Osaka city limits
Trip Start Apr 25, 2006
76Trip End Apr 25, 2007
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Keiko had discovered a great tourist deal where a 2000 yen ticket would give me entry to pretty much all the main attractions of Osaka, along with all-you-can-eat rail usage. Obviously I needed a full day to get the most from it, so decided the next sunny day would be my target. Bought the ticket from the train station, and discovered I could hang onto it for up to a month before activating it (automatically happens after the first time I use it). Very strange that the whole deal seemed targeted towards Japanese tourists - no english maps/instructions available
Probably the first thing I noticed was the abundance of "Pachinko" centres, dodgy DVD stores and special "massage" parlours. I guess they are somewhere in Tokyo, but I just never came across them there! Pachinko is the gambling game of choice in Japan, but it looks just as stupid as the pokies in Oz. You buy a cup of metal balls (like ball bearings) and then feed them into the machines. They drop down, and bounce randomly off a whole bunch of obstacles until they reach the bottom - a bit like pinball but you don't have any paddles to hit the balls with. The goal is for the balls to end up passing through a gate at the centre-bottom of the machine, and I guess the more that go through there means the more points you get. Apparently the only control you have is the time delay between the balls dropping. The REALLY interesting part is that when you win a bucket load of the balls, you don't just go and cash 'em in (that would be too simple). Instead, you exchange the balls for a prize (think stuffed animal) and THEN take them to your friendly neighbourhood mafia shop where they buy the stuffed animal off you for a price that seems quite similar to the cash you would have won! I have no idea what is behind this intricate web of deception, but I imagine it is some sort of legal dodge.
Had 'famous' Osaka Okonomiyaki today - it's sometimes referred to as a Japanese pizza, and involves a sort of pancake mixture, cabbage, nuts, bacon, fish flakes, BBQ sauce and mayonnaise. I was completely sold until the mayo came into the picture, and had to flag the chef down before he put any of it on mine. Surprisingly it all goes together quite well, and has quite a bit of potential as a 2am drunken food source.