Day 11 — 8 August 2011
One of the most charming aspects of Ōsaka is how fiercely proud Ōsakans are of their city — always being happy to tell you why it’s superior to snooty Tōkyō or quiet Kyōto.
First stop on our first full day in Ōsaka was a small cafe/coffee shop I’d been recommended: in what was to become a running joke, the place was closed, but just as we were about to leave we were beckoned by the cafe’s upstairs neighbour. She was a pottery artist who’d lived and worked in London and Tōkyō, but had moved back to her hometown to set up her business. She felt as though she owed it to the place that made her, and why would she want to live in those other places anyway?
Having found pottery bowls but failed to find any breakfast to put in them, we decided to attempt another recommendation, the curio/gardening store and restaurant graf. In a much more successful turn of events we ate a delightful lunch (chicken curry and rice for me) before heading to the nearby science museum — a modest building opposite the ridiculous National Museum of Art — in order to take in a planetarium show. Don’t ask me why I wanted to go to the planetarium, the latest Astrophysicist in me must have been calling, but in we went and watched stars, planets, galaxies and nebulae fly over our heads for half an hour. It was not unpleasant.
After a little more exploration, we did what any self respecting tourist in Umeda would do and rode the HEP Five ferris wheel — situated on the 7th floor of the HEP Five shopping mall. It really does blow the London Eye out of the water, we rode it just before sunset and saw rooftop parties, congested train stations and cars rushing backwards and forwards through the narrow streets.
There’s plenty more cheesy touristy things to do in Ōsaka and I’m pretty sure we managed to do most of them, but that’s for another day.