Day 4 in Japan found us at the Pokemon Centre in Osaka. It took us a while to figure out that it was actually inside the Osaka train station, and Craig and I were wowed by the thirteen floors of department store that we went through until we reached the centre at the top. There, on a Saturday, it was a children’s wonderland: there were cookies shaped like Pokemon, stationery, plushies, bags, charms, trading cards, arcade-style games and best of all, other children with Pokemon games. In fact, there was such an abundance of 3DS’s that I quickly made it my mission to unlock the achievement for 100 streetpasses in a single day. To that end, Craig and I spent the entire day in Daimura and around the train station, returning to the Pokemon Centre several times to pick up new streetpasses, following kids around until the Little Green Light of Joy started flashing. By the time we left, I counted 72 encounters and I resolved to get the final 28 on the way home. I picked up a few here and there, creeping slowly into the 80’s. When we got on the train I wasn’t picking up anyone new, and in desperation I abandoned Craig and started walking the length of the train, getting off at each station and proceeding up into the next carriage. It is in this fashion that I found myself in the Women Only cart, which I realised with tremendous embarrassment when I noticed the abundance of schoolgirls. Fortunately no one said anything about the creepy guy lurking in the corner, and I quickly made my way back to another carriage. (I later saw a guy sitting in a Women Only cart, so I think it does happen occasionally and isn’t as screamworthy as I feared). By the time we got home I had picked up 98, and in a fervour of desperation we headed back out to Shinsaibashi to find the elusive two.
To my relief, we picked them up quickly and enjoyed a night of walking around in one of the busier shopping districts of Osaka. We had dinner in a vegan restaurant that the owner of Le Coccole recommended to us. And as fate had it, she also came in for dinner there halfway through our meal and said hello! Afterwards we had a distinctly un-vegan cheesecake (which was so soft it was almost wet), enjoying the sights like the Glico running man and the giant crab. We found a store dedicated to K-pop paraphernalia, and discovered the wonders of the toylets in the Sega arcade. Toylets are perhaps the most brilliant luxury invention I’ve ever had the pleasure of using: they’re simply a urinal with a target in them and a video screen above them showing a cute girl doing a news report in the park. The more you pee on the target, the windier it gets, and the girl responds by covering herself and blushing. It was so simple, and so entertaining, that I was tremendously disappointed I couldn’t immediately play it again.
Since then we’ve also taken a day trip to Hiroshima. It was a bitterly cold day when we visited the Peace Memorial Park, learning about the horrors of atomic war. I was moved to tears several times as I read and listened to stories about individual human beings who suffered tremendously due to the reckless abandon of nuclear destruction. Over and over the resounding message was “People are so stupid to cherish something such as the atomic bomb as valuable”. One thing I particularly loved in the museum were some of the cranes that Sachiko had folded herself. We walked the grounds, looking at the A-Dome (the hull of a building that had been cherished before the bomb), the Children’s Memorial, and a Phoenix tree, a symbol of hope that new life could continue to grow after such wanton devastation. The tree in particular resonated with me because after the bomb it was commonly believed that nothing could grow in the soil for 75 years. Yet this tree, a kilometer away from the hypocentre, began sprouting new leaves. It was moved to the peace park, and its seeds are taken to primary schools around the country to continue to spread the message of hope. Afterwards we went for okonomiyaki, Hiroshima-style (made distinct by being pre-cooked and including soba noodles), and it was the best meal I’ve had in Japan to date.
That’s enough blogging for one day, but there are plenty more things to write about. I’ll update again soon. Happy Valentine’s Day all!