It’s a bit sad saying goodbye to my favourite hotel. I will miss the art deco building across the streetand the cram school I can see from my window where the kids are studying until 11 pm everynightI have some time to kill between checkout and catching the shinkansen so I try this place called Cafe Koto, after I sit down a french couple walk in, she turns her nose up in disgust at the coffee and leaves (I tell them to try Cafe du Monde, New Orleans…knowing of course that the coffee there is probably worse!) I make a small joke to the waitress
フランス人ですから、失礼でなければいけません － They can’t help being rude, they’re french.
I think they have missed out on something unique……it’s not a wierd chemistry experiment, it’s their own particular way of preparing the coffee…I have a video of it, but I would have to pay an annual fee to upgrade my blog to one that allows animations 😦
The waitress finds it amusing that I am taking photographs, though she admits it is かっこいい stylish, cool. I ask her “Is this a rare thing even in Japan?”…she smiles and says yes it is. Oops, I just realised I missed a perfect opportunity to find out the japanese words for skim milk and decaf (not for me, for some friends also coming to Japan).
Here comes my train…A lot more relaxed without 50 other conference attendees, my cabin is almost empty. 15 mins later I’m in Osaka…now I need to transfer to the local subway and although all the signs are easy to follow, there seems to be a scarcity of escalators and lifts…
It takes another 20 mins to Shinsaibashi station which is close to my hotel. The walk to the hotel is along a wide main street with very wide pavements, the shops are Zegna, Armani, Dolce and Gabbana, McDonalds, Tiffany, Prada, Ferragamo ….hmmm, one of these things is not like the other ones!
…I turn a corner and within one block I am suddenly in what looks like Newtown…trendy hip clothes, leather jackets, funky shoes, record shops, second hand bookshops, tattoo parlours..it’s Osaka’s answers to Harajuku, but the fashion victims don’t impress me, I’ve seen students turn up to my lectures looking more interesting. It’s nickname is the American Wall, because it was the place to buy American products shortly after the war…now it is full of american wannabees…
I leave my bags at the hotel…it’s too early to check in and so I go and walk through the many, many, many malls ….they sell almost anything here…”where am I going?”….I’m going to find somewhere to eat…Shibazushi looks goodThe lunch special for 850 yen (about $10) is this sushi platter, accompanied with tea and a fish soup with a nice fish skeleton in it (I’m told it was salmon). I get chatting with this elderly couple sitting next to me…they are both in their seventies and have a great sense of humour, when I tell them I am a maths professor and I was at Keio Uni for a conference she says…数学はこわいねえ。 I don’t think I need to translate it, it’s what 90% of people say when maths is mentioned. They ask me how old I am, I tell them I am 46 and take off the baseball cap I’m wearing to show them I have lost my hair, he takes his cap off too, to show he has even less than me, and we all laugh…she asks if I like her hair, she says it makes her 宇宙人 (a space alien)…I tell her that space aliens should not be frightened of maths.
Anyway, sometime later I check-in, the room is about the same size, but the hotel looks like it was built in the seventies…it will do nicely though…the only tragedy is that this hotel does not have the fancy coffee bag contraptions…I suppose I will cope.
Time to go check out the famous Dotombori Street, which runs alongside a canal…Now, Dotombori is the inspiration for the opening scenes of Bladerunner, and I can see why…my camera doesn’t quite capture the mood, and there is a loud voice and an huge animated screen advertsing something…the only things missing are Harrison Ford and the escaped replicants.
Now there are also some “hotels” along Dotombori street, they have foyers that look like Las Vegas casinosand some of these “hotels” have their prices prominently displayed outside, you can hire rooms by the half hour…yes, I think Dotombori is a place where it is very easy to get crabsCrabs are an Osaka speciality along with Okonomiyake (a japanese type of pancake, omelette, rosti thing). The Osaka crowd loves all sorts of food they say “kuidaore” = “eat till you drop” …there are a lot of places that do dessert…however, some places appear to only offer vanillanow I wonder what dictionary they were using?