Saturday, March 13, 2010

Tennoji and Osaka Electric Town

Today was a pretty good, long, and eventful day. I woke up rather early and was surprisingly productive during those hours. When Ben did wake up we started our journey out to Tennoji, an area with a good amount of shrines and Buddhist temples. We started with some famous Osaka-style Takoyaki and some awesome Ikayaki, which are dough balls filled with octopus and covered in soy sauce and nori(seaweed) and a pancake with squid both cooked into the dough, and a pancake with squid fried into it wrapped around more squid and soy sauce. Both were really delicious. The area itself had a lot of small shops, a big park with a zoo, and, again, lots of temples. We visited two of them -- one whose name I don't remember and the Shitennoji Temple. The first one was smaller, but still rather large, and had both a rather modern style to it and a lot more Hindu influence than I am used to. It also had these weird sort of lounge/cafe things built kind of into one of the gates, just with seats and some vending machines in one side, and seats and incense on the other. It was just really odd. The second temple was enormous with lots of different things, including a sand-garden, a pond, pools with turtles in them, and even a cafeteria. Both were rather gorgeous, though Shitennoji had a lot of sand/mud just around, which was kind of less so.

Afterwards we went over to Nipponbashi where Denden Town, the Osakan Electric (Otaku) district is located. It is incredible! I was expected a kind of quiet area with a few fan-centered shops, but this was larger and busier than Akihabara! Not only was it huge on its own, but it kind of flows into Namba Market, which caters to a similar crowd, and possibly a third market, perhaps without a name. There was even some wares that impressed me - particularly we went into a doujinshi (fanmade comics) store in which there was a floor dedicated almost entirely to the Hetalia show, and a floor that had doujinshi for everything from anime and manga to pop music artists. I was tempted to buy a TM Revolution/Daisuke Asakura doujinshi, but they were kind of hard to recognize.

Our final venture was an attempt at reaching "Amerikamura" or America Town. Apparently it was where American imports were illegally imported around the war, and has evolved into a kind of fashion district with, as Ben puts it, "an otaku-ish feel." I am kind of dismissive of this as we did not reach our goal, though we did see some cool things. We basically tried to walk to Amerikamura from Denden Town, though we stopped at a rather cheap Noodle shop on the way, near Namba station. We passed a large amount of high-class (Armani, Swarvoski, etc) and foreign stores on the way, which was pretty cool and intimidating. Eventually we turned a road we thought would lead to Amerikamura, but ended up in a rather high-end indoor shopping street. It is hard to describe what these are, they are kind of like if you take a traffic tunnel and turn it into a mall. Koenji is kind of built this way in Tokyo. It was kind of cool, but not exactly what we were hoping for. I am kind of impressed that I have more or less gone through Osaka without buying anything but train tickets and food, oh well!

Tomorrow I hope to wake up early and head to the port, though based on my experiences with Japan so far, most shops and things will probably be closed. I will have to get there either really early, or really rush myself as hotel check-out is at 11 and Ben and I want to get over to Kyoto soon afterwards. It is close enough that we should be able to just take local trains, which should be kind of nice. Kyoto should be awesome!

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