The day after we visited friends we went to Osaka to see another one of my friends. Her name is Eri. She does not know English. She can read English ok, but she is unable to speak or comprehend what she hears in English. That is due to the fact that Japan's educational system of teaching English was mainly grammar based, and they barely had any speaking practice. Today, the educational system has since changed, but that was only very recently.
Since check out was around 11am, we did not worry about rushing. We had already had our main luggage shipped to the hotel and only had a small carry on sized suitcase. It made traveling much lighter and easier. Anyway, we had breakfast and drank some tea. Took some more medicine then gathered the rest of our belongings and headed out the door to the front desk. We checked out then set on our way to Tokyo station so that there would be more bullet train options that were heading Osaka. It was raining that day so we had to hurry to the station before we got soaked. Thankfully, our hotel was really close to the train station so it was not that long of a walk.
We boared our train to Tokyo, then headed to the ticket counter and thankfully got reserved seats this time on the way towards Osaka. The train ride was scheduled to take a little over 3 hours from Tokyo to Osaka. I sent my friend a photo of my ticket, so she would know exactly when we would arrive and she told me that she would be meeting us at the station.
The train left at around 11:15am and would not be arriving in Osaka until after 3pm so we decided to purchase something to eat for lunch as the food on the train is pricey. After looking at the prices in the little shop, we realized that we probably should have gotten something before arriving at the station, but we didn't know so we just got the cheapest food we could find and stood in line for boarding. A shinkansen station is basically like an airport. You have seat assignments, you board according to the type of ticket purchased (green car-first class, reserved seat-business class, and non-reserved seat-economy), each tain has name just like different airlines, and each train has a number. There are even attendants that come by with food and drinks. There are also overhead compartments for storing your luggage. The only difference, apart from being a train and not a plane, is that that seats fully rotate 180. It is one of the coolest things you could ever see. I would like to see a plane chair do that. Perhaps flying wont be so terrible if that were the case.
The train ride was pretty much standard. We sat, ate food, drank water, looked out the window, took pictures of things we saw out the windows, and took naps. Once we arrived, we really had to go to the bathroom. There are bathrooms on the shinkansen but we were just about at our stop so we decided to wait.
My friend messaged me that she was waiting and when I saw her, I was super excited. We immediately start catching up (in Japanese) and after about 5 minutes I introduced her to my husband and she used all the English that she knew in meeting Josh. The rest of the day I had to play interpreter and it was a bit difficult at first because Eri would be explaining something to me in japanese and JD would be asking me questions or talking to me in English. My brain doesn't work that way. Eventually I just ignored JD and finished listening or speaking to Eri, then asked Josh what he wanted.
Remember how I said that in Japanese the verb comes at the end of the sentense and how that if you don't know the verb then you don't know the sentence? Well, that happened. It happened right after meeting Eri too. She asked me "Do you want --- your luggage?" I asked her to repeat what she said, and she did, I still didn't understand, she said it in a different way, and I still did not understand. I have no idea what I want with my luggages because I have no idea what the verb is! Eventually, I turned on our wifi and opened up my dictionary app and looked up the word she kept saying, and as it turned out, she was asking if I wanted to drop off my luggage at our hotel. I will never forget that word now!
She helped us find out hotel and showed us some of the popular sights along the way. On the way she asked us what we wanted to eat for dinner and told us the local cuisines of Osaka and we decided on Takoyaki and Okonomiyaki to try. We found the hotel and checked in, and oh my GOODNESS!! This hotel room was awesome! It was the biggest room I have seen in Japan, and it was super fancy. The front desk spoke very good English but I only ever used Japanese with them and they graciously spoke Japanese back. It took me a while to fully comprehend exactly what everyone was saying because they have a different dialect in Osaka verses Tokyo, and they use different words for some things, but it only took about an hour or so of talking to Eri before I was use to it. She even taught me some of different words that they say in Osaka. I was very happy to use them and she was excited that I wanted to learn them. We tried teaching JD some Japanese too. She found it very humorous. Jd does know some Japanese, but for some reason his mind goes blank as soon as someone asks him a question. He will learn Japanese though and gain confidence, he just needs to practice more.
After we brought everything into our hotel, we headed out to Osaka Castle. We had to take the subway but that was ok. It was much faster than taking the train. The weather was perfect. It felt like we were in California. Eri was complaining that it was too hot and I told her that in Arizona it is much much hotter and that the weather there was absolutely perfect. It was raining a lot in Tokyo but in Osaka it was nice and sunny.
We arrived at Osaka castle and we were immediately impressed. It was so huge! Plus the walls were gigantic! The wall was built in 1680AD. The rocks are so huge! We took a picture by one of them because of the impressive size. JD was curious as to how they were made so I asked Eri hoping that she would know, and she said that they had lots of logs and rolled the stones on top of the logs by pulling them with rope. I told this to JD and he was impressed. We got there about 40 minutes before closing so it was just enough time to look around at everything inside the castle. We got to the top and it was almost like being in a tower and seeing all of Osaka. Eri pointed out Osaka tower in the distance and I did my best to take a picture of it but it was too far away to get a good picture.
There was also a picture of what the view from the castle looked like when it was originally built. It was very interesting to see the change from then until now.
After Osaka Castle she took us to Dotomburi which is the famous shopping street of Osaka and there was Takoyaki pretty much everywhere! You could smell the great food in so many of the shops. JD's knees were hurting and he was getting hungry so Eri bought us Takoyaki and told us the various ways in which you can eat Takoyaki. There were several toppings to try. Takoyaki is SOOOOO good!! It was one of the most delicious food I have ever tasted. JD ate a whole one much to quick as they just came off the pan so they were very hot.
Eri asked if we wanted drinks and JD said yes so she bought us drinks too. The shop owner was very funny. He asked us if we understood Japanese and I told him that I understand some and that JD understood nothing. My friend responded with "I am very skilled in Japanese." The owner asked where I was from (all of this is in Japanese btw) I told him I was from America. He then asked me something else, I guessed it was where in America I was from, but I had never heard it asked the way he asked it so I was not sure. He tried asking in English and says "What state, what brand, what maker, what type are you?" It was so funny!! We laughed so hard. The guy was making all kinds of jokes and I was happy to know that I understood them.
After eating the Takoyaki we walked around the street some more talking and taking pictures. There were so many lively people. I don't think I have ever seen lively Japanese people before. It was an interesting change. Osaka was like the LA of Japan. That is pretty much how it was. It was more of the less safe places of Japan. At least in the area that we were at.
We walked around for a while then decided to sit down at a restaurant and eat some Okonomiyaki. If you don't know what that is, I suggest you youtube it. There are several different styles but they are all basically the same thing. It might not look appatizing, but man is it delicious! She asked us if we wanted yakisoba or okonomiyaki and it took Jd a while to decide but we settled on Okonomiyaki. We went to a little restaurant that was hidden in a crevis of a building as many of the places are, and headed up the stairs to the main seating area.
I told her that I don't eat meat and she helped me find an option without meat. We orded our food and I showed her all our pictures we had taken so far during our trip. We talked about school and jobs, and she told me that she has started working for a company as their pharmeseutical technician. She graduated with high honors. She showed me pictures of her graduation ceremony and the festaval. Japanese people love festivals so any excuse to have one they do and go for it big. It looked so fun. I kind of wished I was there lol.
Eri again paid for the meal. I thanked her and she said that she wanted us to have a good time in Osaka and be able to experience as much as we could. I had given her a bag a brownie mix and told her how to bake it, and as her gift to me, it was paying for our subway tickets and meals.
In Japan after you finish paying for the meal, you immediately leave. It is concidered rude to just sit at the table when you have already paid and are no longer eating anything, so after she paid and got her change, we left the restaurant. She asked if I knew where my hotel was and I said I did, then she said good bye and left. She lives in Kobe which is about a 30 minute train ride from Osaka. So it was not that far and she didn't mind traveling out of her way to visit us. She even wore heels and a nice dress. I was so happy I had put a skirt on that day when we met up. I would have felt bad if she dressed nice and I hadn't.
After she left, we walked around the street for a while, but JD's knees bothered him and my feet hurt so we went back to the hotel to relax in the awesome room. I put one of the yukata style robes on and wore the slippers provided. It was very comfy. I even took a nice Japanese style hot bath. Their bath tubs are so amazing.
We watched some TV and went to bed. :) What a great day filled with lots of food, Japanese, and a great friend.