I slept well last night. It felt like I was up for a really long time, because we were travelling with the sun, and it didn’t set on us until we got to Osaka.
The hotel window opened to a low-railed balcony that overlooked the city from the 31st floor, which yielded some nice breezes. Breakfast was not traditional Japanese. It was a smargasbord of Japanese and Western foods, and allowed the diner a choice of pickled plums, okra, seaweed salad and other Japanese treats, along with bacon, eggs, ham, croissants and the like. It was a bit disconcerting to find Western foods there, to be honest. I guess they’re trying to cater to our tastes.
As I sit here waiting for our tour bus to take off, I’m reminiscing about some of the more interesting parts of yesterday:
When I emerged from the steamy shower, I could see myself in the mirror! Instead of finding a fogged-up mirror, I was surprised to see a clear, unblurred reflection of myself peeking back at me. Heated mirrors! Furthermore, the toilet has a heated seat (complete with high/low temperature controls), and features a built-in bidet and sprayer. In other words, your toilet sprinkles your tushie clean. America needs better bathroom technology.
Our tour guide is an interesting old Japanese gent who seems to insist on talking the whole time. Ok, not the whole time, but enough to make me check out for lack of patience. He has just informed me that Osaka is known as the “Kitchen of Japan.” Cool.
We visited the Todai-Ji Temple today. The scale of this structure was staggering. It is apparently the largest wooden structure in the world. There was a pillar with a hole in the bottom that people would pass themselves through, and I slid right through. People were cheering as I pulled myself out, probably because most of the people going through were kids, and they were probably amused to see a gaijin (foreigner) pulling himself through a tiny hole in a giant wood pillar. I also tried some strange, fried starchy balls, some octopus dumplings, and some tea-flavored ice cream. Yum.
Later, we had lunch at a hotel. Our meals came out in an obento box, which is a typical lunch box of assorted meats and seafood, accompanied by bowls of miso and rice.
Did I mention the incredible gel drink I had last night? Wow. It was like drinking slushed up jello in a squeezy container. Yum. I wish we had something like it in the USA. They had assorted flavors, and many of them had vitamin and mineral supplements added.
Later on our sightseeing trip, we visited Takamatsu Sensei’s grave. The whole process was a bit rushed to me. It seemed appropriate that it was raining. The world was crying for the great loss of a Ninja Master.
After a really long bus ride, during which the back of the bus got caught in a whirlwind of humor and proceeded to laugh ourselves to tears, wherein the simple mention of the word “splint” would send us into peals of laughter, and a delicious treat called Pocky – Men’s was passed around freely amid Indian/Sri Lankan accents aplenty, we finally arrived at our hotel.
The dinner spread was ridiculously huge. Even I, with my voracious appetite, was unable to completely devour what was placed before me.