A $40 party, and a river cruise

Does anyone read these blogs? They take bloody ages to write.

Anyways, last night was the Whynotjapan! International Party in Osaka, at Sam and Daves Bar. The entry fee was 2500 yen or 40 dollars roughly, but was unlimited food and drink. I thought this party would have all the gaijin (foreigners) of Osaka out partying. I caught the subway from near Shin-Imamiya (something like Donbatuen-mae on the Midoguchi line) through to where this bar was. Was supposed to be 1 minute walk from gate 6. Turns out gate 6 was closed. Interesting note, most times there will be two gates, one on each side of the road. I exited from gate 7, and instead of crossing the road and going to the club, decided to walk 30 minutes in a big giant circle. Eventually made it to the club. Being stamped with invisible ink was cool, no unsightly ink on the wrists the next day.

The club was packed, and hence unlimited drinks and food really meant one plate of food every five minutes for 200 people, and a ten minute wait for a glass of beer. Still, I tried for about 10 drinks so each drink was only 250 yen. I met a cool guy called Hiro who works for Bosch in Detroit. There weren’t many foreigners in the club, and of the Japanese people, not many spoke English, but Hiro did, and was an excellent person to talk to all night. The music was pumping, and the scene was pretty good, but as I get older, I just can’t be bothered rocking, and surrounded by Japanese men, that night was no exception.

Today was my last day in Osaka touring, so I made a good go of it. First off was heading to Osaka Castle. No trip to Osaka can be complete without heading there. While the castle grounds and a lot of things have been around since the 1600s, the castle itself has only been around for 80 years. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, as all buildings need to be repaired. Made it into the castle, entrance was free because of the Osaka unlimited pass. Didn’t really spend much time in the castle as it is a museum, and I’m not really a fan of museums. The view from the eighth floor was good. Caught a fake steam train to the other side of the castle grounds. One thing that was impressive was the castle grounds. First, there is the outer moat. If you could get through the outer moat without dying, then there’s the wall of the moat to climb. And then battle through the castle grounds. And then get through the massive walls and then reach the inner moat. After that there’s more castle grounds, and finally the stairs up to the castle. Seriously, those armies must have been at it for ages to take this castle. 600 yen I think.

A light jog down past Kintetsu station to find the Aqualiner, which is the Osaka river cruise boat. The boat cruise is normally 1600 yen, but free from December to February with the Osaka Unlimited Pass. This was a boat that cruises the rivers of Osaka. While the cruise itself was uneventful, the boat was pretty cool. As some of the bridges are pretty low, the boat which is normally 2.4m tall can lower the roof by another 30cm to get under low bridges. Sweet.

60 minutes later, it was time to head to the pier. The pier area of Osaka is a tourist destination, and takes a little while to get there via subway. Interestingly, the subway goes above ground towards the pier, which is weird for a subway. When I saw the light of day I was a little surprised. All the vending machines had drinks for 100 yen. Considering most places have drinks for 120 to 150 yen, that’s some sweet savings right there. Vending machines everywhere is just amazing. You literally only ever have to walk 2 minutes before getting a drink. Why is this not in New Zealand? Probably because people would rob the vending machines, or steal them.

Took a ride on the world’s largest ferris wheel. Was 600 yen after discount (thank you Osaka pass). They took a photo of me before I jumped on the ride, to try and sell to you as you exit. Turns out it was a really nice photo, so I bought it for 1000 yen. The view from the top was well, much the same as the view from Osaka castle. I mean I like going up to the top of tall buildings as much as the next guy (and this ferris wheel was 112.5 or 125 m tall or something like that), but a skyline view is a skyline view. There are a lot of bridges in Osaka, with lots of varied designs. They all don’t look the same at all. It must be a competition to make the most interesting bridges.

From here, headed towards the Aquarium, via KFC. 240 yen later, I was eating that delicious bit of chicken. Seriously, first bit of hot food I’ve had here. I’m getting a little sick of just eating sandwiches from 7-11 or Lawson Station (a dairy). At least the dairies are open 24 hours. That’s handy. I also bought everyone at work their Japanese gifts. It’s always like revenge in a way, I purchase things for people that I would’t want personally myself. I won’t say what these are, but I won’t be eating them.

Speaking of uncomfortable things, I don’t remember if I mentioned I tried a bidet for the first time. A bidet for those who don’t know, is a toilet that squirts water up your bottom to clean it. I adjusted the water pressure to minimum since I was a virgin (so to speak), and let her rip. It was the first time I’d been up a one way street, and I can’t say I really enjoyed it to be honest. And then I was left with a wet bum.

Instead of heading to the aquarium (2000 yen, I’m spending money faster than my girlfriend does), I went to Suntory Museum. Suntory make drinks, much like Frucor in New Zealand. Coffee, fruit juice, all that jazz. Why they have a museum, I do not know. I do know it has one of the largest, if not the world’s largest IMAX theater. For 900 yen I got to watch Deep Blue in 3D. It was awesome, really good value for 1 hour. My handy tip, the 3D glasses don’t sit around the ears, but instead at the top of the head. If you look foreign, you’ll get a pass for wireless headphones that play the movie in English. It’s been a while since I’ve been to a 3D movie, and the first one that didn’t use red/blue glasses. It takes a while to adjust and is difficult on the eyes, but the images looked amazing. When the screen is so big, it’s a bit like real life – you can’t focus on everything so you just look at stuff in the middle.

After the movie, I popped outside and jumped on the Santa Maria (normally 1600 yen, free with the pass). The Santa Maria was made in 1990, and looks like an old fishing trawler dressed like it was a sailing ship. Either way, it goes for a cruise around Osaka harbour for 45 minutes. I really enjoyed being out on the harbour and seeing all the bridges and the port and boats. The bustle of Osaka is simply amazing, and really puts the port at Greymouth to shame. Seriously Greymouth, one barge a year? I’m not impressed.

After this, it was starting to get dark, but I thought I’d have enough time to buy a memory card reader and a power multiboard from Yodobashi-Umeda. Yodobashi is the Dick Smith of Japan, and seems to always exist by train stations (and is 9 stories tall full of electronics). I got a memory card reader that has two SD slots and one micro-SD slot for 1280 yen, which is how I uploaded pictures tonight. My digital camera only accepts memory cards up to 2GB, so that’s a pain. It’s even more of a pain since I only have a 1GB memory card. I do however have another 16GB memory card, so now I can copy files from my day to day memory card to a backup memory card.

The multiboard was 880 yen for a three point one, and a 3M cable. One thing I forgot to check or ask about was power in the room. The only power socket is on the roof for a fan, which is a pain. With this multiboard, I’m now able to finally charge my phone and camera and video camera.

After getting the electronic gadgets, it was time to head to the Osaka World Trade Center for a view at the top, 55 floors tall. The building is 256m tall, which is a quarter of a kilometre. That’s massive. Imagine the Hamilton City Council buildings times six, and that’s the height of this building. Simply massive. One of the most interesting things was the escalator from the 52 to the 55th floor. A three story escalator is impressive. The view was like a skyline, but at night.

Ended up getting lost again, and was running late for my internet date with my girlfriend. Instead of catching three subways for free, I caught a JR Express Train to Shin-Imamiya. Unfortunately, the ticket machine was all in Japanese. Thankfully I had ICAOCA (like a Snapper card), so using that I didn’t have to worry about buying tickets and working out the prices. It takes care of it for you. I still missed the internet date.

Big day tomorrow, leaving on a 6am train for Nagoya, Nagano, and Tokyo!

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