Happy hump day!
Last years overseas trip saw myself and my friend Shannon visit Japan! Neither one of us had been, and we set out to spend a month travelling around this beautiful country taking in as much of its culture as we could. I have known Shannon for what seems like a million years and she and I have spent way too much time having fun down at Phillip Island in Victoria for numerous motorcycle races at Moto GP and World Superbikes. Our love of motorcycles and racing is how we met back in the day.
After a few months of planning and organising what we both wanted to do in Japan we came down to a handful of cities. Our first stop was Osaka. Shannon crashed at my place the night before we left and we flew to Osaka from Sydney. Despite all our trips together we realised it was the first time we had actually flown together. I am happy to report there were no fights over the armrest!
Although the flying time was less than 10 hours it seemed longer than flying to London. We arrived in Osaka at sunset and were relieved we had organised for a hire car to pick us up and that we didn’t have to get the train. The airport to our hotel was quite a fair distance so it was a smart move on our behalf. Neither one of us speak Japanese but managed to fumble our way through check in with the staff. We checked in our bags and investigated our room, which took all of 5 seconds as the rooms are tiny in Japan, and went hunting for our first Japanese meal. We had Indian and it was fantastic! Yep. We flew all that way to eat Indian on our first night. To this day I am still thinking about that dinner it was that good!
After wandering around the hotel area later that night we headed back to the hotel and got ourselves organised for a full day around the city for day 2.
The next morning we walked to Osaka Castle which was just around the corner. The grounds were stunning and Japan is incredibly clean. There is no chewing gum stuck on the ground, everyone takes their rubbish with them or uses bins if provided and staff even remove weeds from walls. Cherry Blossoms had not bloomed by this stage. We tried to plan trip for when they did but just missed out. When they do bloom, people immediately book their trips and pay a fortune. Despite missing out on these beautiful trees the gardens around the Castle grounds were still absolutely beautiful. We took a tour of the Castle itself and it had great views of the city. After a quick bite to eat for lunch we made our way back to the hotel to chill out and start the ultimate challenge – working out the railway system!
The railway network was insane especially coming from Sydney where it isn’t worth mentioning that we even have one, it is that bad. After 45 minutes we managed to work it out after finding someone who could assist us. We made our way to Dotonbori which is very popular with tourists. It still took us a bit to find the area after we arrived at station and we got side tracked in the huge underground Mall. When we made our way to street level we asked a Police Officer for help. Turns out we just interrupted him in on a bust and his partner was arresting someone and had them spread across the bonnet of their patrol car! He didn’t mind at all and pointed us in right direction. Just two completely oblivious tourists walking around town!
Dotonbori is where we got what I would consider our first authentic Japanese experience. All the hustle and bustle was here with neon lights and huge displays. It was great to walk around and take in all the sights. With the sun setting we found a great little place to eat where you order your meal outside via a vending machine and hand the ticket to the staff when you enter so they can make your meal. I was easily impressed! No wait staff required. We also found a cat café where we spent a solid hour patting all the kitties. I was in my element. Even though it had only been like 2 days I was missing my furrbaby already. To top off our night we found a great little rock and roll bar and had quite a few drinks. The bar owner was a massive fan of Elvis and great music was playing all night. There was no concern for how much we had to drink either the owner just kept pouring the drinks. Quite a change from Sydney! For our first full day in Osaka and our trip we were off to a great start!
Our last day in Osaka was spent at Universal Studios and running around like big kids. That story will come soon so stay tuned 🙂 I will write over the coming weeks about our trip to Japan, there is a lot to tell!