10:45am: hammercock wants to hit both Nara and Osaka, much to my disappointment. Osaka is not the place you want to spend less than half a day in. And the more time we spent in Nara, the less time we spend in Osaka. And I was hoping to catch a Japanese baseball game. It's like saying that you have 4-6 hours to visit Manhattan. *sigh* Frakkin' Buddhist shrines.
10pm: Scratch what I said about Buddhist shrines. They were worth it. We're chilling on the third floor in Osaka, where they play "Easy Rider" in Japanese. We're chilling after finding a hole-in-the-wall okonomiyaki place. Once again, it took a while to convey a vegetarian dish in Japanese. But more on that later.
We reached the main temple in Nara where a giant Buddha laughs at me. It is the largest statue of Buddha ever. The enlightenment continued as a wooden pillar had a small hole through. The goal is to go through the narrow passage to achieve enlightenment. After days of intense walking, Japanese food, and lots of sweating, I dropped enough to go through. For me, enlightenment is gratitude for the place I'm in with the people I'm with. I'm a little drunk at the time of writing this, so Todeiji is the name of the temple (I think). THe thing about Nara is that man and deer walk the streets. The deer loaf and have been domesticated to the point of staying near temple or building grounds and are normally docile...until you buy a pack of rice crackers. Then they pounce. I think I got sodomized by a buck. The antlers hurt. hammercock bought me ice cream for my troubles. The station was around 2km from the shrine, so we walked it. Busy place for a relatively small town.
It wasn't until around 3pm that we hit Osaka. We went to the top of the Sky Tower and saw the entire city. It was a giant observatory also used for weddings. At that point, I was pissed because I ran out of tape for my video camera. Fortunately, hammercock took a great panoramic shot of the area. We took a taxi to practically the other side of the city where the Osaka-jo grounds were. The castle itself was closed but the surrounding parks (and moat) were open. Fortunately, hammercock took many photos during a gorgeous sunset.
By then, it was 6pm. We've been walking kilometers with only drinks to sustain us. It soon became the search for food and love hotels. We went to the Entertainment District where an arcade several blocks long resides. Hammercock had an inkling for okonomiyaki. Can't blame her. It took a while, but we veered into the just-as-busy side streets of the arcade to spot an okonomiyaki spot/bar.
NOTE: There is a bit of discrimination against Gaijin. My first on this trip. You see Japanese restaurant/shop owners handing out coupons and flyers. The second they see us, they hide the coupons away, almost like "No sale for you."
The okonomiyaki joint was full of smoking businessmen with two ladies running a small kitchen and bar. The griddle they used was right in front of us. With the smoke, my left eye refused to open. There was definitely the look of "Are you sure you weren't looking for McDonald's." Once again, we are reminded that vegetarianism and a non-smoking environment are privileges in this country. The food was good, though. Still looking for a love hotel. It's not like you can easily ask around.
1am: Oh...my...God!!! Thank you, Hotel Pamplona! Here's how it works:
(1) Wander the Entertainment District until you see motels that sound or look themed.
(2) Go in where there is a panel of rooms available to choose from (including Winnie the Pooh).
(3) Select room from panel (in our case, a S&M dungeon).
(4) Get key from hole in front desk for discretion.
(5) Go to said room and marvel at chains, toys sold in vending machines, mirrors, and free Japanese digitized porn (they never show vagina on TV).
(6) Use your imagination ;)
(7) Soak in a real Japanese bathtub as part of the room.
(8) If you only have the room until midnight, get last minute stuff (like vibrators) and head to the front door.
(9) Pay front desk.
(10) Walk out with sense of accomplished euphoria.
We were lucky to make the last trains to Kyoto, but Osaka was more than all good.