Saturday, June 30, 2012

Japan - Day 10 - Osaka

     This is my big day.  We get to go to the Osaka aquarium to see the only whale shark in captivity.  I've been looking forward to this for 2 years, since I first heard about it.  Sybilla fixes us yogurt and granola for breakfast and we head off on bus 17 for Kyoto Station.  It's a little confusing there.  The previous clerk had given us tickets for Shin Osaka, not Osaka - which is close but not the same.
     We use our rail passes to ride the Express Train to Osaka, then take another train to Bentencho  (James loves the name - minus the cho it is the name of a favorite kids' cartoon he used to watch.) Then we need to buy tickets for the subway to Osakako, where the aquarium is.  James is miffed as this subway is not sub at all, but merely another above-ground train.
     Tickets for the aquarium and a ride on the world's largest ferris wheel are 26,000 each - steep, but, hey, we've travelled halfway around the world to see this, right?  First we walk through an aquarium tunnel where the fish and sharks - all small ones, surround you.  James and I are especially impressed by the hammerhead sharks, which we've never seen outside of books and movies.  The aquarium is very nice, it spirals down so first you see the animals from above, then lower and lower.  We see otters -- very playful today, penguins (soooo cute- and they looked very happy with their ice cube snow falling from above) a wide variety of seals and sea lions and 4 pretty dolphins that seemed pretty confined to me.
     Then we see the big show tank - truly marvelous - sharks, huge rays, fish swirling in their ever changing parabolic patterns.  I sit and watch them, mesmerized, for a long time. If this is the tank for these fish, I think, what must the whale shark tank be like?  We follow the signs, and - BOOM - we are at the entrance again.  A guide shows me a small card that says something on the order of, "Sorry, we moved the whale shark to the something-or-other prefecture because of the water quality.  Please come back another time."  Great, I'll just zip back to Osaka in a few months.  Sigh.
     It starts to rain and becomes very misty.  We have lunch and shop around hoping it will let up but no such luck, so we go on our ferris wheel ride anyway.  We see a lot of mist.
     We do have the famous Osakan pancakes for lunch.  James says his is OK but my meat is very tough. Clearly, this cow never heard classical music, or had a massage in her life!
     On our way back, James spies a sign for the Osaka Pokemon center.  These are supposed to be areas for Pokemon maniacs to get together, and I think he expected them to be on every street corner.  This one is on the 13th floor of the Osaka Station Mall.  It is huge, colorful, loud and filled with Pokemon stuff for sale and teenagers battling each other on their Nintendos.  The big excitement is some new video game that won't be out in the States for months, Black & White version 2, apparently.  Large signs proclaim that these games will not work on the American DS.  Poor American Pokemon freaks will just have to wait a little longer for their fix.
    We both think it's funny that what's playing at the mall is the same song that's all the rage back home: "Call Me Maybe."  We also smile just a little at the people wearing surgical masks on the street and in the restaurants.  Some of them have to pull their masks down to insert their cigarette....
     Osaka on a Saturday night is a very crowded place.  Kyoto is better, but only just.  We are both tired when we finally get back to the B and B and decide, who needs dinner, anyway?  Tomorrow, Hiroshima.

Turn the sound down on this video at the aquarium

The Osaka aquarium

A ferry ticket was purchased with our aquarium ticket, so we go.

This would be great- IF it weren't raining and you could see anything...

The shark is a lie...

James visits Benten(cho)

There's a Pokemon Center on Floor 13?

Hell is very loud with cute yellow ears.

James likes Hell.

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