“damn!”

9/19/11      20:57

I spent Sunday exploring some major sections of the city of Osaka with Marisa which turned into later shenanigans for Tina’s birthday celebration. Due to the breadth of our travails, this post should also serve as a good introduction to some of the most famous districts of the city.

As a prep, central Osaka is pretty easy to picture. For the purposes of this post, from north to south on Midosuji, one of the main thoroughfares, it goes [JR Osaka Station]  –  [Yodoyabashi]  –  [Shinsaibashi]  –  [Nanba]  –  [Nipponbashi].

淀屋橋   –   Yodoyabashi

The adventure begins at Yodoyabashi. Marisa and I got there around noonish so it was freakishly hot and we walked down Midosuji trying our best not to melt. Yodoyabashi is full of imposing buildings for insurance companies and banks which isn’t very fun. Basically, it was a very pretty tree-lined promenade filled with nothing to look at except cold corporate exteriors and this one guy who was giving out free samples of milk tea.

心斎橋   –   Shinsaibashi


Here’s where the fun starts. Shinsaibashi is a gigantic commercial district whose main draw its mile-and-a-half-long covered shopping arcade. On Midosuji, being illustrious and elitist as it is, are all the brand names that Marisa and I could never afford. However, one street east and you have everything you could ever think of, clothing-wise. It was just store after store punctuated by cafes and small restaurants selling all kinds of food: traditional Japanese and western pastries mostly. This sounds like a mall. You know what a mall is. It was like a huge outdoor mall, but the comparison does Shinsaibashi no justice. It really doesn’t.


– Book OffI’d like for you to meet a good friend of mine, Book Off. Book Off buys used manga, literature, CDs, DVDs, and video games from the Japanese populace and resells them at rock-bottom prices. As Grace said to me once, “the Japanese take such good care of their things,” [that buying used is essentially like buying new.] I’m hoping so. All the manga I’ve bought from there have been in excellent condition [and have also been under 200 yen.] The video games are spotless and dirt cheap. I got a copy of Genso Suikoden 2 for 500 yen. That game goes for 60 dollars in America because it’s so rare. I also bought a copy of Final Fantasy Tactics for shigs because I love that game so much.Also note, every manga store has an entire aisle next to the 少女 titles devoted to what is called the “boys’ love” genre. I guess there’s a sizable chunk of the Japanese populace that likes to read guy on guy stories. And the strange thing is that I don’t think the intended readership is the gay male demographic. I only ever see women from about 18-35 in that section. Anyway, I sort of raided their selection ::cough:: A section of that size would never fly in an American bookstore like Barnes and Noble or Borders. I just find that amazing.,

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道頓堀 / 難波 -   Dotonbori/Nanba

Once you walk out of Shinsaibashi’s covered market, you cross Dotonbori bridge into the district of the same name. The advertising here is ridiculous. It’s like Times Square on crack. Dotonbori is known as a hub for clubbing and bars as well as maintaining the mess-of-stores theme from Shinsaibashi.

Also, in Nanba, there’s a six-story arcade building called Taito Station. I went there on a mission I mentioned in a previous post to play 超ちゃぶ台返し and I was successful. Marisa took a better vid than I did so here’s her Youtube vlog post about Taito Station and my flippin’ table experience.

[Note: If I had the money, I would get into those online card game things. Putting things down on a lit board in front of you and watching your creatures come up on the screen and fight each other? Part of me is wondering why they haven’t done this with Magic: the Gathering yet. The other part of me is glad they haven’t because I’d be broke in a month.]

And on the topic of being broke, I definitely spent too much money in Shinsaibashi/Dotonbori. I have a feeling this is a commonly voiced sentiment.

日本橋   –   Nipponbashi   [Den-den Town]

Nipponbashi is Osaka’s answer to Akihabara in Tokyo. So it’s basically an otaku heaven. And by that I also mean probably a mecca for weeaboos studying in the Kansai area. Luckily I didn’t run into any on our trip there. Any form of electronic entertainment–figurines, manga, anime–basically anything with marketable characters is represented and sold in Nipponbashi. It’s sensory overload at its finest.

My interests in Japanese media run foremost with video games, followed by anime/manga. So I was instantly drawn in by stores still selling Super Famicom and PS1/PS2 games that I remembered playing growing up. This isn’t to say that I wasn’t drawn to the newer stuff like the Sony Playstation store which had a whole bunch of displays showing the newest games coming out. The two new Final Fantasy games’ graphics are out of this world. Just sayin’.

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同人誌 [doujinshi] (n.) fan-made comics that are sold in special doujinshi shops. The quality is top-notch and because the stuff isn’t technically canon, the authors have full control over their product. They bring characters together, steer stories in new directions, and basically fuel some branches of the fandom. Truth told, a lot of them are sexual in nature and when Marisa and I went into the back of this one store, everything turned flesh colored and it was sort of frightening. There were just disproportionately large  cartoon boobs everywhere. EVERYWHERE. And people just browsing casually. Mhm, lol.

Also, some lady had a parrot in her car. Yeah.

JR大阪駅 ・ 梅田   [JR Osaka Station / Umeda]

At this time, Tina and a group of our other friends had finished watching their show at Takarazuka and were headed to Osaka station and we had to go meet them there. Instead of taking the subway [because that costs money ._.], we walked all the way up Nipponbashi, through Nanba, past the glitzy stores on the fancy side of Shinsaibashi, all the way through boring Yodoyabashi, over the river [and through the woods] to Umeda whose northern end is crowned by JR Osaka Station. We were so. Tired. Like. I couldn’t feel my legs. Yeah. But the show must go on!

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Next to JR Osaka station is a mall called HEP which has seven floors [I think] and a random skinned whale hanging in the center of it all. Oh, there is also a FERRIS WHEEL on top of it all. Yeah. We did purikura on the top floor.

Purikura is just a photo booth where for a nominal fee [400 yen split among 7 people isn’t bad] you can have a picture of your friends with your eyes automatically enlarged and random stars and sparkles added at your discretion.

Also, HEP gets cool points because I went to the bathroom and they had Castlevania: Symphony of the Night music playing on the speakers.

After Purikura, we went to go to karaoke. For an hour. Due to time restraints, it would have been a 競争 [kyousou] (n.) race to get as drunk as possible on sissy drinks in a very short amount of time. However, the 競争 was supplemented [ironically enough] by a FamilyMart Convenience store purchase of some Japanese barley alcohol and a small bottle of Beefeater. I was going drink for drink with Tina and needless to say, things got really loud really quick and there was much fun to be had with the whole singing thing. I mean. They gave us tambourines. Come on. :P

Afterwards, most of the group parted ways leaving Tina, Marisa, and I to explore Osaka at night. The last train leaves at 11:00 PM and if you miss that one, you’re stuck there till the first trains come at 5:00 AM the following morning.

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We started off by finishing the rest of the gin. Maybe it was the instinct I learned in Spain to go drink by the river. [Memories of botellón on the Guadalquivir in Sevilla abound.] But we found 1) a quiet spot on the stairway in front of the Glico man where we wouldn’t bother anybody and 2) that Citrus Squash and gin go very very well together.

Our goal at the end of the night was to make our way back to Yodoybashi where we would take the train home. Ambling through the empty streets of Shinsaibashi trying to find a bar that didn’t charge 304958209503459 yen for a single drink was futile. Instead, we settled on maintaining a steady buzz fueled by convenience store Chuuhais and cheap onigiri.

We laughed. We cried. We fell asleep in a McDonalds.

And the employees are nice enough to give you a gentle shake and tell you politely that falling asleep in a McDonalds is something one ought not to do.

The wandering wasn’t limited to trying to finding a nice, out of the way bar. Tina also needed to find a place to pee. PEOPLE HAVE NEEDS. I told her to go find a cardboard box. [HappybirthdayIloveyou!] [Marisa: “It’s her piss in a box!”] Luckily she held it. Speaking of cardboard boxes, the homeless people sleeping in Shinsaibashi had the great idea of constructing little forts out of the cardboard lying out there for a bit of privacy. The hobos had some sense of dignity. But the thing was, Tina had no sense of their dignity lol. She took pictures. :/

The night ended with sunrise over Osaka. It was sort of beautiful. And so was falling asleep once I got home.

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Comments
One Response to ““damn!””
  1. hiruhiru21 says:

    I love the top picture!! And I must find a BookOff >_>
    -Andrew

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