Now that I’ve recovered from last week’s cold, I took advantage of this weekend to go out and explore the Kansai area. I’ve had a VERY busy weekend, so I plan on making multiple posts detailing what I did each day. It was lots and lots of fun but now I’m so so so exhausted!
In my kanji class last Thursday, I was making small talk with a classmate next to me and mentioned that on Friday I was planning on going to Osaka to visit the Gudetama Cafe. She got really excited and asked “Do you mind if I tag along?” to which I naturally responded yes and we exchanged LINE (the main messaging system in Japan) information and planned on meeting after our classes on Friday. Luckily we both get out pretty early on Fridays so we were able to head to the train station at around 12:30PM.
Seeing as I didn’t even know her name 24 hours ago, it was a bit awkward between us while walking the station. Then, I slipped and took a tumble down a hill (my knee is still bruised!!) and when she tried to help me get up, she slipped and fell too! After that, the ice was broken and we became much more comfortable with each other. After all, nothing says “friendship” like bruised knees and egos. On the train ride to Osaka we discovered that we had a lot of common interests and got along really well!
Our first stop was the Gudetama Cafe. For those who don’t know who Gudetama is, it’s a Sanrio character (Sanrio also owns Hello Kitty) and is essentially, a lazy egg. That’s right, it’s a cartoon-y egg that often says things like “I wanna go home” or “I’m lazy.” Of course, I connect to this egg on a spiritual level so when I learned that there was a cafe in Osaka that’s Gudetama themed, I wanted to go immediately. In theory it’s a 15 minute walk from the station, but the roads in Osaka are hardly labelled, so it was a nice 40 minute stroll around the city until we finally found the cafe, located in the HEP FIVE building in Umeda, Osaka. The cafe was everything we wanted and more. There was a television playing clips of Gudetama living our their daily life, the menu was filled with egg shaped food, and there were plushies all over the place that you could snuggle up to.
After ordering our food, we wandered over to the gift shop section to see what they had in store. The wall of merchandise varied from stickers to canvas bags, all with Gudetama’s face on it. Naturally, I wanted to buy it all, but the food was already pretty pricey so I opted to save my money in hopes of coming back again some day. Following that, our food arrived and it was absolutely adorable! It wasn’t the best tasting food, but it was just too adorable to pass up! I’ve included a picture of the coffee I ordered, as well as the cake that Nettie (my travel buddy) and I split. Look at the cute little face!! Look at the strawberry hat!! That is truly artistic excellence.
After exiting the cafe, we wandered around the building and found an entrance to a ferris wheel! In the middle of the building! I couldn’t believe it. Naturally, we forked over the money and boarded the kanransha (ferris wheel) and off we went! It was very slow moving, so I’m glad I had a friend to keep me company. Once we reached the top, we could see the sprawling city laid out before us. It was absolutely breathtaking. Nettie managed to spot the Osaka Castle in the distance, but neither one of us could get a good picture of it. Regardless, it was the type of view that you want to have sketched in your mind forever. We went in the middle of the day, so I’d like to return either at sunset or at night to see how the city’s landscape and color scheme changes.
Once we got back to the building, we saw a poster for an anime that we both love. There was a lot of kanji on the poster that we couldn’t read, but in the corner there were bold red letters that read “6F” which we understood to mean that whatever the poster advertised was on the sixth floor. We took the world’s slowest escalator (maybe it was just a staircase?) and followed the signs to…. a Shonen Jump Shop! Shonen Jump is a digital magazine that publishes all sorts of manga on a weekly basis. The store contained merchandise from said magazine, and it was so fun going through each aisle, separated by manga title, and seeing the wide selection of goods. I’ve included a poster, not the original one that caught our eyes, that was posted outside of the store.
The store had absolutely everything! From stationery to t-shirts to physical manga, there was something for everyone there. I ended up buying some buttons and a folder with my favorite character on the front, but there was plenty more that I wanted to buy! The Jump shop was amazing but was also a true test of will to not spend my entire budget in one day. Also, the store had pillars that included the heights of anime characters so you could compare yourself to them, which was so much fun and immersive!
After that, we decided to go to a different store that also sold anime and manga goods, but it paled in comparison to the Jump shop so we didn’t buy anything and instead started our journey home. In regards to my life in Japan, one of the (many) things that I still haven’t adjusted to is dealing with public transportation during rush hour. First of all, I’m 80% sure that the train station in Osaka is larger than my entire hometown. Secondly, I know for sure that between 5PM and 7PM the Osaka train station is more populated than my hometown. That being said, I clung onto Nettie’s tote bag as we tried to push our way to the proper platform. And that was only half the battle! Actually riding the train is an entirely new story because of how crowded they are. I’m going to new a few more months to get used to the lack of personal space, and by the time I get used to it, I’ll be back in America!
Overall, it was a really great day! I made a new friend and we got to geek out over all sorts of nerdy things together. In fact, we got along so well that Nettie and I are planning to return to Osaka this Friday to see a Japanese boy band perform! I’m so excited! My next post will be about how I went with some friends to Kyoto, where we tried (and failed) to hike through the Fushimi-inari Shrine.