Morning of not being able to find my little monkey acrobats:
I love Japan! Their houses all have these old fashioned shingled roofs like Spain or California, but gray and not orange -ish (usually, but I usually see one or two orange -ish ones per city), and Japanese style with little designs at the end of each row of shingles, and then the large ornate one along the very tops of the roofs, sometimes with little animal spirits on them. And almost every house has its own beautiful Japanese garden.
We reached Osaka around lunch time, so first off we had a picnic with some of Mochan!'s friends.
Junko (on the left, our main Osaka tour guide):
Eelke and David:
Then we headed out for a day of touring around Osaka lead by Mochan!'s friends from Osaka.
Heading to the Castle:
Joe really liked how all the castles have these rock foundations that curve outwards from the wooden castle. I was told this is structured like this so that people could open hatches on the bottom of the Castle and roll stones down the foundation to knock off trespassers. I wondered why not just make them vertical to make it harder fro trespassers so climb, and so you're not always throwing rocks on your own building. I received no answer to this question. But they did tell me that most castles are rebuilt every hundred years, so they aren't really made to last. They are mostly only made as a fortress for battles. And most castles have burnt down (some several times) since they are made from wood, so there really aren't any ancient castles. This on in particular I believe was rebuilt in the 40's.
Then, as at almost any place in Japan, they had card board cut outs that you can pose with. Joe and Bjarke:
This is Lili:
Eelke (pronounced like Erika, but Elk-ka) adopted her with David (yeah, her mom just let her go off with a stranger from another country while she hung out with some of the other women at the picnic a bit longer! Japan is so safe! It freaks me out!).
Bjarke got an iguana (well, he didn't buy it, but its like a festival there, and everyone wanted him to hold it, and when I say everyone, I mean all the Japanese people who wanted to take pictures of the Guijin (foreigner) holding an iguana).
This guy was cool:
He is being a popular Japanese icon who eats too much. That's all I got. I got his name too, but I don't remember. That, and something about his head explodes when he over stuffs himself. But then he always gets a new one somehow. Anyways, he had cups for different amounts of money, and while we were there a guy put in 200 yen ($2) for the maximum show! She started out just drumming, then he added the kazoo, then he added a little tin soldier style dancing, and then he played on his kazoo Adelvise, and Elaina very quietly sang along. I couldn't believe how perfectly she sang these high notes so quietly. Most people didn't even notice she was singing. She told me latter its all about supporting with the breath. I said okay, and it was beautiful.
Then Mochan! drove us to the shopping district and let us go around for a few hours and grab some dinner. It was too bad Mochan! never had a place to park, b/c he always had to drive away out of the city and wait for us to tour around. But he said he didn't mind, b/c while a lot of us slept on the buss, he had to drive. So when he drops us off at these tourist places he has been to all his live, he can park the bus and sleep in it.
These covered walkways through outdoor shopping malls I guess are really popular in Japan.
The Meiji store:
Then Mochan!'s friends too us to a very famous restaurant in Osaka. I almost cried a little. While we were still in China, maybe 2 weeks left, I gave up all fried food. I refused to eat anything if it had ever been even grilled. This was not an easy task. I didn't really eat much my last 2 weeks in China. Now in Japan, I had been eating fairly well (at the 7-11's), mostly yogurt and bread, but these women took us to a place where they are famous for deep frying everything!
I wasn't going to complain though, and I was just going to eat it b/c I was so hungry! Then Joe told them all "Oh no! Rain doesn't eat fired food!" So I got to munch on some cabbage they had just sitting on the tables for free like chips (I hate cabbage, ever since that cabbage soup diet Jessica dared me to eat nothing but this soup for a month straight.) But everything was made right because since I can't eat fired food, they got me a waffle stuffed with green tea ice cream (very popular in Japan, they actually have this thin crust crunchy waffle made like a shell, then ice cream in the center like an ice cream sandwich, but cone instead of cookie).
Then we went out and got some more food on the street. This was a kind of potato pancake with all sorts of gooey stuff inside and on top with veggies all mixed in. (Another thing Osaka is famous for, so of course we have to eat more.)
I guess this next place is a very famous symbol for Osaka shopping (the Olympic guy in the background). Lili didn't speak any English, and Eelke didn't speak any Japanese; so when we headed to the shopping area Lili attached onto Elaina. Elaina actually told me her exact words were "You are cute, lets hold hands when we get off the bus."
Also, Lili got a balloon animal at the Castle from this Mexican guy from Texas doing a show in Japanese. She kept messing it up though, so she would run to Joe and have him remake her the little dog. (Joe made balloon animals for a living when he was 16 at restaurants in downtown Akron.) Then I taught her to rub Elaina's hair with the balloon to make her hair stand up. She did not appreciate this. Also, she couldn't put her down b/c Lili was tired, and refused to be carried by anyone else. I helped out by caring her gigantic purse, but she insisted Lili still weighed more. I told her then she shouldn't be so damn cute, and Lili would let other people carry her.
Next, we went to get our pictures taken! This is one of the most popular things for teenage girls to do in Japan. They get all dressed up, and go and get their pictures taken and stickers made out of their photos. The place was packed, and you can find one above just about every arcade/ gambling shop, and you can find several of those in about every shopping center.
Lili was so cute! She did everything for us. And then she wasn't even that excited about getting the pictures, she just loved having them taken!
And after your done with the pictures, then you can edit them and put all sorts of cartoons and whatnot over your picture. Then you print out your stickers, cut them out, and stick them on things.
The final results:
I like that last one b/c Meri's one eye didn't get captured as an eye, so when Lili picked the enhance your eye size button, it made Meri look a little freaky.
Lili is going to be trouble when she grows up, what a little knock out!
Then Jorn and Ida took some couple shots:
The Japanese reads "Yo-n, Ida, Kawai" Which is their names in Japanese, and kawai = cute.
Its so funny when they open their eyes wide for the pictures, because their eyes are already wide, so it makes them look exactly like anime characters rather than just making Japanese eyes look western.
Some people wanted me and Joe to take some photos together, but it seemed like an awkward proposal. Joe and I aren't really cute at this point. We are kind of on the edge of being comfortable with each other. Something is coming, and I think we both know it isn't good. So we've been avoiding it by hanging out with other people all day. But maybe at this point it was only a feeling deep within my subconscious. Like I knew it was there, my I wasn't consciously thinking about it. The only reason I can mention it now like it is clear as day is because hindsight is 20/20 yeah?
Then we went out to a temple in the shopping center.
Lastly, we waited for Mochan to come and pick us up.
This evening we drove all the way to Kyoto, and then we got dropped off at like 4 separate hostels. Mochan! had us all book our own hostels for 3 days in Kyoto b/c there are so many of us and he didn't have any friend accommodations for Kyoto. Joe and I were the only ones at J-Hoppers, then a big group were at K's house, and then another group at Kyoto's Cheapest Inn. So Joe and I got a lot of things done not hanging out with people for the first night in Japan (with me not dying of some illness). And Mochan! said that he would pick us up in the morning at 9am to take us around Kyoto.