Archive for the ‘Umeda’ Category

Day Two

June 1, 2006

Okay, I'm finally here in my real apartment, and I have a reliable internet connection. So without further ado, day two:

On my second day here, a Friday, I knew that the first thing I had to do was go to the city office and register for my Alien Card. This is basically a card that all foreigners in Japan need to get. You need it to sign up for a bank account, or get a cell phone, basically you just need it. The office was closed on the weekends, and I needed it before my first day of training on Monday, so today had to be the day.

To take the subway to where I needed to be, a transfer was involved. I got to the first station and suddenly got very confused, and a little lost. I couldn’t really figure out where I needed to go. So I was standing there, looking at my little map, looking lost I guess, and this Japanese guy walked up to me and asked “Do you need help?” Now this guy didn’t work for the subway or anything like that, he was just a random Japanese guy who wanted to help. If you were looking lost in a subway station in North America, the best you could hope for is a hobo asking you for change. So that was nice.

After being helped by the friendly Japanese guy, I managed to find the subway I was supposed to take and get to where I needed to be. This is where things went south. Now the first thing I want to emphasize here is that this was NOT MY FAULT. I know, I’m not exactly Magellan, and I’ll pretty much get lost anywhere I go, but this time… the blame? Not on me. I had a map from Nova, describing how to get from the subway station to the city office. It was just a straight path from the station to the office; no turns, pretty simple. Now the map had absolutely no labels for street names, nothing to really tell you where you are other than a few significant landmarks. The most obvious one was a McDonalds, which the map indicated was about a sixth of the way to the office. So after about ten minutes I hit the McDonalds, and I’m thinking “wow This place is really far ” but I kept trekking on. After about forty minutes the street finally ended, and no city office. Now I’m starting to panic. I remembered seeing a cop directing traffic a few minutes back, and I decided to find him to see if he could give me directions.

As a credit to Nova, they at least did one thing right: on the top corner of the map, the address for the city office is written in Japanese. I pointed to it, and hoped the officer would realize I needed directions. He did, but unfortunately he didn’t speak any English. He tried his best to help me but he just ended up confusing me more. I wandered around a bit, found a guy standing at a bus stop and asked him (or pointed to the map, to be more accurate). He didn’t seem to know, but at that point a bus pulled up, and he asked the driver. The driver knew how to get there, and even better, was going to pass by it with his bus. So I hopped on and a few minutes later, I was finally there. At this point I noticed that there was a McDonalds across the street, but I thought nothing of it and I went in to take care of business. When I came back out it suddenly dawned on me: that was the same McDonalds I passed by at the beginning of the wild goose chase. And that’s the story of how I got completely screwed by Nova. Hopefully this isn’t a harbinger of things to come.

After that fiasco I thought it might be nice to explore a different area of Osaka, so I went to Umeda. It was raining, which kind of put a damper on things, but I wanted to at least eat something and walk around a bit. The first place I saw after walking out from the subway station was this gigantic department store:

 

It’s hard to really get a sense of scale from this picture but trust me when I say the place was HUGE. It advertised a “restaurant zone” on the eighth floor, which sounded pretty good to me.

I went up there and was disappointed to find that, while the place was quite enormous, it was all classy looking sit-down restaurants. Defeated, I left that store and walked around looking for a placed to eat. Shortly thereafter I found this place:

There was a picture of some pretty decent looking noodles posted near the door, and I wanted to go in, but I wasn’t sure what to do. It’s tough not speaking a word of the language of the country you’re in. I loitered around the entrance, and the lady inside waved me in. From this point it was easy; I pointed to what I wanted on the menu (there were pictures), and a few minutes later the waiter brought it along with the bill. Here’s a picture. Excuse the blurriness, I’m still trying to figure out how to take decent pictures with this camera:

That’s noodles, a bowl of plain rice, and some kind of soup. It was mostly just broth, but it was really good. That fried thing on top of the noodles was…. something. I don’t know, I think it might have been a really soft cheese, but I could be way off on that one. It was good, anyhow. The whole meal was quite tasty, actually, and all for an even 500 yen (about five bucks). Good stuff.

Next, I went to the first store I could find to buy an umbrella. I went in to a convenience store, and as well as the umbrella I found this:

Kit Kat Fruit Parfait, perhaps the oddest flavour of Kit Kat I’ve ever tried. The chocolate part was white chocolate with a very strong banana flavour, and the stuff between the wafers was some kind of berry. I was a bit disgusted by it at first, but after a few bites it won me over. I’d get it again.

Then after walking around some more, I found it. One of the greatest places I’ve been to so far. Remember in the other post I was talking about the food area in the lower floor of a department store? Well I found another one, except this was like double the size, and way better. It was awesome. It was really just an overwhelming amount of food. If there’s a heaven, I think it’s something like that place. In fact, even if there is a heaven, Jesus would be looking down like “Man, I’ve gotta get in on that place ” and then God would be like “Oh you know it, J ” and then they’d both high-five.

Here’s a guy in the sushi area cutting into a giant fish:

Here’s a few more pictures, though they really don’t do the place justice:

I would have taken more photos, but shortly after snapping that last one I was accosted by an enormous Japanese guy who informed me, “No pictures! Just shopping!” I mean, he was nice about it, because I don’t think it’s possible for a Japanese person to be impolite, but still, I was a bit stymied. Anyway, without taking at least thirty or so pictures, it would be impossible to convey how gigantic and how wonderful that place was.

That was pretty much the end of that day. I’ll leave you with a few pictures I took while wandering around.