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June 10th, 2019

Osaka: June 8

Walked down my shopping street, found a Chinese place with made to order dim sum, had some. 1350 yen for 16 dumplings, not bad. Including soup dumplings. The ha gow were teeny, though.

W told me she lives in fear of bicyclists. I'm quickly getting there; lots of them on the sidewalk or mixed-use streets. It's a really good idea to look back before shifting your walk left or right. I even contributed to an accident: I saw a biker coming, tried to get in line with a standing man to get out of the way, he moved back to get out of *my* way and thus went into the biker's path. Bam! No injury, but geez.

Had a quiet afternoon staying close to my toilet. Noticed that I have karaoke places on both sides. At least they shut up by 11pm.

There's a big E-W street just north of me. W tells me that since addresses are based on zomming-in area and block number, no one pays attention to street names. Anyway, I went walking west along it. I'd asked W about CVS equivalents; seems either 100 yen stores or conbini (convenience store) like 7/11, Family Mart, or Lawson's for any non-drug stuff. Found a Lawson, which seemed more bilingual in its product labels. Passed some hotels with private rooms (but shared bathroom) of 1600-2400 yen a night, though I think from online these are tiny (slightly wider than a twin mattress, say.)

Eventually found myself in car country: no nearby station, few pedestrians, gas stations and car lots. Turned back and took the JR Loop line to Osaka station, and walked around for a while in a busy place there.

A girl on the train had what I can only describe as face-framing hair whiskers. I've seen that on anime, not live before. There's probably some proper name for them.

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Osaka: June 9

Met up with W near Osaka castle park, and got up to the entrance of Osaka castle. Where there was a line, and W realized she didn't want to do that again, and I should go on my own on a weekday. So we walked around the park a lot.

Castle construction and moat reminded me a lot of the Tokyo one, unsurprisingly.

Had my first takoyaki. It was okay.

Part of travel is finding what another culture does better (trains, safety) or worse/alien (no soap in park public bathrooms, hardly any paper towels anywhere, few public trash cans apart from conbini or train stations, few drinking fountains (true of all non-US countries, in my experience), wall maps have random orientation.

She headed home, I figured I would finish riding the JR Loop to see more of the city by day -- it's an elevated train. I found myself on a train that would turn into a rapid train to Nara, an hour away. I mean to go, but figured 5pm wasn't the best time, so switched and ended up at Namba, another busy downtownish area. Including a little river, so that was nice to see and smell, and see tour boats on.

Went to Sushizanmai, a staple of my time in Tokyo in 2008, but it's more expensive either now or here.

Right in the middle of all this shopping is a little Buddhist temple, Hozeni I think, with what I would think is an attached Shinto shrine (row of orange torii, water ladle, wish placards.) Symbiosis at work: people were pumping water at the presumed shrine, to throw onto the moss-covered Buddhist statue.

We'd dropped by a shrine at the castle; W snarked that having someone sell you charms was a key part of a shrine or temple.

Hmm, wiki says many Japanese temples also have a https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ch%C5%8Dzuya not just shrines, and no one mentions a shrine, so maybe that was a false positive.
https://www.osakastation.com/hozenji-temple-hozenji-yokocho/

Had a skewer (yakitori) of "chicken skin" from Family Mart. It did in fact seem like skin. There was "chicken tail", too.

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Osaka: June 10 (Aquarium)

W had said that a good option for a rainy day was the Osaka Aquarium. Not a casual or cheap option -- 30 minutes away and 2300 yen admission -- but Wikipedia said it was one of the largest aquariums in the world, and reviews were good, so I went today.

Lots of different exhibits, some trivial (the first one, "Japanese forest", with a couple of sleeping otters and a bunch of plants), some huge (the Pacific ocean tank.) A highlight of this aquarium is that it's very deep: you go up to the top, and the top of various exhibits -- e.g. penguins, seals, and dolphins -- and then you spiral down, and see underwater levels of those exhibits, going down quite a ways. Some aren't too exciting, like the giant kelp of the Aleutian islands (still, informative), while for others you see diving penguins, seals, and dolphins...

There are a couple of odd ones, like the ring-tailed coati, which I don't think is even aquatic at all, or the capybara, which does eat riverside grass but still.

The penguin one had king penguins, gentoos, and Adelie penguins. The kings stood around looking big and yellow-stained, while a couple of Adelies were playing quite energetically in the water, or jumping out and diving in again. Their exhibit was full of actual ice, including ice bits continually dropping from a hole in the ceiling; some kings stood under it and apparently didn't mind ice whacking them on the head.

There were a couple of Pacific whitesided dolphins, quite active, without many people around; the Japanese seem to prefer penguins to dolphins.

The Pacific tank is Big and has Many Animals, in particular two whale sharks, I'd guess around 6 meters long (based largely on a painting in a shopping area later). Quite impressive. Also hammerheads and various others, large manta or sting rays, schools of mackerel, etc.

A cafeteria sold me a fishcake sandwich, and provided actual paper napkins, contradicting my experience and testimony so far.

A deeper tank had giant spider crabs. Lots of them, very large. Very creepy.

I grew up hearing that sharks and rays had to keep moving in order to breathe. There were a whole bunch of bamboo sharks resting at the bottom of the Pacific tank, gills moving without their bodies going anywhere, so I guess not. They weren't just scattered around, but there was a whole cluster of sharks and other fish in a corner. I have no idea if they were being social or if there's something attractive about that corner of the tank.

(AMNH says some sharks do have to keep moving, others don't; all do have to keep moving to avoid sinking to the bottom.)


I'd gotten there at 14:48, and made a second pass starting around 18:00. The puffins seemed more active, swimming around, while six sea lions had all gone to sleep on wooden platforms, and cuddling; one seal was resting elsewhere, while another was still frolicking. I had previously no idea there were more than one seal and two sea lions.

The "Seto inland sea" tank had lots of things, including a cluster of one fish species all resting together, and octopi mostly in pots. One was moving around, apparently trying pots, which were occupied.

There's a room of jellyfish that's pretty cool. Some are small and plain, some are elaborately pretty.


I had a couple of train mishaps. One on the way, which I don't recall -- I think I got on the wrong line for the route I'd planned or someting. And on the way back, I got off at Hommachi, when I needed to get off at Saikasuji Hommachi. Happily, a different line also went from there to my home stop. Less happily, it took 2-3 minutes of walking, probably why Google suggested the other route.

Osaka has some sort of free municipal wifi portal. I haven't tried using it yet.

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