Osaka observations

Three days into our time in Osaka, and I’ve noticed the following about life here:

Life moves at a much faster pace than in Kyoto. It’s a bigger, brasher city and has a real no-sensense feel about it. People are still incredibly friendly – this is Japan, after all – but it’s all go, all the time. I’m viewing it as a warm up for Tokyo tomorrow.

Cyclists can apparently do as they please. Seriously. For a country that seems to pride itself on following all kinds of complex rules, Osaka’s cyclists buck the trend and take their bikes wherever they like, whenever they like. “No cycling” signs are ignored, pedestrians are viewed as moving targets and the pavement is their playground. Be warned.

The zoo here is just sad and dilapidated. I’d give it a wide berth if you plan to visit Osaka. It’s what I imagine a zoo would like be in a Soviet republic in about 1960. The animals looked miserable and were kept in enclosures just too small to be humane. It was a definite downer and we left early…

People here have no problems with staring at you if you look different. And we, being white Europeans, definitely look different. It’s bad enough on the subway, where other passengers will look you up and down, but today I spent three hours in an onsen¬†relaxing in various spas and pools and saunas. People were shameless in staring at me. It was a little unnerving. I don’t remember it being this way in Tokyo last year…

(Re. the onsen, I choose to take it as a compliment, since it’s a no-clothing environment. I assume they were just blown away by my buff physique. More on that in another post).

Our Osaka favourite has been Dotonbori. The neon, the Japanese hipsters, the food – it’s just a great night out. Despite all the staring and pointing. Our hotel is just one subway station away, so we’ve come here three evenings in a row and enjoyed somethig different each time.

If you ever visit from abroad, I can definitely recommend the Osaka “Amazing Pass. You can get one and two-day versions and it gets you free subway travel and entry into a host of top attractions.

Finally, I’m ashamed to admit that I’m now addicted to Starbucks’ Matcha Frappucino. I’m about 20 years too old to love a Starbucks drink this much. I’ll be bringing some matcha tea home with me to experiment with making my own in my Nutri-Bullet.

Onwards, to Tokyo!

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