Osaka is truly a beautiful city. Plenty of lights and things happening, the waterways on the dotonbori.. I really fell in love during my time there. On Sunday morning I woke up and took advantage of the bathhouse in my hotel. It was small but it had an awesome shower and a nice warm tub. Now some people would be nervous about this as it was an open concept bath house (all naked) but since I have come to love jimjilbangs, and in turn accept my own naked butt, I was fine! I used the towels they gave me and enjoyed my time in the morning. I made it my goal to leave before 10 because that’s when Daimaru opened and check out was at 10 anyways. I got ready and left my little capsule at 9:30, leaving my luggage in the locker for the day. My hotel was a short walk to Daimaru Shinsaibashi, which is a huge fancy department store. I was going to the Cardcaptor Sakura art exhibition, which was being held in honor of Nakayoshi’s 60th anniversary. I waited in the doors for 10am, when the store would open.
When the store finally did open, I ran to the elevator where a smiling attendant waited for me. Everyone piled on and she pressed the buttons and announced all the floors. It was so interesting to see an elevator attendant but Daimaru was very fancy so I wasn’t that surprised. When I made my way to the 14th floor, the event hall, I was quickly turned away! I didn’t realize I was supposed to get a white ticket that would put me into the system… I had to head back down to the first floor, get a ticket, and then come back when my number was up. When I was up there, it was at #421… 421 people had already gotten white tickets for the day! I had no idea how popular this event was going to be and the huge lines really shocked me. I made my way downstairs, grabbed a white ticket that was numbered 721. I figured I had some time to kill so I made my way to the closest Daiso.
I had yet to go to a Daiso in Japan, and it is one of my favourite stores in Korea so I was very excited. I found a small Daiso located in a smaller department store (which I’m forgetting the name of… ugh). It was calm, quiet and nearly empty. A luxury in the busy Shinsaibashi area. I grabbed some lashes, a super cute hair bow, some Sailor Jupiter pork tortilla chips, and some other snacks. I was so happy to have found something Sailor Moonish, and Sailor Jupiter had always been a favourite (because Brunettes just rule.). (as I’m writing this I realize I’m wearing Sailor Jupiter socks). I had made my first trip to Daiso a quick one because I was excited to get back to the event, deciding that I’d wait upstairs rather than miss out on the event. I made a quick stop into a pharmacy just before though and I grabbed two amazing Canmake flower blushes and a Heroine Make eyebrow pencil! I forgot my brow pencil at home, I was quite sad!.
With my purchases stowed away in my purse, I made my way back up to the 14th floor of Daimaru. I was surprised to see the line had died down and I was able to get my ticket and get inside rather quickly. By now the number of tickets handed out was well over 1000. So many magical girl fans out there! I wasn’t able to take any pictures inside the event but it was amazing to see the art and growth of CLAMP. They are incredibly talented artists and in my anime/manga fan days I loved all their work. The art event was jam -packed with people, looking at all the drawings in detail. They also had the opening video for the animation (Catch you, Catch me) playing in the anime section. The show was one of the first animes I was really into so it was very nostalgic to me. It started off my day so nicely. I purchased a few things in the VERY hectic shopping area: two blind boxed badges, a small figure, a ring, a kero-chan scarf thing, and a phone charm. I felt rather happy with my blind boxed items and I enjoyed opening them on the roof of Daimaru. I took some shots of the city and then headed back into Shinsaibashi for some more shopping!
A funny thing happened after I went to the art event. I had decided to spend 1000Y (about $10) at an arcade. I knew it was semi-pointless to try to win things from the UFO catchers, but I decided to anyways. After spending 400Y trying to win a Gudetama (new Sanrio character, the lazy egg) I went to pull out the last 100Y coin and my 500Y coin FLEW out of my pocket and under a nearby UFO machine. I didn’t know what to do… Then I saw a woman and her daughter watching me attempt to get my coin from under the machine. Part of me was saying “fuck it, it’s too far, I can’t reach it with my stubby arms” but then the other part of me was saying “THAT’S $5 WHAT ARE YOU DOING GET IT!!!” so I kind of mimed what happened, and the lady helped me! She got a worker to retrieve the coin from under the machine. I decided that I now had a lucky coin so I used one more 100Y (after breaking the 500Y) to get the Gudetama. AND I GOT IT. SO thank you, kind soul, for helping a lost gaijin out in her time of need (of lazy egg).
I hit up all the pharmacies and stores on the way. Looking at cute clothes and shoes and all the cosmetics I could find. I made sure to stop by the Disney store and I grabbed 5 tsumtsums: Anna, Elsa, Woody, Buzz, and an Alien. I was dying in the store because everything was adorable. They also had some stunning jewelry made for women. Japan also has Disney stores exclusively market towards the older woman, who grew up with Disney. In my next trip to Japan, which will probably be to Fukuoka, I want to go see one! After I was completely happy with my purchases, I decided to find some lunch. I settled on a quiet ramen shop, ordering a pork ramen with soy sauce base. I also opted for an egg in it. I enjoyed the ramen a lot and the shop was so nice and quiet. After lunch, I made my way back to my capsule to drop off my stuff and then I set off on my next adventure.
I purchased a weekend subway pass for 600Y which allowed me to ride all the lines of the subway and maybe the buses (but I didn’t try to take a bus.). My first stop was Osaka castle. When I got to the exit, I looked out excitedly. There were some cherry blossoms already in bloom and there was the castle! This castle is beautiful, I mean it, really beautiful! I could see it from the subway stop and I just got more and more excited as I walked towards it. I had to stop before actually heading up to the castle to wander the park area around it. There were so many people out enjoying the beautiful day: riding bikes and eating food. I took some amazing pictures of the flowers and just sat for a while enjoying some hanami time. Hanami is flower viewing: people just go to parks and look at the flowers with friends. Cherry blossoms are truly beautiful and I’m glad I got to see some in Japan, even if it was just the beginning of the season.
After a while, I decided to make my way across the moat into Osaka castle’s main area. I was stopped by a group, which I assume were a group of Japanese students doing a scavenger hunt. They asked me a few questions, we took a picture, and I was on my way.
Everyone I talked to in Japan was very friendly and welcoming. I even had a nice man take a picture for me with the Osaka castle in the background. He seemed to love helping people because he took several before and after me, of his own volition. He stood in the same spot for a while offering to help anyone struggling to take a picture. When I made it up to the main castle grounds(Maybe like 15 minutes of a walk from the subway exit), I was so happy. There were people everywhere, taking pictures and going into the castle. I opted to do some people watching on the top of the castle wall and I looked out into the city. Osaka truly is a beautiful place.
I didn’t end up going into the castle (the line was too long and I was enjoying my time outside) but one day I’ll go back, maybe! I made a few purchases in the gift shops, explored and snapped some more photos before heading off to the next place on my list: the Pokemon center! I hopped on the subway and made my way to Umeda. Umeda Daimaru’s 13th floor is the home of the pokemon center! (As I’m writing this now I’m realizing I went to two Daimarus…). There were SO many different pokemon things. I loved looking at everything and after making my purchases, I wandered a few floors of the store before I got a snack at Starbucks – Sakura chiffon cake (WITH THE NASTIEST PICKLED SAKURA FLOWER ON TIME BARF) and a Honey almond milk frappucino. I also had a cute little sparrow share my cake with me, he was quite the vocal little bird though. After, I was quite tired and I had walked well over 20,000 steps that day so I made my way back to my hotel.
I love how close my capsule hotel was to everything, so after charging up my batteries again, I made my way back to the dotonbori. Some might think you get sick of looking at the same things but really, the dotonbori was full of different people every night. I enjoyed my solitude people watching. I also went to a bigger Daiso, stocked up on gifts for people and just enjoyed the night. I played around in an arcade and I also just wandered the canal area. After satisfyingly spending my last bit of yen, I went to McDonalds to try some of the local fare. I know it seems ridiculous to go to McDonalds in Japan but I did get something only available there: the Loco Moco burger. A burger with an egg patty. It was quite good and filled me up for the night.
The next morning, I was packed and ready to leave just after 7:30, and then I walked STRAIGHT DOWN THE MAIN STREET AND GOT TO NAMBA STATION. This was both exciting and frustrating because I was so so so lost when I first got to Osaka. Turns out the place I needed was just down the street from me… Sigh. I snoozed on the train back to Kansai airport, dropped my wifi egg off, and then got to my gate. I stocked up on weird kitkats at the airport (as well I got some at Donki, I love finding crazy flavours!) and I also got the most delicious cookies. Moringa Bake cookies, I will stock up on you next time I go to Japan. I was semi-rushed getting back to Busan because my flight was delayed a bit for turbulence. I made it through security and got my bag just after 12:45, which got me home at 1:30 in time for work at 2pm.. I feel lucky to live in a country where I can go to Japan on a weekend because I know not many people have that luxury.
Anyways, Osaka was wonderful and now I’m going to end this with some final thoughts on solo travel. This was one of my first big trips on my own 100%. When I go to Seoul by myself, I always have the chance of meeting up with friends from summer school, or bringing a friend from Busan. The only person I know personally in Japan right now is in Kyoto and she is busy with work! I was completely fine doing this trip on my own. I was also terrified but I was never scared in Osaka, not for my own safety. If you’re considering solo travel, do it! It doesn’t have to be lonely, you can find and meet new people. I take each trip as a chance to learn something about myself, you should too.
And with that, there’s my extra long post about my weekend in Osaka. I don’t know when I’ll return to Osaka again, but it’s definitely an option. I’m looking forward to returning to Japan (possibly soon.) and collecting more kitkats and memories.
Until next time,