Date: June 22 & 23, 2008
Where: Osaka and Takarazuka
Info: Elspeth told me about Takarazuka a long time ago and we finally got around to going on our final weekend getaway. Takarazuka is a city northwest of Osaka and it's home to the Takarazuka Revue, an all-female cabaret. They are famous for their extravagant costumes (think sparkles, feathers, Las Vegas) and finales. We got tickets for The Scarlet Pimpernel (HA!) and met up with some of Elspeth's Kyoto friends.
Our first stop in Osaka was the touristy HEP Five mall (apparently, this place gets more visitors than Tokyo Disneyland each year!) where we rode the famous red Ferris Wheel located on the top of the building. It was overcast but we had fun taking pictures and trying to find Osaka landmarks.
From the Ferris Wheel pod you could see all across the city. The vastness of Japanese cities still amazes me. The buildings seem to go on forever.
We tried to get some good pictures of us with Osaka in the background.
We finally got bored of the views and just started acting crazy...
Seriously, Elspeth...we are crazy.
We found an game center, played some taiko and took some purikura. We looked around the HEP Five stores but decided it was too busy and expensive (and any mall without a Hello Kitty store isn't worth Elspeth's time). We looked around the insane Disney store and then took the subway to Namba Station and walked to our favourite tanuki-themed okonomiyaki restaurant.
Our waitress seemed to think that we had no idea what we were doing and hovered over our grill. We tried to show her that we were okonomiyaki pros but she didn't believe us. Once it was cooked and we'd applied our sauce and mayo, she grabbed the mayo bottle and ran away, relieved that she didn't have to help the foreigners anymore. We took our time eating (it was raining outside) and giggled at the young boys eating beside us (their flipping attempt went very bad indeed).
We wandered down Dotombori and saw that the famous Kuidaore Ningyo mechanical clown, who stands in front of a famous restaurant, was decked out in an Indiana Jones outfit to celebrate the release of the movie. Interestingly, I read on the internet that this restaurant has recently closed and that the clown, who has been standing there since 1950 (and is always surrounded by tourists) is to be removed.
Our next stop was the Kaiyukan (Osaka Aquarium). Yes, I'm sure you're all thinking, 'Laura, you've been there so many times! Aren't you tired of it?' Well, yes, I have been there a few times (with a bunch of different people) but I love it. And this time we went at night, which I've never done before. Before entering the aquarium we did a bit of omiyage shopping and I bought myself a big stuffed takoyaki toy (octopus ball). It was so cute and made me think of all of my apartment takoyaki parties that I couldn't resist...
It was beautiful and calm, like always. We wandered around and were puzzled by a poster introducing 'Kai-kun' the whale shark. I could have sworn the shark had been larger the last time I'd been there and after a little research I found out that the old, large whale shark (Yu-chan) had died only a few days after I'd seen her with Tiff and Aaron in 2007.
We were freaked out by fish that you could see through and that didn't move.
We were also freaked out by little pink fish who could hang out vertically and stay like that for a long time...
The jellyfish were awesome as usual and seemed extra bright that day.
We stayed until the aquarium closed and then took the subway to our hotel. We got a bit lost (we were staying at a station close to the private train to Takarazuka) but an old woman helped us find the hotel. We wandered around the empty arcade and then found a ramen chain shop that Elspeth had been raving about earlier in the day. We slurped down some of the best ramen I've ever eaten and then ran back to the hotel in the rain.
The next day we took the Hankyu private train line to Takarazuka with Elspeth's friends. The performance was really great. I should have read what the Scarlet Pimpernel was about before going but Elspeth helped me out and Elysaar filled us in about the political/historical info at the intermission .
The finale was especially fantastic, complete with can-can line and large feather cape-things!
(This isn't from the performance I saw but just so you can get an idea of what the Takarazuka Revue finale looks like!!)
Takarazuka was a rather small city so dining options were limited after the show. We ended up buying food at the station department store and eating outside. A group of little kids were running around a fountain and they all stopped to look at the group of foreign girls eating gyoza and noodles. We said goodbye to the others and then headed back to Osaka and took the train back to Nagoya.
Elspeth had purchased a stuffed kitty (she's a fan of the kitten in socks character) so we couldn't resist stopping in at our favourite game center under Bic Camera and taking some purikura with our little friends. These are some of my all-time favourite photos...so awesome. I'm sure my mother is cringing while reading this and looking at these photos...hahaha!
I loved Osaka's wonderful food, sights and atmosphere! Each time I visited I found something new and exciting! I miss you, Osaka!!