We took our JR passes and booked it over to Osaka. We wanted to see some amazing stuff that we saw on No Reservations.
At the train station I was very excited to see and then taste Fanta "Moo Moo White". Akebono did a promotion for them this past year, and I hadn't seen it in the States or Taiwan. Now that I've had some, I don't ever need to taste it again. It tastes somewhat like carbonated Yakult, and I like to keep my fizz and my probiotics separate.
Train stations provide much visual stimulus. We weren't even to our destination yet and I kept finding fabulousness. Like this guy, the mascot of the city of Nara. He looks like a fabulous deity -- some incarnation of the Buddha. Nope. He's Sento-kun, a newish cobbled together mascot who is ticking a lot of people off.
More train riding:
One of my favorite things in Osaka was the Open Air Museum of Japanese Farm Houses. Twelve antique farm houses from different regions of Japan were relocated here, beginning in the 1960s. Each house is set in its own small landscape. Because each is made of wood and most have thatched roofs, a pail of water stands ready within.
Where possible, the houses are outfitted with period furniture. It was a misty, rainy day, and for that reason it is easier to imagine the period in which these buildings were in active use.
The thatched roof below was producing roof iris. I had never heard of such a thing. This is the view from a vintage tea house, and these bamboo benches were pretty fabulous.
From here we went to Osaka proper. Osaka is full of downright goodness. Check out the signage and wires.
This is Sammy's Ebisu. I'm so sad it closed.
This is across the street. It's Karl! Eating my favorite flavor of Karl, light salt.
Osaka is famous for its tako yaki (for you scandinavians, imagine octopus aebelskiver. everyone else imagine octopus donut holes with savory sauce). Who could resist the lure of a flaming baby with taro horns offering you a piping hot sixer of tako yaki?
Again, the lure of the flaming baby. Mrguy and I shared six and then went off in search of more.
As I mentioned, Osaka is chock full of visual stimulus.
We knew we needed more sustenance before venturing out of the neighborhood, so we had twelve more tako yaki at this place on the street. The photos below are to the street and to the back of the restaurant. The tako yaki were yummy.
One of our goals in Osaka was to find the original cat cafe. On the way to find it, I saw this sign and figured it was a cat cafe. Mrguy wasn't sure (what if it was something unsavory?) but if it was I wanted to see it anyway! We went up in the teensy two-person elevator and found the hippie cat cafe.
Here we are. Inside, for ten bucks you get a beverage and a room full of cats.
This is the traditional greeting. Multiple cats scamper over each other to be the first one to smell the feet of newcomers. I hadn't changed my socks from the day before so they got an extra treat. You find a spot to sit in, and then your beverages come and the cats start to ignore you.
There are cats in bowls.
This cat is in charge of the sink.
This is the view from our seat. My original greeter is in the center of this photo. A kitten sits near the front door. See the light blue hamper under the bookshelf? There is a cat asleep in that also.
What you can't get from these photos is the ambiance. A couple sat on a small sofa with a cat visiting with them on a table. The cat, a Maine Coon, was so vast that he lapped over the table. Another couple sat behind an Indian screen. They ignored the cats and read magazines the entire hour we were there.
On the sound system was the Nonesuch Explorer Series recording of the Ramayana Monkey Chant, followed by what, on vinyl, is side two: twenty minutes of gamelan. I have that record! Funny.
Mrguy wanted to take me to America Mura, so we went. I expected to find it touristy and awful, and it had some great stuff including a store called Drum & Bass. This place is crammed full of Reggae 45s from Jamaica, recorded in the 70s. Mrguy was just about cross-eyed with the abundance. I was disappointed that he didn't buy any vinyl, but he did buy an awesome compilation CD that he loves.
Seems impossible, but we did more stuff. We had heard about a brewery run by women called Minoh. A bar called Beer Belly sells Minoh, so we went there for some beer and another bite to eat. We ate in a hallway that was essentially a passageway between two rooms. For those who care, the Minoh Double IPA tasted a little like a Luden's cough drop. The weisen is very nice.