Sunday, July 6, 2008

Osakaaaah ♥

Hello friends and greetings from Osaka! I still can`t believe we`re here! It seems so surreal being here. I wish I could upload some photos to show you what we`ve been up to but my laptop is dead and the place we`re staying at only has two-prong outlets. Right now, we`re in the middle of Shinsaibashi at an internet cafe. Shinsaibashi is a shopping district of covered walkways and corridors filled with many shops. It`s a consumer`s paradise! There are vendors shouting in crazy high-pitched voices trying to get you in their stores and colorful signs everywhere. Big departments stores anchor the corners of the corridors. My favorite so far is LOFT. We`ve only been to one floor - the stationery section - but it was absolute heaven! The greeting cards here are gorgeous and plentiful. The pens and papers are sumptious! ♥ We`ve also been to a hundred yen shop which had many lovely stationery sets. Ahhh...

Of course, there has been so much more to this trip than shopping. The other night, J`s friend, Megumi, took us to an incredible Japanese restaurant along with three other women from her English circle. The place was amazing - it resembled an old Japanese farmhouse with several little rooms (both small and large) with all sorts of antiquities decorating it. The structure was made of wood and very rustic. There were shelves all along the corridors which had crafts made by local artisans available for purchase - jewelry, items made from washi paper with Japanese brush painting, cute little hair bobbles and miniature food items (like cake slices and sushi) to name a few. In each room was a telephone to call in your order or to make a request. There was an abundance of food but in very manageable portions. It was like having a taste of everything. Each of us had little cast iron pots with burners underneath to heat up some of our food. I don`t even know what I was eating half the time but it was all very delicious. I`m not eating any meat or dairy but it seems to somehow sneak its way into the dishes I order.

Yesterday, we were invited to an English circle party by Megumi. I wasn`t sure what to expect from this event and it was truly something that you couldn`t predict. The party was held in a private room in some shopping mall. There were people greeting everyone at the entrance and we had to fill out name tags. The founder of this particular group was at the entrance and introduced herself to us. Apparently, this group started 14 years ago and now has around 50 plus regular members. The event started with the emcee passing around the microphone so everyone present could introduce themselves. There was a handful of non-Japanese guests from all over the globe including Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, China, France, Brazil and Canada. After the round-robin, there was all kinds of entertainment including traditional Chinese singing and a Jazz routine by Megumi. At one point, there was an intermission for everyone to mingle and have something to eat. It was a little insane - J was swarmed like he was some kind of celebrity and there was made email and business card exchanging. The most unexpected part of the event was when a game of bingo broke out - complete with wrapped prizes (one of which was some fancy toilet paper which was later given to us by one of the attendees). What an experience!

I only have a few minutes left on here since J & H are hungry and getting a bit anxious to keep moving. Before signing off, I wanted to share some observations I`ve made about Japan:

1. There is some mad high-heel action going on.
2. It`s not as expensive as everyone says it is (we`ve yet to experience the rumored $20 watermelons).
3. I`ve never seen so many wobbly legs before.
4. Auburn hair is really popular here.
5. I ♥ UNIQLO.
6. It`s hotter than hell here.
7. The Japanese are the kindest and friendliest people I`ve ever met.

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