Next day, I set off to check out “Spa World” – this colossal labrinth/spa theme-park of hot baths from around the world. The queues were very long because it was sunday, so I decided to have a wander around the city instead. There seemed to be a lot of Americans in Osaka, which I found offputting, sory of ruined the buzz of being in Japan. Headed back to the ghetto for a more authentic taste of Osaka. Got some soba at a stand-up restaurant and then called it a day.
Woke up early to catch a train. On the way I discovered *garlic* flavoured cheese strings. My life is complete.
Bought a cheapo railpass that only lets you go on local trains (it’s called the Seishun Juhatchi Kippu). I took the train to Himeji which took hours on the local trains from Hiroshima… Himeji is famous for its castle. Apparently it’s the best castle in Japan. But it was being renovated so they built a big box around it to facilitate the the works.
So you can’t get an actual view of it. You can go in the box and see the outside of the building up close, but you can’t go inside. the view from the top of the box was amazing though. It felt like I was looking out of a medieval sky-scraper (or whatever 1600’s is)
Much more exciting was the princess’ house, still within the castle’s moat. It was the interior that was incredible. You have to go in barefoot, and the floor is made from ancient polished cedar. It was very serene and the smell of the wood almost made it feel like you were in a forest. I was considering hiding in a cupboard until it was closed and I could stay the night but my senses returned to me just in time.
Got on the train to Osaka where I’d booked a super cheap hotel in a particularly grimy but central part of town.
I got out of the metro to the sound of live jazz coming out of a street-side Oden restaurant with loads of people standing outside it watching the band, including a few hobos which I think Osaka should be famous for (the hobos, I mean). That’s how you know your in Osaka. There’s a lot of hobos (and loud Japanese people.)
Found dinner at a makeshift ramen restaurant outside a pachinko parlour. Post apocalyptic shanty town. Made friends with some troublemakers who were causing a racket on the table next to me.
My hotel room looked like it hadn’t been decorated (or even cleaned,) since the 60’s. Years of tobacco smoke stained the walls, and a sound that I couldn’t distinguish between faulty air-con and the scurry of rats. The room was the same size as a double bed but slightly longer. It was also japanese style – so sleeping on a futon on the floor – kind of added to the crack den ambience of the place.