Travel Tuesday Takeover: Japan Part 4

Happy Tuesday everyone, before I jump into the latest Travel Tuesday Takeover post, I wanted to share with you my delicious dinner from last night! I roasted up some green beans with salt, pepper, olive oil, and garlic powder. I cooked up some tri-colored quinoa, topped it with some goat cheese crumbles, and a TJ’s chicken sausage. Really random and quick and delicious!

Anyway, onward to Travel Tuesday! Today is the fourth installment of Travel Tuesday Takeover: Japan Edition. For a little background info, my friend Rebekah recently went on an exciting trip to Japan, and for the next few weeks she will be acting as guest blogger on Travel Tuesdays. Today’s post is Part 3, but if you need to catch up, check out her prelude, part one, part two, and part three posts. If you have any questions or comments for Rebekah, leave a comment (as always). Enjoy!


Adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun

Osaka: Sin City

On our very first night in Japan, we were actually told by a Tokyo local (albeit an impressively intoxicated Tokyo local) not to visit Osaka. Of course it was on our itinerary and a city we were very much looking forward to, but to humor him we asked why we shouldn’t make the trip. All kinds of half-Japanese, half-English, half-whiskey words were throw out which we translated as best we could to “bad” and “dangerous”—seedy, one could surmise by his comments. Naturally this only made us look forward to it more.

Where Kyoto was meant to be about antiquities and relaxation, Osaka was intended to be about the finer vices in life. We took a 30-minute local train from Kyoto to Osaka, found our hotel, and dropped our stuff. First thing we did? Stocked up on water, booze, coca cola, cheese and crackers. We mentally prepared ourselves for the hangovers to come.

There was much revelry at night—brew pubs (featuring beer made entirely by women–#girlpower), high end restaurants (what the hell?, it won’t be any easier to eat there than in the noodle joints), massive shopping arcades turned somewhat sordid at night, stumbled-upon red light districts (many…many, many), hip hop bars (far better music than most places in Boston), and one wayward Thai bar (Singha abounded). There was much recovery in the daytime—pirated Roadhouse, and I’ll admit it, McDonalds.


osaka hip hop bar

In a brief departure from our typical rainy afternoons in Osaka (the weather came back to haunt us on the last third of the trip), I decided to strike out on my own one afternoon—I said to hell with the language barrier and went to get my nails done. Yes, lofty pursuits in a country containing 16 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. (Lady Travel Tip: OPI shellac nail polish works fabulously for well over a week—but day 10 with the wear and tear of travel was pushing it.) This ended up being one of my favorite moments of the trip, not only because my nails came out pretty darn awesome, but because of the ingenuity of the girl doing them.

I was ready to throw the language barrier to the wind that afternoon, but this girl spoke very, very little English. All I could say in Japanese was “hello” (probably in the wrong form), “please,” “thank you,” and “white person.” Three out of four useful things, anyway. After we struggled through initial broken conversation to get me in the chair and on my way to a manicure (at least I hoped), the manicurist pulled out her iPad. I assumed she was simply killing time as we waited for my shellack to soak off, but then she held up a roughly translated question in English. I answered, she typed again in Japanese, translated to English, and held up her iPad. Back and forth we went for probably half an hour “chatting” about the United States, my trip to Japan, where I’d been, who I was traveling with, and the city of Osaka. Not rocket science of course—the Google Translate app actually. But how smart; we certainly hadn’t thought of that thus far. We tend to blithely laud technology for “bringing the world together” and making us “global citizens,” even though we spend a good deal of our time scanning the Facebook profiles of vague acquaintances from our hometown (guilty). As a technology soaked Gen Y’er, I still couldn’t help but be deeply impressed by technology truly and effectively bringing two people together who never would have been able to converse otherwise. Communication with anyone other than Matt was a hot commodity at this point in the trip. It was a small but very cool moment.

Next week: My oversimplification of Japanese society for your reading pleasure.