Saturday, April 19, 2008

Tako-Yaki Town - Fear

“You know you are going to have to eat it today,” Jenny said.

“What?” I replied tentatively. “No, I don't think so.”

“Oh no, we are on our way to Osaka, tako-yaki town. We're eating it. C'mon give it just one more try,” She said.

So this was how it was going to end. Now the big trip to the big city would be like walking the Green Mile. I felt like a condemned man on his way to the gallows. You see I do not like Tako-yaki. I know that it makes me weird and strange, but I just do not like the mushy, soggy little balls filled with chunks of boiled octopus. But here was the official announcement that at some point during the day we would be giving them one more try. Great, now I have that to look forward to.

We figured that we should make good use of our train pass that would only be good for a few more days. We buy a pass called the Ju-Hachi Kippu that allows us unlimited travel on JR trains for five days. We buy one pass and share it between the two of us. It is a real economical way to go long distances for a small amount of money. We like to travel a bit farther from home during this time when possible. This time we figured that we would head down to Osaka and enjoy the sights and sounds of the big city.

The trip takes about two hours but it is a straight shot from Omihachiman. We got off the train in Osaka station and transferred to the subway and headed down to the southern section of the city, which is where all the action is. The city of Osaka is huge. It ranks as the second largest city in all of Japan, and we had not spent much time here. We came down for an afternoon last winter, but it was a cold day and Jenny was fighting off a cold so we did not explore much. We also came last spring to visit the city's aquarium. The aquarium was really cool and we all enjoyed it especially seeing the giant whale shark. Logan liked it so much that he wanted to go back and he was very disappointed that we were not going to. That disappointment was short lived however.

He soon found a place to take his mind off of it and turn his frown upside down. We can sum it all up with one word: Tomica. While, most three year olds are busy playing with their Matchbox cars and Hot Wheels; Logan has his Tomica cars. And here in the underground mall near the Namba station was a Tomica Store. Logan headed on in to find and play with the sample cars and toys. He found several things that he declared, “Before we leave Japan and go back to America I want to get this.” He would have been content to hang out in the store all day. He decided that now Osaka is his favorite city in Japan supplanting the former favorite of Kusatsu.

We left the underground mall because we came to see the city and that just would not be possible to do while walking below the streets. We exited onto the city streets that were teeming with people. It seems that it is always busy in the big city. We looked around and up. The city stretched around us. There is nothing like being in a big city. Now I will admit that I am not a big city kind of guy, but it is fun to visit one. Here we were smack dab in the middle of one of the biggest and most bustling metropolises in the world.

We walked along the streets heading home, or as close as we could get. America Town, or Ame-Mura as it is called, is the neighborhood where all the members of the young hip crowd congregate. We walked through the streets turning this way and that. We wandered aimlessly and without a purpose. We knew that if we headed a general direction we would find where we wanted to be and something new and exciting.

We found our way to Ame-Mura and had a fun time wandering around and looking at all the colorful characters. Japanese hipsters are very fun to watch. Bright colors, wild hair, and crazy fashions make for a visual treat. It was humorous to see things that were perceived to be American that were almost caricatureish in reality. We looked into shops, but as none of them were Tomica car stores they just did not make the grade. The Hello Kitty shop did come close though. We found a whole store filled with that delightful little cat. All of our Hello Kitty shopping needs satisfied under one roof.

We stopped off for lunch at a great hamburger restaurant called Freshness Burger. Jenny had a Cheeseburger piled high with leafy lettuce, red ripe tomatoes, tangy onions and best of all real cheese. Logan opted for a plain burger of which he ate the fries. I had the WW burger, which is an artery clogger that comprised of two thick patties, lots of cheese and everything else. It was basically Jenny's burger doubled. We all stuffed ourselves silly, well Jenny and I did. I am not so sure about Logan, how full can you get only eating the french fries?

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