no red connection here, only a pink one, we heard a soft voice behind us,

“How may I help you?”

The Station Master was there with his guidebooks and timetables, ready, willing and able to offer us assistance, when actually, we’d just realised what we had done.   More profuse thanks…more bowing and smiling…and then the slow realisation that I could run and get a station stamp from Awaza station, since we were here…

 

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With a seven minute frequency on this line, even on a Sunday, we didn’t have long to wait.

 

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The super clean and efficient subway train arrived, clearly having come through a rainstorm and as we stood admiring the varied lengths of the hanging straps which would cater for all heights and sizes…how sensible is that…we also realised that we had no umbrellas with us.

 

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First stop, then, having reached our destination, was to stop by the 7-11 for a grocery store umbrella each.  We’ve done this before and really, these umbrellas are amazing.  Intended to be semi-disposable, nevertheless we’re still using those from a previous visit at home.  At Y500  (about £3.50) each they are a bargain!

 

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Come on then, let’s get out onto the street!  We were heading for Loft, one of my favourite stores and though we had the location clearly marked on a map, locating the route wasn’t easy in the station passages, where it’s so difficult to maintain one’s bearings.  Even my hero was finding it a challenge, so we decided to put out heads outside and walk in the rain, on the street.  Much easier then, to see what was where and where we were.

Don’t you love the Japanese zebra crossing?  Not quite Shibuya, but the same principle..all cross in every direction at the same time.

 

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What’s so special about Loft?  Well, it’s a blend of house/home store but with great crafts and stationery.  Oh yes, right up my alley (and yes, my hero indulges me here)

 

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Up to the sixth floor and oh, be still my beating heart.  There’s a floor full of my kind of things!

 

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This is a small section of the Washi tape department.  Yes, a small section!  And for those who “know” about such things, let me explain that the MT tapes have a department all of their own.  The Washi tapes alone are displayed in a section about the same size as the breakfast cereals in my local supermarket.  Hmmm.

 

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After a while, I make my purchases and we move on, firstly back to the station, where we’re going to hop on another subway line to go to Doguyasuji Street, where the foodie/kitcheny shops are.  It’s the first time I’ve noticed the “Women only boarding points” and I think what a good idea they are.  Each of the stations in the city centre has half a dozen or so clearly marked sections, nearest the entrance/exit.

 

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When we get to Namba Station, we decided to get a drink from a vending machine, except this wasn’t a vending machine at all but a normal, everyday kiosk.  As my hero is making the purchase, I spot the familiar book covers up there on sale in the kiosk too – recognise them?

 

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Suitably refreshed, we walk through the “Namba Walk” area to Doguyasuji, where there’s plenty going on this Sunday afternoon.

 

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First, though, let’s admire the manhole covers, shall we?

 

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It always amuses me though, that such details are well considered and rather beautiful and yet the street scene here in Japan is always uncharacteristically untidy.  Can you see the young woman in her “cos” of short froufrou dress and cutsie styling?  She’s advertising an electronics store down the road in the style of Tokyo’s Akihabara district.  I’d like to take a closer photograph of her but don’t feel I can…so we walk right on by.

 

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Turning into Doguyasuji street proper, the first shop is selling the cafe curtains, aprons and tablelinens we admire.  I’ve often thought about hanging one of these divided linen curtains over the top, open half of our kitchen door in the summer and once again, I’m regretting having no measurements with me.  There are some striking designs here, not all with Japanese script on them.  ever mind…we’ll keep moving!

 

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The next store has crockery…

 

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and the next, lanterns.  This is such a fascinating street and one I’d have loved to have lingered in.  Next time, perhaps.

 

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The arcade-style street opened up into a wider square, where there was some commotion going on.  Some cartoon characters were there and we realised that it’s a theatre or TV studio set up.  A chap approached my hero and introduced himself with his catchphrase “goooooey—gooooooeeey—gooooey!”   After a brief discussion about British comedians (he hadn’t heard of any of those we mentioned) we left him to raise some cheers amongst the crowds and bade him farewell with a very British and polite “Gooooeey-goooooeeey-gooooeeey”!

 

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The characters themselves were enormous and I was rather surprised that the children were ok about approaching them.

 

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They clearly have a popular following!

 

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We were tiring by now, but still enjoying being here.  We made our way back through the Pachinko parlours and the little restaurants to the station.  Just one stop and we’d be in the other of my destination shops.  Tokyu Hands.

 

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We did sneak into Bic Camera on the way though, to get another SD card for my camera.  Good prices, excellent service and another awe-inspiring shopping stop.  The wealth of choice, the level of stock and the abundance of new and up to the minute models of every technological gadget and gizmo imaginable makes this a truly fascinating place.

 

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We did make an half hour stop in Tokyu Hands, though both agreed that perhaps, in this part of Osaka at least, Loft might have the edge.  So, although I found a few different bits and pieces (which will be revealed in due course), really, there wasn’t that much new.  For sure we were tired, it was getting late and we might even have been feeling a little hungry.  Now, that’s an unusual feeling around here Winking smile

We took the subway back to Osakaka Station and walked back along the little street towards home.  There, at the end, was Voyager and a comfy pair of slippers!

We’ve no idea what day it is

Paper Cranes