Day one – Osaka and the magic of the public transit system

Like any other day, we started by going to the Instant Ramen Museum, as one does. Should be straightforward……walk down to the subway station nearby, grab a train, and off we go. Until you realize that Osaka has something like 3 or 4 competing transit systems, and none of them work together, so you have this interesting thing of trying to decide which train system you’d like to give money to for that day and hoping they go where you want. We chose the subway, because why not (also we didn’t actually understand how much they didn’t like one another yet. Not like in the Sharks vs Jets way. At least not that we saw. Though a rumble between executives of Osaka railway companies would be pretty damn awesome).

So on to the museum! We rode for close to an hour on lovely green velour seats (if you ever wondered where the velour from your grandmother’s couch went – we found it!) ¬†and got off to transfer to the other-system-we-didn’t-pay-for-yet at a station called Umeda. Turns out Umeda is an entire district. There are whole maps to just get around this 10 city block area (or thereabouts…..its kind of sprawling). There are tunnels EVERYWHERE. Which is another thing we learned quickly about Osaka. On a map where it shows you have to get off the train and walk for 300m one would naturally suspect, well, time to get out into the rain. One would be wrong. For nearly every step we took between stations was underground and filled with little shops, restaurants and bars. Very few points did we need to go above ground. Its like there is an entire second city lurking below the ground. Presumably there is a third city below that, a a fourth inhabited only by mole-people. This might only be at Umeda, but it was something we would see again on our return trip from the ramen museum, which is where we were going before this tangent….

So we get to the station closest to museum and start the 10- or 15-minute walk to get there. Along the way we talk about how….nice….Japan is. When we were in China I was a fullly-fledged card-carrying freak. I was photographed literally hundreds of times, and the staring and leering from nearly everyone was so ubiquitous, by the 2nd or 3rd day we didn’t even notice it anymore. Even in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing where you could reaosnably assume people had seen white bald people before. Vietnam and Cambodia where similar, though not nearly as bad as China. Vietnam thought Holly was a freak too (China could care less). But here in Japan,….no one cares. Not at all. It is like the city streets of Vancouver where seeing someone from Japan or Malaysia, or a Sikh gentleman or a lady in a hijab are all equally likely and no one makes a fuss. We did get smiles and nods and “Good mornings” (presumably….though it could also be “screw you whitey” but I like to think positive) which was great.

Okay really onto the museum…..in its own post because Holly says this one is too long already.

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