Saturday, 19 October 2013

osaka part one: osaka-jo, umeda sky building and a CAT CAFE

It's been almost a week since I got back from visiting Osaka, Kyoto and Nara with Gabby, and my head still hasn't settled back into Miyakonojo-mode. It was a pretty fantastic trip - although saying goodbye was even harder this time. 

I'd been quite apprehensive about making my way to Osaka by myself, but it was astonishingly easy - my bus arrived at each stop on time to the minute, and it took me a grand total of of 13 minutes after arriving at the airport to be seated at my gate, coffee in hand. Japanese Efficiency strikes again. 

I couldn't resist taking some shots from the plane - the sun and the prospect of seeing G again in my most daydreamed-about city made it one of the better journeys of my life :) 

Osaka sprawled out beneath us as we landed. Famous for its food, Kansai-ben dialect and friendly locals, it promised to be a fun place to spend 3 nights. 
We somehow managed to reunite in Yodoyabashi, and headed out to see Osaka-jo, the city's 16th century castle. The current building is a 1931 reconstruction of the original, which was destroyed by various armies and rebuilt many times.

 G got straight into the Japanese spirit of things. 

We had a classic soba lunch set by the river, and wandered around a wee museum with some very sweet dioramas. 

That evening we made our way to the famous Umeda Sky Building, described as a "space age Arc de Triomphe and designed by the same guy who did Kyoto Station. After wandering through the Kita underpasses and super-malls for a while, utterly lost, two locals took pity on us and escorted us to the right tunnel. 

While admiring the view we ran into a couple who'd taken our picture at the castle earlier in the day.
The two towers are connected by a circular viewing deck, sky garden and vertigo-inducing escalator ride, all of which turned out to be the apparent hot spot for first dates in Osaka. 

Hello, UV lights.

We finished the evening in a tower block of trendy pub-eateries, people watching and ordering Peruvian nibbles, Italian anti pasti and French fries. The people in Osaka were intimidatingly stylish in general - just about every woman on the tube would be dressed impeccably and wore heels with even the most casual outfit. 

The next day we headed to Amerika-Mura, an area in Minami full of young shops and bars, that was the place to buy Zippo lighters and Americana after the war. We were to fulfill a long-held dream of mine by visiting a CAT CAFE!!!!!!!! aghhh dj fioeifj

These establishments have been on the rise in recent years, presumably as a reaction to the difficulties of pet-ownership in an urban environment and the stress of modern working life. Unfortunately they can often ben pretty sad places, but this one, Neko no Jikan, was fantastic - clean and peaceful. The cats were clearly well cared for and had their personalities and histories detailed in albums lying about the room. For 1050 yen you could have a drink, play with the kitties for an hour, and rent toys and catnip to entertain them with for a small extra charge. 

As you can see, I was QUITE happy.

 Yes, that is a Halloween-themed bandana on his head.


Box friends. 

We rounded off the morning with some pork ramen by the river. Each station had folding partitions in between, and a blind could be drawn down in front of you after you circled your options on the paper menu and your food arrived from the kitchen. 

I'll post more about Osaka very soon. Tomorrow I run a 5km race in Aya with a fellow ALT and 2 co-workers - let's hope my hours of training (a grand total of 1 hour) pay off...


  1. That outfit really suits Gabby. You see a man walking down the street in that and you simply don't mess with him.

    The cat cafe photos are, without doubt, the best thing I'll see all day. Can't wait to read part 2.

  2. Thanks so much! Safe to say, I spend the rest of the day squealing whenever I thought about that blissful hour!!
    I really enjoyed your post recently about post-university life goals - it's so weird having the freedom and time to think about what you really want to achieve out-with school now!

  3. Royally treated kitties, awesome idea & I especially loved the discreet potty area. Why didn't I think of this?! (If I lived in NYC I would definitely give this a shot) Cat Bars Yeah - but would most likely need an awesome security guard for those inevitable Cat Haters out there - I'm thinking a Saint Bernard. They love kitties.

    1. I agree, Sondra - I'll definitely be sourcing one when I move back to the UK! Preferably with a Security Guard Pup included :)