Only one month later…

Silver Week: Sunday
OSAKA! I choose YOU!
            Today was amazing. A few days ago, Kaitlin, Lain and I decided that we wanted to go to Osaka and find the infamous Pokemon Center located there.
The day started off at mediocre because I ended up paying 280 yen over on the bus to Hirakata because I’m basically ignorant to the formalities of obtaining change on public transportation. Then, when we went inside the train station and bought a ticket, I thought I lost my ticket about 2 minutes later and it was only after a minor influx of annoyance that I found the ticket and we were on our way.
After successfully switching trains from the Keihan line to the Osaka Loop, a bit of confusion set in when we realized we didn’t know what stop we wanted to get off at… and we were already on the train… moving in a direction we didn’t know whether or not was correct. No matter, we ended up getting off a stop early, waited for the next train to come, then squished our way in for a short ride to Osaka center.
We thought that the trains were confusing, but the exits to the station were just as bad. Lain had been to Osaka before and so we relied on her good memory and sense of direction to get us to where we needed to go. Unfortunately, I thought the north gate seemed like a nice place to go, and steered the group in the wrong direction (haha whoops). Backtrack #1 of the day: We went back to the station and decided to head out another gate. We were incorrect yet again, however decided that since we were going to spend a day in Osaka, we might as well just look around. Lain also recognized the area a little bit and so we figured we were on the right track.
We walked and walked and realized that we had no idea where we were, so I reverted to a game that my friend Emily Ramlow likes to play called: “Left, Right”. Essentially, you go down a road and when you get to an intersection or fork or any kind of path that splits into multiple parts, you ask the group “Left? Right?”. Whatever direction they choose is the direction you all go. Oh it’s definitely a fun game. Especially when you don’t know where it is you’re going.
Left: We headed left at a huge intersection. While we were walking I looked up at the skyscrapers and saw two huge construction cranes sitting on top. It was amusing for me, so I had to pose the question, “How did they get up there?!” A question to which we had the theory: A helicopter probably dropped them off. Dang it, Japan and your innovative ways. As we walked down and admired the building, we came to what looked like an alley filled with restaurants. We found out that it was actually an alley filled with restaurants that attached to many of passages lined with restaurants, pachinko, and 100 yen shops.
We played some “Left, Right” in there and the whole thing seems to be a blur, but we ended up getting out of that shopping area and into a similar one. In this shopping spot, we found an arcade that had a photo booth to do Purikura because we’re gaijin and think we’re cool haha. So we went to go to Purikura, but only after we spent a few hundred yen trying to get toys we really don’t need out of the crane machine game.
Purikura is a lot of fun. We didn’t really know how difficult it was to decorate those pictures because the Japanese girls usually did it for us. Unfortunately, I didn’t send any of the pictures to my phone, but we did print them out and now they’re stickers ON my phone. :] After finally finishing Purikura, we left the arcade and wandered to another part of the shopping area where we found a pet shop!
This pet shop had a number of dogs, a few birds, a few bunnies, and one monkey. They were all super cute! There was a little play pen in the middle of the store where some dogs were sleeping or trying to get the attention of a passerby. These dogs felt super grody, but were really, really cute. It was really sad though because some of the dogs looked so ill. :[ I wish I could just take them home!
On a less depressing note, in the back of the store, among parrots, parakeets, and bunnies, was a MONKEY. Yes. A monkey that was a curious little bugger. It grabbed my camera a couple of times, but I thought it was amusing because- I mean come on- it’s a monkey. After satisfying my “being amused by a monkey” quota, I went back to the puppies because I’m a sucker for them and I can’t help it. At PetCo and PetSmart in the States, I would blow air through the cracks of cages and window cases to see how the animals react. Most of the time, birds just moved away or stayed put; ferrets don’t care; and dogs react. It seemed like these puppies were so excited to see a human other than the workers at the shop. I felt soooo bad when they came up to the window and pawed at the glass! Wah wah wah. I know. I can’t help it…
Anyways, we were a little bit depressed at the sight of those puppies, so we ended up leaving and after another round of “Left, Right’ we found the exit to the place. The area is called Namco Center and right across the street was a huge ferris wheel. YES. Lain recognized the place and we decided to pursue our original plan: Find the Pokemon Center! Off we went into another alley in the direction of the ferris wheel.
This path led us past restaurants, more shop and restaurants that tempted us to go in and purchase everything. We finally found our way to the mall where Lain realized where we were. Kaitlin and I were then led successfully to the Pokemon Center Osaka!! Since the day had been going really well and we realized a long time before that we would be satisfied even if we didn’t see the Pokemon Center, we decided to eat before going inside. The place to eat: MOS Hamburger. At first, I was a little wary on eating fast food since I hadn’t been feeling too well the entire week, but then for no logical reason other than the fact that I was hungry, I decided what the hell and got a burger anyways. It’s a good thing I had because it turns out MOS hamburgers are nothing short of very delicious!
So we inhaled these magical burgers, sat and digested, and finally made our way to the Pokemon Center. At first, I was just excited because of the anticipation. After I entered my inner otaku became super giddy at the sight of plush Pikachus and Pokemon phone charms. The place was super crowded and even looking at an item for more than 10 seconds granted a dirty look from surrounding clientale. After moseying around the store for an amount of time I don’t remember, I decided I should probably pay for my Evee keychain, pokeball (yes, that’s right DDave, if you’re reading this, I made sure to get you a pokeball), and super cute Pikachu plush.
While I waited for my friends Lain and Kaitlin to follow suit, I stood patiently by the door, watching excited kids and, oddly enough, just as excited adults get shamelessly and loudly greeted at the entrance. Then, I heard it… “PIIIIIKACHUUU”… the sound of little children calling for an animated pocket monster grabbed my attention. Once again, “PIIIIIKAAAAACHUUUU!!”… and all of a sudden, a giant Pikachu (giant, being a relative terms since this Pikachu was Asian-sized; therefore around 5 feet to 5 foot 5 inches) comes bounding out to the sounds of pleased children and a general Japanese onomatopoeia  of surprise, “Ehhhhhhhhhh!!” I was completely and utterly surprised and satisfied at this event and couldn’t be happier to witness it.
Lain and Kaitlin finally came outside and we decided that our day was over, so we should probably head back to Katahoko. On our way back, we stopped at a crepe shop and we each got something different: Kaitlin got a crepe, Lain got tea with tapioca, and I got a mango ice cream. Oishii desu yo! :] We then circled the area about twice, tried to find our way back, got lost a few times, and eventually asked for directions to find the Osaka railway.
Success. We found the railway, got on the correct train this time, and enjoyed the relaxing wait for our stop, Hirakata-shi. From there were took a bus back, and while we were waiting, we sat down on a bench. I saw two elderly people a man and a woman out of the corner of my eye, and as a reflex jumped up and asked them if they wanted to sit down. They gladly accepted the gesture and told us we could sit down next to them. We said it was ok, and stood until the bus came. To our surprise, the Nihonjin man greatly appreciated our random act of kindness and once we were all settled on the bus, he threw a package of these cracker-type things to Lain and gestured that we were to share it. We were tickled to death and couldn’t stop saying “Arigatou gozaimasu!” Halfway through the ride, and after a lot of giggling, the man got our attention once again by handing Kaitlin more food. This time they were some kind of puffed rice type of thing (sorry I don’t know how to describe them) that had a slight taste of ginger. Again, we were struck with gratitude. So Lain drew a picture of the man and of herself, then told us to draw ourselves as well. Since Kaitlin and I both knew we’d fail at it, we just decided to write “thank you”. I wrote it in romaji and in Spanish! Had to. When it was our stop, we handed him the little note, gave a deep bow and a very sincere “domo arigatou gozaimasu”. We all walked back to Sem House 3, laughing at the best parts of the day and even how we got lost. We were all extremely satisfied at the adventure we had and made sure that we would do it again one day.
All in all, the day couldn’t have turned out any better. :] 

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October 7, 2009. Uncategorized.

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