Osaka On My Mind

Thirst for the English language quenched in Osaka.
Sunday, November 20, 2005

Bullet train I arrived in Osaka by shinkansen, the famous Japanese bullet train, which I suppose was quite fast. I got frustrated quickly trying to navigate yet another station (Shin-Osaka) and realizing that I needed to take a subway to get to the hotel. There seemed to be even fewer English signs than in Tokyo. I stopped at the tourist help desk for help, but I still needed to ask a couple more people for help doing things like purchasing subway tickets. I suppose I should feel proud of myself for having done as much as I have in such a foreign land, but instead I am just frustrated.

Having started in the wrong direction, I pulled a u-turn and headed towards the hotel. Once there, I checked email in the hotel lobby, which made me at least feel like I was in civilization again. It was damn near impossible to find internet access in Tokyo. I took a nice hot shower in my tiny bathroom and felt much better. My hotel seems to be full of business people, so it has some life in it. That is in sharp contrast to the ryokan in Tokyo. It was maddeningly quiet, despite its reputation for having the “most convivial lounge” in Tokyo. Maybe I should look up the word “convivial”.

So here I am, sitting in the Kirin brew pub, having a small glass of stout, which tastes really nice. There is a group of four British travellers behind me at a table, quenching my thirst for the sounds of the English language. The last few days I have found myself watching out for people who look like Westerners and hoping to just hear some English. I walked behind a couple of American kids last night in Roppongi, listening to them on their quest to find the Hard Rock Café.

Tako-yaki The plan for tonight is to get some okonomiyaki at a place called Chibo, which was recommended by the guidebook as well as a former coworker. On the way past it, I noticed two outdoor stands both with huge lines. One sold fried octopus balls and the other selling yakisoba. Maybe I’ll have a meal of that tonight and save the okonomiyaki to have with Jen tomorrow. I have til the end of this beer to decide.