Friday, December 13, 2013

Japan 2013 Travel Log Part 1: Arriving in Osaka

Last January, during my winter break from Yonsei University in Korea, I went to Japan with my buddy Kyle and videotaped practically the whole thing! This was our first day there. 

The whole flight took under two hours. It felt as if, right after the flight attendant had finished giving her takeoff instructions, she started preparing for landing -- it was that fast! We used a discount airline called Peach, which is rather new and comfortable and specializes in short-distance flights between Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. I highly recommend it, as it was very cheap and pleasant.

There's the capsule area!
When we landed at Kansei Airport at around 11:30 pm, there was only one last shuttle bus, coming at 12:00 am, and the subways were closed. If we'd missed the last bus we would have had to sleep at the station or hire a very expensive taxi. (This is something to keep in mind if you're ever going to Osaka and don't have someone to pick you up.) Kansai Airport is enormous but the terminal we got out at was tiny, and so, embarrassingly, I thought the airport was really small. I found out when we left Japan at the same airport that it was huge. Oops!

There's me in my capsule in the clothes provided for us by the hotel. It was pretty comfortable.
The shuttle ride took almost an hour and a half and went through a whole bunch of industrial zones. I had never seen so many factories and refineries before. There was a group of Korean students on the bus who had been to Osaka previously, so we asked them for directions and advice. Eventually the bus dropped us off in the middle of downtown Osaka, but we were unsure where to go from there. Fortunately I had the address of the capsule hotel on my phone and a map of Osaka that was in Japanese, which I showed to a cab driver and he took us to it. This took a while though, because neither Kyle nor I can speak Japanese. Still, we eventually got there with much gesturing and indicating, and with not too much difficulty we found the capsule hotel at around 1:45 am.

There's Kyle standing in front of a shrine down the street from the capsule hotel.
The capsule hotel was on a corner surrounded by tiny little streets, and the entrance was hidden between two storefronts, which made it tricky to find. The hotel was essentially a bathhouse with capsule beds, and after checking in we went to the locker area to change into the clothes provided. There was a middle-aged man sleeping on the floor of the locker area; he had obviously drunk too much and hadn't made it to his bed. He seemed all right, though, so we didn't bother him. There was a sauna with a number of hot and cold baths, a TV-watching area, and a reading and eating area. We were both starving and we found an instant-noodle vending machine, which we immediately attacked. Once we figured out how to use it, I chose curry-flavoured because I hadn't previously tried that. After sitting around and eating, at around 3 am we decided to turn in. The capsules came in different types. You could get some with televisions and radios and whatnot for a higher price, but Kyle and I just stuck with the minimum. They all had reading lights and alarm clocks, though, which were helpful.

I think we got only about 5 hours of sleep, because a man in our capsule area started talking loudly on his phone to what sounded like his mother. He would call and then hang up and then call again, and it just went on and on like that until Kyle and I decided to give up trying to sleep any more and went out to get breakfast. The breakfast place we went to actually had free wi-fi (fairly hard to come by in Japan, oddly enough). We were able to get a reasonably priced breakfast at this charming cafĂ©, served by a pretty and friendly waitress, for 600 yen (that's around $6). Good times! After breakfast we decided that we would head to Kyoto and save Osaka for later . . . Find out what happened in part 2!        


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