大坂 (Osaka)

こんばんわ (Good Evening!)

Hello again, family and friends and everyone in between!

I know it hasn’t been all that long since my last post, but I felt the need to keep all of y’all updated before I ship off to prison camp for three days! Okay, so it’s not really prison camp, but it may as well be. Three days in 田舎 (countryside) 兵庫県 (Hyogo Prefecture-sorry guys, trying to practice some kanji over here) with no air conditioning, four people per room, communal baths (at least the girls’ dorm has dividers between the showers? The boys’ one doesn’t) and a 10:00 p.m. CURFEW. That’s right. Grown adults with a curfew. Ha. We get the evenings free but there is LITERALLY NOTHING EXCEPT THE TRAINING FACILITY IN THE TOWN!!!

Moving on…

It’s been a good first few weeks in Japan! Finally feel all set up in the apartment, minus curtains and a sofa bed which will be purchased as soon as I get paid (screw you, floor-I will never sleep on you again in my own house!). I also got some decorations to make the place feel a little more homey. And my teachers that I’ll be working with will finally be back when I come back from prison camp, so no more desk warming!!! I get to lesson plan!!! Oh happy day!!!

We had a holiday on Thursday for “Mountain Day,” which is a new holiday that just got started this year. Apparently whoever does calendar stuff looked at the calendar and said, “Huh. There are no official holidays in August but there are in every other month. We should fix that.” And so they did. Mountain Day is basically (paraphrasing here) a holiday made so people can go out and enjoy the natural beauty of all the many mountains here in Japan. Some people did that. I was not one of those people.

I instead, along with my trusty gang of friends, also took Wednesday and Friday off using my vacation days and we went to Osaka on Thursday! I didn’t expect to hit up Osaka so soon after getting to Japan, but it was such a blast! It only takes about an hour from my house, when all is said and done, to get to Osaka. It’s such a huge city! I thought Kobe was big, but it kind of puts Kobe to shame! Here are some views from a very large red Ferris wheel and from the sky deck/observatory thingy in Osaka:

Hope you enjoy the view! We hit up the sky deck thing at sunset so we got a really gorgeous view. The Ferris Wheel was super fun, too! It was actually our first random stop of the day when we got to Osaka! Gosh it sure did move slow but it was worth the awesome view when we got to the top! Totally worth the 500 yen. If you don’t understand Japanese currency that’s basically five dollars.

Additional stops of the day included, in order: looking at a random whale statue suspended from the ceiling in the first building we went into from the station, getting Starbucks, finding a store called Animate that sells all sorts of nerd paradise anime merchandise, hunting down a store called Neko Mart, which is exactly as it sounds-a store dedicated entirely to selling cat-themed goodies. From there, we made a pit stop at a random takoyaki (fried octopus-I did not partake) stand, made our way to the BEAUTIFUL Osaka Castle and got some matcha ice cream, and finally went to the Observatory. Then after one member of our group sadly had to go home early, we got some lovely dinner at a yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant (I had vegetables and noodle salad instead).

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The giant whale statue-thing
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Channeling my inner Harry Potter with these nifty “fashion glasses.” Because people wear fashion glasses in Japan. It’s a thing. Don’t question it.
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Some fancily decked out anime gentlemen at Animate.
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Neko Mart!!! (A.K.A. Erin’s dream land)
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Still not really sure what this was about…
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Glanced down an alleyway and behold! Kitty be chillin’. Like a gangster. He’s a tough kitty. He don’t need no fancy plush bed. He can hang out in the pipes. Because why not?
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So decorative and lovely.
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Amazing view from the park outside of Osaka Castle.
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Cool old dude?
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I am obsessed with shrine gates.
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I actually don’t remember the name of this shrine, but it was outside of Osaka Castle.
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A tiny random shrine.
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THE CASTLE!!!!
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Group selfie!
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View from the bottom of the observatory. See those escalators going criss-cross across the top? WE WENT ON THOSE. JUST ESCALATOR SUSPENDING YOU IN MIDAIR.
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Beautiful Osaka Sunset!
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More group selfies!
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I will never get a highball again as long as I live.
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Yakiniku!

The trip was super fun, but left my wallet hurting a bit. I have SUCH GOOD money management. Thanks for that, Japan. Hopefully once the honeymoon phase wears off a bit (if it ever does) I’ll chill out with the whole buying stuff thing. My loot for the day: Two tiny posters and a My Hero Academia wall scroll poster from Animate, two sets of chopsticks, a goofy cat keyring, and a Hanshin Tigers wristband from Neko Mart, another set of chopsticks (can never have enough) and a keychain from Osaka castle,  and a cell phone charm and coaster from the observatory gift shop. Yes, that keychain is of a cat chilling in a bowl of fruit and ice cream.

My favorite purchase of the day, however, is something that I’m just calling a shrine book because I don’t know what it’s actually called. My friend found out about them first and told me about them. Basically, they’re these beautiful books that you can buy from a shrine and that you take with you to other shrines. You bring your book with you each time you visit a shrine, and for 300 yen, they will write and stamp the book with the date and location of the shrine you visited. It’s a cheap memento of all of the cool places you’ve visited in Japan!

That concludes the Osaka trip adventures! But, for your enjoyment, please feast your eyes upon these exclusive photos of Rilakkuma taken at an event here in Kobe today.

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Sitting seiza style
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Enjoying some lovely beach time!
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Watching the hanabi (fireworks) while wearing yukata!
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I feel ya’, Rilakkuma. I mean we do live in the fiery armpit of hell.
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Your breathing looks more like awkward sit-ups, Rilakkuma.
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A tour of the seasons! First summer (natsu),now fall (aki) is up next!
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Rilakkuma enjoying the onsen!
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I don’t have the picture with me, but my friends and I joined Rilakkuma in the Lion Dance.
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Winter (fuyu), my favorite season, is up next! So jealous, Rilakkuma! How I want a kotatsu!
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Hanging out on a snowy afternoon with Rilakkuma and friends!
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Spring (haru) is here! Enjoying some food at the sakura hanami! (cherry blossom flower viewing)
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Rilakkuma and Korilakkuma enjoying children’s day on May 5th!
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Ah, the hinamatsuri! (Doll Festival)
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Now, I’m not nearly as cool as Rilakkuma and friends, but let’s top off the evening with a photo of me pretending to ring a bell at a shrine.

That’s it for now, good people! Tomorrow evening, I’m going to the amazing city of Nara for a lantern festival, but mostly to feed the deer. DEER!!! It’s been my dream to feed the deer at Nara Park forever.

Good night everyone, and until next time!

またね!

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