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June 11th, 2019

Osaka: June 11

I didn't get nearly enough sleep, and gave up at noon, so it wasn't a day for big adventures like Nara or Kyoto.

(One benefit of being in Osaka is that I can allegedly just day trip to a bunch of other places, with having to juggle more housing.)

I realized that I have my own place, sandwiched between karaoke places. As long as it's before 2300, I can practice singing full volume and no one can complain. HAH. Actually there's another apartment below me, so I still tried to stay in the front, or sing in the bathroom, in case some other traveler was trying to sleep late. But still, cool.

Eventually I wandered out to hunt down a Sukiya branch east of me in Abeno; this is a chain of cheap and English-friendly gyuudon (beef bowl, like Yoshinoya) places. I'd seen some in Namba and near the aquarium but hadn't eaten at one yet. Cheap as in a basic bowl is 400-500 yen. Took me a while to actually find it, all while trying not to get run over by bicyclists, but I did. It was okay; greatly enhanced by the pepper-thing I sprinkled on, and the mass of pickled ginger I mixed in. Oh, and extras of green onion. But there are big bins of pickled ginger at your seat, so I helped myself generously. No tea though; when went to Yoshinoya in Tokyo there were huge bins of free genmaicha to serve myself from. Sukiya had paper napkins.

I saw signs against biking on the sidewalk, nearby. The people seemed to have decided this is one rule they won't obey.

Parking garage! 1000 yen for 3 hours, 2000 for a day (I think), 35000 for a month. It's roughly 100 yen to the dollar (108 yesterday), so that's $3 for an hour, or $350 for a month.

Across the street from Sukiya was Q's mall. I didn't explore it much, but the first thing I saw was, in katakana, "chi chi ka ka". I thought a moment and wondered if that was "Titicaca". Yep, it was. Some store devoted to Latin American clothing and other products. A name from an Andean lake, signs about Day of the Dead and Lucha Libre, coin purses from Guatemala (the only tag of origin I could find or at least read.)

Then I wandered north into Tennouji Park. Too late for any of the attractions, but I figured, park, could be fun to walk around, right? Right. Lots of greenery, some bright red bridge, a small steep hill Chausuyama that wikipedia tells me is a kofun, good lord. I think I need to go back and pay more attention.

Tried some Buddhist temples but they were all closed.

Wasn't hungry enough for any of the tempting restaurants (including one called Usagiya, which I wanted to parse as Rabbit Store, but selling okonomiyaki), so got some food to go at Lawson's, including my first pork tongue (smoked slices in a bag) and cooked quail eggs (not my first, but first from what's basically a 7/11.)

I got deceived by packaging, though: there was something I thought would be a chunk of grilled salmon, based on the picture and english label, but it was onigiri with salmon inside. I would have seen that if I'd looked more closely, but didn't. Might have bought it anyway, but I opened it thinking it was salmon to put on my instant rice, but no, it had its own rice.

---------

Other thoughts:

All bathrooms have been the "futuristic toilets", with heated seats and water jets and such. Except for one squat toilet I saw in a stall in the aquarium; the other stall had a future toilet, with instructions on the wall about how to use this Western-style toilet. (Don't squat on it; do put your toilet paper in the toilet to flush. This raises questions...)

Given that they've been around for decades they're hardly future toilets anymore, except that I'm from the US. https://www.theonion.com/earthquake-sets-japan-back-to-2147-1819569216

I haven't said much about the trains because I so quickly slipped into taking them for granted as how Things Should Be In A Civilized Country, but they're awesome. I think they run every 5 minutes or less? Except coming home last night from the aquarium, 9 pm in some semi-distant part of town, they were every 10 minutes. TRAGEDY. Oh, and if you take a rapid train to Nara that might be 15 minutes. They're clean. The stations are clean. They line up with line-up points. (BART does that too, but not as quickly.) People haven't been playing loud music on them. The trains are more bilingual than I recall Tokyo 2008 trains reliably being, which is helpful for yours truly. The one flaw is that the A/C is sometimes weak for my taste.

Despite high density and narrow alley-streets, my neighborhood has been quiet. I can hear some noise in my bedroom but I am literally squished between karaoke places and even then just sticking earbuds in my ears mostly helps, without even playing anything. If I were in the front of my apartment I would hear a lot more but my bedroom is sensibly in the back.

Well, there's been some daytime construction or such noise -- manual, not Big Equipment -- but that's hardly a sin.

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Damien Sullivan
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