The rest of the photos can be found here: 2007 Japan Photo
Oke in Osaka
I got to Osaka a day early with Mark and his roommate. Both of them were leaving out of Osaka the next day to fly back to Korea. Once off the subway and up to natural ground in I felt at ease there and knew that I was going to have a good 6 days there. I wasn’t able to get to my hostel until the next day so I booked a hotel near Mark and his roommate hotel and then went out on the town. We went to a couple of places around town and were amazed with the easiness of the subway system. Osaka is a smaller Tokyo, but had its own dank that made it unique. That day we went to a spot that was one of the Street Fighter Stage, the Floating Garden, the electronic district and Dotombori to catch some food and beat Mark one more time in Initial D racing game. When I got to my hotel I didn’t realize how small it was; I couldn’t take a proper bath in the shower, washing my face was difficult, a 2.5 feet hallway was ridiculous, and my bed was small as shit, but it worked for the night and was grateful for amount of good rest I got that night.
The Next Day
Throughout my trip I thought for the most part that I would be on my own exploring Japan and socializing with the locals. But that simply wasn’t truly the case, everywhere I have gone I have met somebody and enjoyed their company. Whenever I tell people that I went alone to Japan they are amazed, but after experiencing it and looking back at my photos that isn’t the case at all and would think of me going alone to another land as me vesting a place with friends unexpectedly and doing random things in a place we don’t know much about.
After seeing Mark and his roommate off I was on my own and found my hostel with some difficulty. I thought the area I was staying in was a bad part of town because of the attendants at the other hotel telling me so, but I felt safe where I was and really didn’t see what they were talking about. I also realize that different people preserve situations differently and there is an even bigger difference in understanding of people from different cultures.
When I entered my hostel I was amazed with the cozy space and welcoming atmosphere that it presented. I was also greeted with the owner of the hostel, which was a Black Brazilian, named Oliver. We started to chat about the city, my plans for the future, what brought myself to Japan, and what he found so interesting to still be there after 7 years. I then went out on the town to do some sightseeing and some relaxation of the trip up until that point. When I got back to the hostel I was planning my next day until I saw some Australians chatting it up about something and I then joined the conversation. After while some other people join the conversation and we started to talk about our trips and so on. I believe later that night I went with the Australian guys (John and Procapus) to a club and had a pretty good time with the locals dancing to mainly hip hop. All I can say is damn, the Japanese know how to dance to our music and are crazy with perfecting it also, I was happy to see everyone having a good time and the woman feeling me (I danced with a couple of them). The club didn’t let out until 5:30 a.m. in the morning and by the time we got outside the sun was up and made our way to McDonalds for breakfast. I didn’t get a hangover because our hostel was about a 3 mile walk and started our day at around 11 a.m.
Universal Studios- We Were the Attraction
I decided to follow the Australians to Universal Studios for the day. I have never been to any Universal Studios and it seemed like the Australians have been to all of them. When we first walked in we saw a performance show of a lady dragging a monkey around doing tricks. If this show was done in the States she would have been taken to jail, she was dragging this monkey by the leash and I just kept laughing at the way she was man handling the monkey.
Most of the rides at Universal Studios were kiddy rides, but still very fun, the first ride was quite fun because I haven’t been to an amazement park in awhile and the steep deeps, crazy turns, and loop got me remembering of old times. One thing that I wish we would have done was to get the special pass that would allow us to skip a lot of people in line because we waited awhile in each of the rides/attractions that we participated in. Once riding a couple of rides we went to eat lunch at an American style diner and got some of the best pizza I have ever tasted, sausage and egg. Throughout the day we met some interesting characters; a lady worker that yelled, ”ARIGATO GOZAIMASU”, every second with a high pitch voice, it was quite entertaining; and another lady worker nodding her head frantically as we entered the ride. However, the biggest attraction of the whole trip was us, everyone was staring at us, people curious and a few took a photo also, some waved at us as we rode the rides, and girls we smiling at us while holding there boyfriend’s hand. The night was a great night of enjoying each other company and also spending time with the Japanese while they were on their holiday. It was nice for a change for the locals and people of Japan to be like tourist and enjoy their homeland in a relax-ful manner and getting away from routine.
Day 3 at the Club…Reggae Night
That same night we decided to go to the club again and this time it was Reggae night. We got there around 12 and the club was completely empty and we asked the people at the door why there were no people and they said people usually come around 3 a.m. So we stayed and had fun dancing with each other and mingled some with the locals. Once 3 came around the club was really packed, some of the people we came with left, but the locals really came there to have a good time. During the end of the night I just stepped back and watched the locals do what they do and it was crazy seeing them change up the dance style depending on the song, it was really something to see and just made me realize that if you really want to learn something you will do it in a way that you will want to become a master at.
Himeji and Kobe…
The night before we went out to the club again and got up late and myself and the British guys decided to go to Himeji and Kobe for the day. We woke up late “again”, but the trip was still enjoyable, we took a JR train out to Himeji first and l loved looking at the country side during the day. Once off of the train we stepped onto the streets of Himeji and within minutes were in front of the oldest castle in Japan. It was a site to see and was really amazed of not only the castle itself, but also the surroundings and how it was used during war time. Charlie, Rich, and myself enjoyed going through every part of the castle, taking pictures and some video shots, Charlie working on his Japanese with the locals, reading the interesting signs that were translated in English and realizing that the Japanese have a different way of expressing themselves through words and emotions. We didn’t know that we were going to stay at Himeji that long, but it was well worth it because of the things you can do there. Inside of the castle there were rooms everywhere and also hidden ones that would have been a perfect spot of hide and go seek. Once at the top of the castle you can look out and see the surroundings of the castle and also the beautiful city of Himeji. We quickly made our way through the garden, but only stayed for about 10 mins and made our way to Kobe.
Kobe…Beef…”The Pound is Strong”
I really wanted to go to Kobe, Japan because of the beef. I have heard so many things about the beef and really wanted to try it out myself. Charlie and Rich really didn’t want to go there, but went along anyways. It was getting dark outside so we decided not to do the mountain pass lift ride and went to the 10th tallest building of Kobe, viewed and took some pictures of what we could see, and man was it nice during sunset. Whenever I get a chance I will have to spend some days at Kobe to really enjoy the city, however, we were there for one thing and that was Kobe Beef. I was getting a little discourage and the guys kept the excitement going and Rich with his savviness figuring out maps found the place. This was really the only time I used my lonely planet and it came through during this time. I am not saying that the lonely planet was useless, but I rather ask the locals and observe with my eyes what places were good to go to and besides it is more fun to get lost in find a great or shitty place then rely on a book for all my travel needs.
When we entered the steakhouse I was amazed with the limit space, but was intriguing with the chefs, only 3. We sit down and ask for a menu and our jaws dropped because of the price. The expensive dinner with more amount of meat cost I believe 8400 yen (about 70 bucks) and the cheaper dinner plate was around 6400 yen (about 55 bucks). We closed our eyes and went for the cheaper plate and had our own beers. It was something of amazement; they cooked our beef with a couple of sides- french fries, green beans, and onions in front of us. Once the dinner plates came out I was the first one to take a bite and my mouth dropped with the flavor and tenderness of the meat and wanted more with the compliments of the other foods of the dinner plate. Every single drop of the beef was mouth watering and simply couldn’t get enough. Charlie and Rich were also enjoying the best meal of their lives and poked fun of me because I finished my plate first and was wanting more.
“The Pound is Strong”…
Well after finishing my food watching two British guys laugh in my face due to the amount of food that they had left on their plate I had two options. 1) Wait until they finish and leave tasting the best meal of my life or 2) Get another plate of delicious Kobe beef. I wasn’t to sure if the guys were up for another plate and ordered another plate for myself. They looked at each other and were wondering to get another plate as I did, I simply told them, “The Pound is strong” and won’t know when they’re going to enjoy a meal like this for some time. So we ate another plate together, I bought one of Charlie’s piece of beef for 1000 yen because I finished my food first again, we also took more pictures and video of the place and took pictures with the chefs. We went back in style to Osaka with our aprons on and got funny looks from the Japanese people and we enjoyed every bit of it.
When finally back in Osaka we told the hostel people of our adventures in Himeji and Kobe and decided to go do Karaoke. I didn’t want to participate in the singing, but the laughing and taking photos of everyone are what I wanted to do, but I did end up singing a couple of songs with the help of beer and friends encouraging me on. We ended up karaoking for 3 hours and once again went to McDonalds for breakfast (fries and burgers). All and all the night topped off a day that was truly one to remember as of all the days I was in Japan. Every day I learned something and that day I learned that as long as you have a couple of on your side it didn’t matter what you did, because the companionship, laughter, and randomness was all that was needed to have a good time. We could have easily spent a whole day in the hostel just goofing around watching tv and movies and would have enjoyed ourselves, but experiencing the moment with also the locals really gives a person a good understanding of the place being visited.
Electronics and Tokyo…
Well this was my last day in Osaka and pretty much bummed around and then went to the electronic district to get a Nintendo DS, some video games, and looked around various stores in the area. I didn’t want to leave, but had to catch the JR back to Tokyo to get on the plan back to the States. When I got back to Tokyo I arrived at the hostel late and wasn’t able to get in so I went to an eatery and then to the internet café. I did come to the realization that my trip was going to be over less than 24 hours and will be in a land that I am so familiar with, but my eyes were changed so much because of the 2 weeks spent in Japan. The next day I went to the hostel I couldn’t get into the night before and asked them what I could do for the next 5 hours. They told me the harbor and headed out that way for my last site-seeing/adventure trip in Japan for some time. The harbor was cool because of the different views I got of that part of the city and I took more time to reflect on my trip and totally understood that I am not the same person that I was when I arrived and will continue to grow as a real man and human being because of the Japan. I fully realize that I can enjoy myself with having so little possessions and really know what truly makes me happy in life.