Sunday, March 14, 2010

Cosmosquare and the International Manga Museum

I wrote this out last night, but did not have the chance to post it until just now. We are also going to some Water Temple after the Golden Temple, it seems?

Today was our last day in Osaka, and our first day in Kyoto -- it was kind of sad to go so soon! Despite what I was told, I found I really enjoyed Osaka.

Anyway, since I knew we were leaving later, I decided to wake up early and head to the port while Ben was asleep. I skipped clubbing/bar hopping with Ben the night before so that I could wake up and go, actually. Despite this I kind of just winged where I was going on the metro based on the name and how it looked out the window, settling on Cosmosquare as my destination...which is really big, pretty, and probably important. I got off the metro and went immediately to the water, which was so excellent and refreshing! I really love the sea, and the coastline was fantastic. I just kind of walked alone the boardwalk for about 15 minutes before exploring Cosmosquare, a place called "Port Town" my main goal. In doing so I managed to pass by all sorts of interesting things, including the World Trade Center in Osaka and the Osakan Congress, as well as a cool park. I feel I should mention there was also a kind of amusement park further down called Cosmos Seaside, and a Maritime Museum all in this same area. It was rather odd to see such things grouped together, but really cool. I ended up getting to Port Town area, but not the actual Port Town -- the only appealing thing I saw was something that looked like the Power Plant in the original Pokemon games. Apparently, if I had walked around the whole area the one entrance to the touristy Port Town would have been clear. Kind of aggravating to have this happen two days in a row, but I was there too early for shops to be open anyway. From here I just kind of rushed back to the hotel before check-out, then we were off to Kyoto!

The train ride was pretty crowded, but it was rather fast and the towns and mountains between Kyoto and Osaka were quaintly gorgeous (I would really like to stay in a small town like the ones I see from inter-city trains and buses for a few days, and may do so during Golden Week or a 4-day weekend). Kyoto, at least the two areas we have seen so far, is extremely up-scale and ritzy. All the buildings are kind of magnificent marvels, mainly museums and trendy cafes/restuarants with some very nice looking hotels thrown in for good measure. It is all rather intimidating at first, though intimidation is already melting into curiosity and excitement. Also, our hotel is a steep improvement over the last one, looking rather fancy and the room being rather nice, even if it is small and there is only one bed.

After some wandering around, we got a rather fantastic meal (really really tasty Gomajji Miso Tonkatsu, or Sesame-flavored Miso Breaded+Fried Pork, and pretty reasonably priced) and rested at the hotel. Afterwards we decided to go to the International Manga Museum -- which was pretty cool. The inside was half enormous manga library and half museum with information and some exhibits, such as a room dedicated not to Osamu Tezuka but to his work, Hi no Tori (Phoenix) explaining a giant sculpture of said bird in the main hall. There was also a cosplay event going on, so we got to see a lot of people in cool outfits roaming the museum. Basically the experience was wandering around in awe of the library and costumes, watching people just sitting everywhere and anywhere reading, and then reading ourselves. There is also a courtyard connected to the building, where you can go outside and read, or as the case was for us, where all the cosplayers were gathered and showing off for eager fans with cameras. The main exhibit, though, was a large room, as in tall, where the walls were just filled with manga that wrapped around the room separated by year, in chronological order of first publication. Around the room there is information about manga, figures and interesting facts, as well as cells and all sorts of cool things. The whole experience of the museum was just awesome. I would have found the museum to have been worthwhile just for the chance to read some of Phoenix, but it went way beyond my expectations. I feel I should also mention there were a lot of foreigners in the museum working as volunteers, which is pretty neat. Ben and I both kind of agree that if we were studying in Kyoto we would probably do the same.

Anyway, moving on -- tomorrow our plans are pretty sparse compared to normal, but should be nice. Basically we plan to go to the Golden Temple...and that's about it. I guess we are also looking around for places to do the day after around our hotel, in order to making things easier between check-out and our night bus, but that's about it. I guess if we see anything really cool we'll do that too, time will tell!

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