I had prepared a screenshot of my map that would lead me from the central bus stop at the Umeda building to the central station. Upon taking a second look, it seemed amazingly far away and with my backpack that magically seemed to gain weight (but I had just sent away 2 kg!), I decided for a change of plans. And walked into the opposite direction.
Back-breaking and Brain-Fooling
Which wouldn’t have been such a bad thing if I hadn’t gotten the idea into my head that I should be taking the subway instead of the city train, which resulted in it taking me about an hour carrying 30kg around on my back, looking completely rugged and missing my turn, ending up on a parking lot instead of the station.
In apparent devastation I asked a pair of women passing by, who turned out to be the sweetest people and they walked me all the way to the actual station, calling their English speaking friend to help me communicate. It must be said, that didn’t help the communication at all because I was handed the phone every 3 minutes just to repeat what I had said earlier. All I wanted was to go to Nakatsu station. That hadn’t changed. And yet the phone came and the question of where I needed to go. Confusing, yes? Annoying when I was already suffering from backbreaking pains (due to my own hoarding habits).
I made it to the station where my new friends were communicating with the information centre on what trains I best needed to take, minutely scribbling everything down. I insisted on having to arrive at a certain train station, even though I was on a subway (remember my mistake?). Funnily enough, my phone soon told me that they were basically next to one another and so all the discussions were for nothing. I didn’t tell them that, though and was thankful for their enormous patience.
Living the Glamour
When I had made it to the hostel without any complications I realised I had booked myself into a hotel. With a fancy shower that had scented products available and a single room with a TV! For the price of a hostel. I was ecstatic and didn’t want to leave. The bliss of privacy and the quiet for working properly. It all seemed too tempting. But I was in Osaka and waited for a friend to meet up with. She cancelled last minute and being set on seeing at least something else than my private room, I raced to the central station.
I had some travel planning and scheduling to do, and once that was done successfully I decided it was time for lunch. It was 3 pm, after all. I was directed to the 11th floor food court, which was supposed to be medium priced. Well, it was too medium to be in my budget range. But my stomach was on the brink of collapsing and my energy levels plummeting and when I arrived at a shiny all-you-can-eat buffet at the Platinum with beautiful cakes and a chocolate fountain, I couldn’t resist.
Now the problem was the price, of course. It was reasonably priced but living mostly of instant noodles and splurging on local cuisine is usually the way I go. So that needed to be justified by my conscience. We had a long talk. And then I spotted a sign saying something about 20% off. So I called upon the staff to help me translate. That was quite the odyssey. For the waiter because he kept running back and forth, clarifying my questions and consulting on the answers.
In the end, I would have had to sent my personal details to some unknown Japanese address for an unknown purpose and rejected the whole endeavour. But I still had another voucher. It wasn’t valid, though. Still torn, the waiter offered me a 10 % discount. At that point, I would have eaten here anyway (the customer service was just outstanding and the food smelled outrageously good), but that was a nice bonus.
And there I was. Just me and a wagon load of all different kinds of Japanese foods, Western style salads and sweets. Lots of sweets. Armed with my plate, I tried everything I could and can now safely say I have ticked off quite a lot of Japanese cuisine. No need to go out buy everything extra. Unless I really like it, of course. Another nice bonus.
The Western style treats were not as good compared to home, which is to be expected. They are adapted to the national palate and thus different to my expectations. So skip out on spaghetti carbonara, potato salad or pizza when you’re in Japan. And why would you consider this anyway? There is so much delicious exoticness here to choose from.
Take for instance the different kinds of skewers, so typical for Osaka. Or the different varieties of sushi (I am still not a fan). Or how about that nice corn soup that you can get in every supermarket? Then there are all kinds of fish preparation, grilled meats and cooked vegetables. But I am boring you with the savoury stuff, aren’t I? What you really want to know are sweets?
Let’s start off with jelly strawberry cake, followed by a pink creamy cake, chocolate and berry on top, as well as a Japanese style muffin and a sugar coated sakura cake. The green tea cake I cannot recommend and the taste of sakura is slightly overrated, if you ask me. But that all faded into the background by the most heavenly slice of cheesecake sprinkled by forest fruits. After that, the still amazing Baumkuchen with a raspberry sauce smiley face and waffle combined with mango and green tea ice cream together with lots of sprinkles was no match.
The chocolate fountain was my last try and then I happily sunk back in my chair and watched the masses hurry along the train station from my window seat of the 11th floor. I soon had to leave to make space for other hungry foodies but seeing that I had stuffed myself with enough lunch and dinner to last me the whole day, I say this was a worthy investment. I didn’t even need t sneak some chocolate out of the depths of my backpack (I need to rule myself in sometimes).
And with my stomach being in utter bliss and my happiness mood bursting, I wanted to just get to my place of solitude and write about it, reliving every yummy bite. But what do you know, from the 11th floor of the Railway building I had an excellent view of the misty cityscape that slowly was coloured in red by the fierce ball of light sinking into the mountains at the horizon. So sitting underneath the swaying cherry blossoms, my eyes feasted on the sight before me. What more can I ask for?