On my last day, I again had breakfast at the toast place. I didn’t like spending a lot of time figuring out where I was going to eat breakfast when I just needed to get going! I got everything ready to go for 11:00 am checkout. I was taking down the elevator downstairs to check out when I ran into my friend Kimberly on the 3rd floor, about to do the same thing! It wasn’t until then that I remembered we were both going to be at the same hostel and in Kyoto at the same time (for a little bit, in her case. She and her friend started in Tokyo and went all over). What a small world! We had been in the hostel for at least a good day or two without even seeing each other! I never spent much time in the common room (my room was more comfortable) and for the day before I had been in Nara for most of it so maybe it shouldn’t have surprised me. I was jealous of how many cities Kimberly and her friend had gone to, but not of how much time they had spent in trains!
The kind worker behind the hostel desk helped me talk to the next hotel (they had never emailed me back despite me sending several emails to the address given by the booking site. The booking site also said the check-in time was 3:00, though the man on the phone apparently said 4. It didn’t matter, as I was able to check in at 2:30, thankfully). It took longer to get to Osaka than she said, a total of maybe 3 hours instead of 2. I think I may have caught the local train when I meant to catch the express. My hotel was a small but otherwise comfortable business hotel that must have been built in the 70s.
After a little rest from the journey (and the heat), I headed for Kyoto to see Osaka castle. The first day I arrived I bought a special one-day pass that was good for the subway and buses, and came with discounts to a lot of the attractions. Unfortunately I couldn’t really take advantage of it because I didn’t leave my hostel first thing in the morning, something I would have had to do if I wanted to see several attractions. The transfers were going well because of the hostel woman’s directions. Then I was confused at one point, and was trying to hold my map up in the most obvious way I knew how. It was during times like this where I did appreciate Korea, because if you look very lost someone will usually help you after a minute or two. (It helps if you are using a paper map though, if you are looking at your phone it is less obvious that you are lost). In Japan, though, it took a lot longer for someone to stop and help. Maybe it’s because they are so used to foreigners that one last girl doesn’t really cause ripples in the water? Nonetheless, a woman who turned out to be two or three years older than me stopped and said which line to take. She was taking the same line, and didn’t mind showing me directions. We went and bought JR tickets at the next opportunity, only to find out there had been some kind of accident (someone had been hit) so we had to get refunds. She said I could take a taxi with her, as her dinner party was closeish to Osaka castle.
Something I didn’t expect was that the drivers all have steering wheels on the right side. It’s only the ‘exotic’ cars that have left-hand steering. The funny thing about taxis in Japan is that the drivers have some kind of button to open the rear left door, and they do it to let our their passengers but also to indicate the taxi is available. It was the oddest thing, and I could only thing of the air conditioning escaping the cars when they left the doors open. I gave the girl my email address, and I hope that she will email me, but like with Giwa I think the occurence of sharing a taxi ride with a foreigner might not have been as once-in-a-lifetime for her as it was for me. I do remember her name meant “Peach Blossom” in Japanese though.
Finally I reached my destination! Osaka castle is mainly a museum, so for the original preservation types it would have been a let-down. Anyway, the castle apparently hasn’t been in its original form for hundreds of years. For 300 yen I tried on some kind of uniform I guess might have been traditionally worn by a general. One lady, someone’s mother I think, said “Kawaii,” as she looked at me, because I was obviously not very intimidating. darn! 😉
The pictures the guy took which were full-length looked even more funny because I was wearing shorts, so I looked like a pantsless general. There were also a lot of stray cats around the castle. I’m not thinking these guys were sacred, though. During my time in Korea it is really rare to see stray animals, so to see so many at once was out of the ordinary. There was an orange cat in particular who I know is the real Garfield. He(she?) was fat and orange. He had a lot of admirers, and people were taking pictures with him or of him (myself included). I was super hungry by this point…hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I stopped by the nearest place, called Mos Burger. The most interesting thing about the place was that they had melon soda. It wasn’t that bad. On the walls were those pictures that were pretty popular in the 90s, those pictures of a little boy and girl in adult clothes and black and white photographs.
I kind of wanted to see the famous Dotonbori street, but I was by myself and tired and didn’t feel my desire to go was greater than my desire to go back. I only had WiFi in the lobby, so I talked to Dad on skype with my ipod and headed upstairs. I set about figuring how to activate the pay-per-view type thing because I wanted to watch Sherlock Holmes 2 again. Ultimate I had to ask the front desk for help, and they turned me away once before I came back again determined. It seems that in Asia people will do anything to get you to go away and so you have to be extra patient and determined. Come to think of it, I guess that’s life in general. For all that trouble, though, I fell asleep about 30 minutes into the movie because I was so tired.
The next morning I woke up at 5:30 due to noise in the hallway. (Are people this loud in hotels at home, are the walls thicker in the west, or do I just not notice it there? ) I was down for the 8:45 shuttle which arrived properly on time. I left my luggage in the van, but thankfully the other people in the van brought it in for me! Oh how awful it would have been to have gotten all the way to the airport and had the luggage go back to the hotel. Getting through security was amazingly easy. I couldn’t believe it. I don’t know if it was because it was a Sunday, maybe a less popular airport, or maybe Korean and Japanese airports are the best ever.