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Attaku, Attaku, Namba One!

July 22, 2009

(Originally Published 02/09/2007)

I forgot to mention something the other day.  While we were in Kyoto, we passed a little alley that had an art display which read “Touch Me!”  It was a bunch of wooden boxes filled with mixed media.  Some of the boxes were filled with things like shells, pine cones, or feathers, and had appropriate words on the outside (such as sea, woods, or sky) and some of the boxes opened up onto door after door after door.  There was one box with castanets and a clicking music maker.  I had a really great time playing with them.

Anyway, yesterday I went to Osaka with Lee and Willy!

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We were able to figure out where we would need to change trains on our own.  Travelling is so expensive in Japan!  Most of the costs of food are comparable to the United States but taking the bus and train really adds up fast.  We spend at least 1000 yen each on travelling whenever we take the train somewhere.  Anyway, we transferred from the Keihan Line to the Suidosuji Subway Line and emerged into the heart of Den Den Town.  Den Den Town is Osaka’s version of Akihabara (the electric city) and like Akiba it is totally overwhelming.  There are lights flashing everywhere and music pumping out of speakers right and left.  There are people out on the street yelling and trying to get you to come inside, cars and motorcycles racing by and honking at each other and at pedestrians, and people inside the stores yelling “Irrashaimase!” (“Welcome!”) everytime anyone enters the store.  We had a great time going up and down all the different stores.  Most stores have several levels, some as many as seven floors.  There are electronics stores everywhere but the reason I go is for the otaku stores.  Man, there are some cheap electronics there!  Laptops for under $100.  A computer (minus monitor) for $40.  Keyboards for $1.  Lee picked up a copy of Memoirs of a Geisha (paperback) for 10yen and it still had the sticker on the back for the original retail price of over 2000yen.  Some stores have different levels for different video game consoles!  We found stacks of Famicons for about 3000yen each.  Some stores are full of anime and manga and books.  Other stores have model train floors, model battleship and castle floors, and model car floors.  There are several slotcar racing tracks in the area.  There are stores full of gachapon (capsule toy) machines.  Just about every other store is full of adult videos and magazines.  It’s all mixed in with everything else.  The cartoon porn is the really frightening stuff.  As I was walking between levels I usually had to pass through tall, narrow aisles filled with somewhat disturbing images.  It was during one of these tunneling sessions that I thought to myself, “If there was an earthquake right now, I would drown in a mountain of porn.”  Anyway, I ended up finding a DVD box set of Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid for only 450yen and it’s really cool.  As we were walking through Den Den Town, Willy noticed a sign on one of the electronics stores.  It was one of the Duty-Free Shops which are supposed to be better at dealing with English-speaking customers than the rest.  Proudly proclaimed in bold letters on a huge sign it said, “EVERYDAY HIGH PRICE!”

We wandered around a lot and my feet started to get really tired.  It’s quite an adventure trying to squeeze through the aisles between browsing otaku and going up and down all those flights of stairs.  We wandered into Namba, another shopping district of Osaka, and explored the various aspects of the mall.  We hovered in an arcade for awhile, watching the youth of Japan totally rocking out on the machines.  It was amazing.  There were so many people walking around Namba, it was very overwhelming.  We went to a bento (boxed lunch) place and got tonkatsu (chicken cutlets).  We had some trouble making our order but eventually we got everything figured out.  We ordered from a curbside window and a girl came out and brought us some tea while we waited.  We were so tired we asked if we could come in and sit down and they said sure and then served us some more tea inside.  It was cool and refreshing.  I guess I didn’t make myself clear that we’d hoped to eat inside too and they brought us our bentos ready to go so we had to get up and leave and try to find a place to eat.  It’s really not that easy to find a place to relax out of the way of everyone.  Eventually we found a landscape feature on an intersection where there were some walls with grasses and trees inside and we sat down there and ate.  It’s also really hard to find garbage cans in Japan!  We eventually found one outside the 7-11.

I love riding the Limited Express train.  It’s so fast and the seats are comfortable.  That is, I’m sure the seats would be comfortable if it wasn’t full and I had to stand the whole time.  Anyway, it’s fast. I’m too tall to see anything out the windows when I’m standing though.  We passed Hirakata Park and it looks pretty cool.  It’s an amusement park with rollercoasters and other rides as well as a water park.  The water park sounded particularly appealing because of how hot it is here.  I think I’d like to go someday.  Maybe I’ll take a cute Japanese girl…  I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before but Japan is full of beautiful women!  Seriously, everywhere I look.  Crazy.

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