If we were on The Amazing Race, today we would have been eliminated – Osaka

Rainbow in Osaka

As you are not allowed to wear shoes on the premises, the Capsule Value Kanda provides a limited number of slippers which are supposed to remain in the toilet/wash area, but some people would just wear them around the building, so sometimes there’d only be one pair left, which meant that if you didn’t want to walk into the toilets with bare feet you had to wait until the slippers were available.

Once we were both ready, we walked to Kanda station to reserve two seats for our train trip to Shin-osaka, then had breakfast a local diner. There were four set breakfast menus; the one I ordered comprised of a salad, a toast with tomato paste, cheese and possibly capsicum, a hardboiled egg with the whitest shell I have ever seen, and an iced tea. At less than $5 each, it was a nice breakfast that would do me nicely until Osaka.

We checked out of the capsule hotel, and caught a train back to Tokyo where our Shinkansen would begin its journey to Shin-osaka station. At the platform, we each bought a drink for the trip: Bob’s drink was a green tea, and mine ended up being a beer, which I was not really in the mood for.

On an SBS travel show we’d learned that to get the best views of Mt. Fuji when traveling from Tokyo to Osaka, one should sit on the right hand side of the Shinkansen. Unfortunately in this case it wasn’t to be as we learned we were on the left side. The views were beautiful regardless, thought I must admit I was engrossed in A Dance With Dragons so I missed a fair bit of it.

I’d read that it was a good idea to reserve seats ahead of time, so as soon as we arrived at Shin-Osaka we sorted out the next leg of our journey. What a good tip it was , the train that arrived at Kinosakionsen around check-in time was already full, so we had the option of either an earlier or later train. We opted for the former, as we felt it would allow us to see the town for a couple of extra hours.

With the next leg of our journey sorted, we had a quick look at a local map and walked towards the hotel. For the first couple of nights I’d been booking hotels near their respective stations, as I felt it would maximise our productivity. It worked in theory but there were other forces at play today.

Too early for check-in, we left our luggage at the front desk and walked around the corner in search for food. We decided on a small diner across the road from the station. It had a vending machine which you used to order your food on arrival, before handing your ticket to the waiter. I had a beef and rice dish, and Bob a salt and pepper pork dish with spring onions which made my dish look pretty boring. I tasted the two types of mayonnaise available: both delicious.

Vending machine

Our itinerary for the day was quite simple: a visit to The Church of Light, by renowned Japanese architect Tadao Ando, whose other mayor works are incorporated into a later part of the trip. I’d worked the start of our trip around this viewing of the Church as it only allows visitors on certain days between certain hours. It was a Wednesday, and we were allowed to visit between 1.30pm and 4pm. Plenty of time, right?

We definitely spent too much time in the hotel after check-in. Although we spent some of it researching the journey to the Church, I didn’t download our findings to my phone, and so even the productive time we had at the hotel was rendered pointless. When we arrived at the station I made a silly assumption based on a map at the station, which meant we started off walking towards the wrong church. We also stopped for sweets. (Who can resist cream puffs?) By the time we realised we were at the incorrect church we:

  1. were too far from the station to ask somebody, and

  2. had traveled too far to make it there on time.

We continued walking aimlessly regardless (there was a rainbow and rainbows = hope, don’t they?) but suddenly the thing which had been the core of my early Japan trip plans was no longer within our grasp. The mood was sombre and not even the beautifully enormous rainbow could brighten it.

We walked silently back to the station, and alighted at Osaka station. The sun was almost set, and because this had been our only plan for the day we were headless chooks in a big city. I made the call to stay in the buildings immediately surrounding the station. On the south building there is an enormous department store and, within it, Tokyu Hands. I had Tokyu Hands down as a place to visit in Tokyo, but since we were there we checked out all three levels in search of gifts. We ended up buying ourselves new toothbrushes

The giant department store had given us a giant appetite, but there was no food court in sight. We walked outside and ended up entering the north building which had restaurants on one of their higher floors. They were quite expensive and given the mood I don’t think either of us were in the mood for a fancy restaurant, so we gave it a miss. One of the basement levels in the north building had a massive food court. We did two laps and I picked a bento box, whilst Bob already had his eye on a tempura box from the first lap and accompanied it with fried rice. Another lap, and dessert was chosen. I wish the Google Translate app on my phone worked in this instance as there were lots of interesting foods to choose from and I would have liked to know what some were. We came across some very expensive fruit, one felt like a visitor in a jewellery store at times.

The day had not turned out how we had planned it, not by a long shot. What a shame. Back at Shin-Osaka Station Hotel, I realised that there was another opening for a Church visit on the Sunday, so we decided to try again then. Maybe the rainbow was right after all.

Breakfast the next morning was included in the price of our stay, and we both chose the Japanese option. Breakfast was laid out in a buffet style, so I filled up my tray with fish, miso soup, a raw egg which one would whisk with soy sauce and pour over hot rice, an assortment of pickled vegetables and rice.

Day two, otherwise known as our first full day, had been somewhat of a disappointment, but as we ate I knew this was a new day and in a few hours we would be on the road less traveled (as far as international tourism goes, at least).

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