The majority of this page will be
related to a 2-day trip to Osaka from August 7-8 but there's some
random musings for your consideration as well.
First, while it's been seriously hot and humid here
there were some pretty severe thunderstorms in early August, which
happened in the afterrnoon for several consecutive days. Here's a
view of the ominous sky from the office, looking toward Tokyo Bay.
A store sign: Big Apple, The Dream is filled in the Big Apple.
My friend Jim arrived on Tuesday August 6 to re-visit Tokyo and crash
on the floor. He arranged to rent a local cell phone, but rather than
giving him the NTT Docomo phone he wanted, they gave him this wimpy
instead. He later called them up and got his less effeminate
but had to deal with some abuse on this for a couple of days.
On the 7th I went with some coworkers (and Jim tagged along) to visit
Osaka to review some companies. I'd been to Kyoto
before, but not Osaka
. We took the
runs through Kyoto en route to Osaka. Along the way we went through
some farming areas, and I note both the tall power lines and that it's
getting more mountainous.
Believe this is on the outskirts of the city.
We arrived at Shin-Osaka
, which is not "Osaka Station". This is the
new station which was purpose-built for the Shinkansen traffic, since
two lines terminate here. Osaka Station is a few miles away.
A view of a regular commercial office area a few blocks from
Shin-Osaka. We had a confused taxi driver get us within a few
blocks of our destination before giving up, but unfortunately that was
almost further than we were from the station - we walked back after our
meeting. Jim had a similarly confused driver for his
journey. Bring a map to Osaka, but it's no guarantee of getting
where you want to go. (The next day we had another taxi ride that
was fine, albeit
There's a major
here as well, and it was common to see
landing traffic overhead.
I've gotten very accustomed to using the rail system to get in and out
of cities and still find the network fascinating.
As evening fell I took a few more pictures of the city.
Here as well the red lights dot the tops of the buildings.
Here Jim has an unnatural attraction to the Asahi vending machine that
sells the tall boys.
We stayed at the Hotel Monterey La Soeur, which is the sister of
another Osaka hotel, the Hotel Monterey. Jim was first driven to that
hotel and dropped off, so we went and found him and brought him to the
right place. Good thing he had that girly phone. It was a
really nice place and had a nice view of the city. It also had an
interesting room element which we feature in this
video (20 Meg)
It occurred to me I hadn't seen many Japanese flags around so I took
this picture to at least get one.
The hotel is well situated near other commercial buildings, as well as
the Osaka-jo concert hall, which is next to Osaka Castle.
The view over Osaka-Jo to the castle.
We had the morning free so we went for breakfast and over to the
castle. Many many bicycles. Also many
many cicadas (600 KB)
They tell me Osaka is known as the water city - the rivers definitely
play a major role in the layout.
Jim got this Mets soda from a vending machine, and we are pretty sure
the design is strikingly similar to another Mets
we know about.
This poster was at the entrance to Osaka Castle. We think it means you
can't bring your pets in, and they are sad, but if so, why does the dog
have a bandaged leg? A translator would help us.
So now on to Osaka
, which was built starting around 1583, but the current
buildings are more recent than that, primarily because earlier ones
were lost to fire. Even if the buildings weren't original the
castle has an important history involving the unification
. We didn't have enough time to go inside but took
Here's Angry Alex reacting to Jim's bad picture-taking.
Here's Happy Alex when Jim takes it the way Alex wants.
Love the design and attention to detail. Note the top floor is
screened in - people were up there, and we assumed the screens were to
keep stuff from falling out, like people.
Some other interesting buildings in the area: this one has a large
round platform on it. It's west of Osaka Castle, and I looked at
it on Google Earth, which makes it look like a deep-space antenna, or
possibly a large helicopter landing pad. Hm.
We're guessing this building with all the dishes was a government
building of some sort.
Nearby is a facility for a local internet provider.
In this picture the main building has an elevator, and curiously that's
not a modern addition. OK, this particular elevator is modern,
but it had one of the earliest elevators in Japan, back in the 1800's.
The suite of lights to illuminate the castle appeared, to me, to recall
images of anti-aircraft batteries.
Something I didn't notice before, maybe this has been going on for quite a while
is the practice of sealing things like cabinets, manholes, doors, etc
to indicate if they have been tampered with.
Don't know if this Sapporo product has a celebrity
endorsement or not.
Even if not, the Suntory Coffee Boss is still the boss of them all.
They also appear to be getting real celebrity endorsements, or if not,
it's a very good Tommy Lee Jones look-alike.
And these were just a couple of interesting vending machine
There was a theater nearby which had this as the poster - it seemed
kinda creepy to us.
Finally, the habit of using cuddly animals for transit mascots
continues in Osaka, with the "angry platypus". He's not angry
here, but there were some other pictures in which he seemed to be
chastising people for not using their stored-value card. The same
logo is used in Kyoto.
Food-wise, you can find a note about a tan-tan variant I had in
Osaka. For our night in Osaka we ate at the IMP Building mall at
a Japanese restaurant, and had nabe
soup, which was one of the few things we could
recognize. It was thick noodles in a fish broth with shrimp
tempura and vegetables. Good but I'd have rather had some quality
sushi. On our return to Tokyo we ate at Royal Host
because we wanted a
sit-down, it was already late, and it was near the train. Jim had
a very tasty curry special while I felt like the macaroni and cheese,
which had shrimp in it.