November 14, 2003

Osaka, day one

November 14th.

WOW, this city is amazing! I got into my hotel at about 7:30pm last night (13th, local time) its in an area of town so lively and loaded with neon signs. There are so many restaurants per square inch here its insane. I went out with three other Nova instructors to get some food, and man was it good. After that, I called Daow, and we met at Umeda station, about 15 minutes north by subway. This I did on my own, without much trouble. In the end, this city is much like the other big cities I have visited. I am particularly reminded of “Calle Braulio Murillo” in Madrid. Wide sidewalks tiled with textured tiles. The road signs are identical to the ones in Europe. I see ads for Nova every which way I turn, so much so that I have even seen t-shirts that parody the company’s mascot cooking “SOVA” noodles!

Umeda blew my mind. There are covered arcades that span blocks and blocks filled with restaurants and other stores, video games, “pachinko” parlors and more. There are also many brothels and other adult places all over the place. Even late at night, the streets are crammed with people, many going home after a night of drinks, others going home from work. One thing I noticed was how well people dress here. However, virtually all men wear black suits or deep navy blue suits. To really see fashion, you have to look at the girls. And what girls they are! Beautiful, some look as if they are made of porcelain. The elegance is simply stunning.

Daow took me to eat sushi at a restaurant in this covered arcade. The sushi is put on a moving belt, and you pick what you want from it. It was simply delicious, like no sushi I have tried in The Americas or Europe. Well, I am in Japan after all, so it is to be expected. I feel bombarded with energy. You can drink your beer openly on the streets, as we did last night after dinner. People smoke everywhere, but hardly anyone eats in public.

The people are friendly here, and also helpful. I had some trouble purchasing my train ticket to Umeda, and I asked this gentleman, in the most primitive way of communication that I wanted to go to Umeda station. I pointed to myself, then to the subway map and said “umeda”, he showed me what to do, and even pointed me to the right platform. People here are approachable.

Once again people in my group reminded me how desirable western men are to Japanese women. Daow also mentioned it. It is an interesting fact I suppose; one thing is certain, the women here are beautiful. Today I will go to Uehommachi station to us the free wi-fi access there, and upload and update my blog with this long and boring log hehehe.

Right now, its almost 9am, and in the hotel room is not the place to be. I will be taking a crapload of pictures today. Last night I scoped out some awesome places to photograph, so tonight, Friday night, I’ll be shooting like mad. One thing is certain; no amount of research and preparation would have prepared me to the pleasant surprises and the beauty of this city. Its simply gorgeous.

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