There are so many things that I admire about the Japanese people in general. When Gervin, during our long night walk in Shinjuku and halfway through my Japanagon adventures, asked me what I think of the Japanese people... my top of mind was that they are so sooo polite. The night when I got back from the trip, the family had dinner in Rockwell and we were a bit early. I entered different stores and suddenly missed the Japanese people's automatic "irrashaimase!" or "ohayō gozaimasu!" greetings whenever I enter or exit a boutique, or pay for something. Nakaka-LSS a!
Dotonbori, our area in Osaka during our first 6 nights in Japan.
Also, they always bow along with acknowledging your presence, whether you bought just 1 postcard from their store, or even just visited and looked around! They bow rather very distinctly, low and with backs straight, hands at the side or clasped together in the lap, and eyes down. When our bus going to the airport left the lobby, I saw our lone lady attendant who helped us with our transfers, suddenly bowed down to us to our bus, whether we, the pasahero tourists, saw her pa or not.
They are also very time conscious, always on the dot. Even their trains and buses have schedules and are on time, you have to RUN so as not to miss your ride and wait for a few minutes to an hour again for the next. Grabe ang tinakbo ko dito sa Japan! May (invisible) lanes din ang escalators nila, for those who are taking their time asa left, while right lane for those na nagmamadali and running for their life este scheds. Iba iba pa ata by city, but most of the time my arrow naman sa sahig, hehe.
I also noticed how Japanese will go out of their way to help you. When I commuted to Ghibli Museum (my first time to commute alone in Japan without my Ate), I never ran out of people whom I can ask for directions - whether police or civilians. A nice young couple even walked with me just to show the right park area going to the museum. Even when they struggle for English, a teenager will help you through pointing or through phone photos or body language. May time though that a small magazine / drinks / candies store owner at the MRT station can't understand that I needed advil, aspirin, or any medicine for my headache, and as I was leaving empty-handed, the old lady whimpered "Serry". :p
Bikes everywhere, people go places through their bikes! Minsan makakarinig ako ng bell busina while walking sa wrong lane of the sidewalk, hehe.
Anyway, ang haba na pala ng observations ko hoho, so on to my Day 1 kwentos!
The weather then was super cold, a good transition to spring's super sakto and perfect weather by April. But it was March pa noon (March 22), so the light jackets I brought for the trip were not enough! :p
River area ang pinaka coldest.
Whenever I ask Ate, ano nga uli name ng lugar na to? Natatawa ako palagi sa sagot dahil sobrang basic at di madaling makalimutan. Dotonbori Bridge yan and Dotonbori Canal.
This is one of Osaka's icon - and where a lot of people stop to take pictures - the Glico. It displays an image of a runner crossing the finish line, and in fairness talaga sa brand na ito, ang dami talagang nagpapa picture sa billboard! The company is known for the Glico caramel candy and Pocky snack.
Ate and I decided to have our first breakfast at the Honolulu Coffee, where they serve Cherry Blossom Strawberry drink. Lahat ng stores and restaurants noon may kanya kanyang release ng sakura collection paandar.
My coffee + overpriced pancakes, hehe:
I like the set-up of the place though, wood-everything, and overlooking the canal and billboards of a then-quiet Osaka morning.
It was a temple run day, and we started with the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine. We passed by the Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai (checks kodigo if correct spelling, haha). This is one of Osaka's oldest shopping streets. Most of the shops were closed pa when we got there, though, so we aimlessly strolled nalang while looking for the temple.
The Ōsaka Tenmangū Shrine, a Shinto Shrine (an important building used for safekeeping of sacred objects and not for worship) where they celebrate the Tenjin Festival every year.
We saw a lot of these papers or wood planks area during our whole Japan Temple Running. These are Omikuji, which are fortune telling paper slips na may predictions from daikichi (great good luck) or daikyo (great bad luck). Tying the paper will either make the good fortune will come true or reverse the bad luck.
Another interesting detail from our shrine visits are the Purification Trough, often found near the entrance. These bamboo water fountains are used to clean the hands and mouth before entering the main hall.
Early sightings of cherry blossoms:
Our next stop was at the Osaka Castle. We got lost going to another shrine, but for this sure na sure kami coz we followed these young boys na mukang heading for the park, hehe.
The area before the Osaka Castle (Osaka Castle Park, hehe) is HUGE and beautiful! I learned that it is the 2nd largest park in the city. Ate was ranting the whole time na sayang wala pang blossoms. Every lined trees are cherries, and we can imagine how beautiful the place is lalo na pag may pinks and whites - this is in fact one of the most popular hanami spot (picnic while flower watching) in Osaka during spring.
But sakura or no sakura, I love the Osaka Castle Park. It is clean, air is fresh, and people are chill and relaxed.
People playing music:
Locals riding their bikes, staring while seated on benches, or walking their cute furry friends:
Young lovers, old lovers:
Families and barkadas having picnics, na gusto ko na talaga i-crash and maki-upo, hehehe.
Along the way, we saw several trees with few blooms na.. But pausbong palang. They are beautiful.
Selfie with the Osaka Castle, one of Japan's most famous landmarks that played an important role in Japan's unification during the 16th century. The line going inside was super long, so we decided to just hangout outside and enjoy the view. I sat for a good few minutes to rest my feet, while "seizing the summer", lol.
Late lunch! I wasn't able to get the place's English name, but this logo is pretty popular and I saw other branches everywhere. I had my first taste of authentic tamago and buttered potatoes. So so gooood!
One funny side trip was at the seedy Shinsekai alleys, with a reputation of being Osaka's most dangerous area. This neighborhood was created at 1912 with Paris as its model for the northern area, and New York for its southern half. Shinsekai is a colorful mish mash of restaurants, mahjong clubs, cinemas, cheap stores, and pachinko (arcades and gambling) parlor. Homeless, prostitutes, and a concentration of Osaka's transvestite community are known to dwell the area.
The centerpiece of Shinsekai: the Tsutenkaku Tower, or "the tower reaching to heaven".
On the way to Osaka Aquarium, we stopped over muna at the Milky shop and bought a canned drink.
Selfie with my cute Milky can and the Temposan Ferris Wheel. Ang cool nito, the wheel is said to show the next day's weather forecast through its lights: orange for a sunny day, green for cloudy, and blue lights for rain!
One of my favorite activities for our first full day in Japan was at the largest aquarium in the world: the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan!
The place is HUGE but hindi ka mawawala because it follows a path from the entrance going to each exhibit including the Japanese Forests, Antartica, the Pacific Ocean, and the Ecuadorian Jungle to name a few, and then heading straight the exit. They have a lot of interesting creatures that you'll not see in other zoos, like rays, sloths, penguins, and a whale shark! Most of the time naaawa lang kami ni Ate sa mga animals, nag punta pa e noh, haha!
An interesting part of the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan features a huge open pool where people can feel a ray or a baby shark! Ang interactive! In these photos, you can see where people have to wash their hands first before the activity, tapos directions on where you can touch the animals para safe kayong dalawa sa isa't isa, hehe. Ang rough ng shark, and slimy ng rays - tuwang tuwa and mas fearless ang mga kids sa pag hawak!
An entertainer just outside Kaiyukan. Funny naman siya, hehe.
We ended the day around our neighborhood in Dotonbori, where we also looked for a dinner-an and checked out the shops like Forever 21, GU, and H&M. In most of our dining experience in Osaka, we spent roughly mga tig P350 to P500 lang per head. Super possible naman mag tipid coz ang daming options (hindi nadin masama ang cheap P100-200 convenience store foods!).
The beautiful Dotonbori Canal at night, and of course Glico stood out as usual. :) It was super cold, but I looked up at the neon billboards feeling so grateful and so much alive. I was just happy to be there.
To be continued.
Read more of my posts for: Japan 2015.