I had an awesome time in Japan a couple weeks ago traveling with Relient K. John and I flew into Osaka where we spent a couple days before jotting off to Nagoya for a day on a bullet train, stopping off for a moment and then continuing on to Tokyo where we spent the rest of our time.
Osaka was a maze of alleyways and arcades. Close to the hotel was this sweet mall, The Park, that had a multi-level outdoor park like setting. Great for getting lost in or photo bombing the locals on a morning bagel stop. We also braved the subway/train systems to go check out the Osaka Castle which was a pleasantly beautiful park in an overwhelmingly urban setting. Perhaps the better part of our trip was our first experience with a bidet. The toilets in Japan can be very rustic (a hole in the ground) or super high tech (lots of buttons, warmers, lights, etc.). I’d much rather have the latter of the two, thank you very much.
John and I got into Japan a few hours before everyone else so we decided to go out and explore a bit. One of the things we noticed was that a lot of the signs for restaurants and stores were in English even though English wasn’t spoken or understood. Okay, I say we noticed it, but I guess I should more accurately state that we learned this. We wanted some coffee since we’d been awake for about 20 something hours and attempted to order some at the Sunshine Corner Cafe. Turns out they were trying to figure out if we wanted to be seated in smoking or non-smoking while we were trying to order coffee to-go. In the end, we ended up leaving without coffee and went to the safest place we could think of. McDonald’s. And then Starbucks. We quickly became well versed in pointing at menu items, smiling, and looking confused. It worked.
On our way out of Osaka we saw sumo wrestlers (the real deal!) and rode the bullet train to Nagoya where we stopped off for a couple hours before heading on to Tokyo.