We arrived at 11:00pm and checked into the Super Hotel (in Minami, close to Nihombashi station). What a great hotel! It’s cheap, they give you tons of super-cute Japanese amenities and the bathroom is right out of a sci-fi movie: a cozy, shiny white capsule with automatic everything of space-age design. It felt like space shuttle bathroom. Its only two downfalls were the bad in-room internet connection and the weird hostel-ish rule of being forced to leave your room between 10am and 3pm each day. The front desk guy pointed us to an amazingly delicious okonomiyaki place just down the street where we had dinner. The next morning, we walked around and explored Minami a bit and I stopped at the bank to make a money transfer to secure my flight to New Zealand. I now have my ticket to Auckland booked - I leave Narita (Tokyo) January 18. From there I’ll be going to Rarotonga on February 9, then back to Auckland on Feb 14 to catch a flight to Taipei. After Taipei I’ll fly to Hong Kong…

Osaka feels different than Tokyo. Its smaller (though still a massive city at 3 million people) and it feels a bit less vertical, but still has much of the same crazy energy. The people here have lived up to their reputation of being funny and friendly, and the food has been nothing short of incredible. A local specialty is Takoyaki, cooked dough balls with a bit of octopus inside. There are takoyaki stands everywhere, and they all seemed to be good.

Suntory Museum Osaka

After finishing the ticket-booking business, I went off to visit the famed Osaka Aquarium, home to a giant whale shark. I arrived to find it closed, so instead I wandered into the Suntory museum right next door and saw a really great Alfonse Mucha exhibition. Later on I met up with Mayu and we roamed around drinking chu-hai and beer, playing plenty of taiko-game along the way. Turned in early to rest up for the trip to Kyoto the next day.

The rest coming soon…