Getting to Osaka, pachinko and tapas for dinner
TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE
(Sara) It’s now 4am and we’re getting ready to go to Osaka, one of Japan’s more modern cities. Hopefully the train serves breakfast. The shuttle to the station leaves at 6:30 and hopefully, we’ll get there by 1:00.
We managed to get our way back to the train station in Narita. However, getting on the train proved to be a little bit more difficult. We went up to the ticket counter and asked for a ticket to Osaka. She said "7:44" and we said "okay." Then we looked at our watches which said "7:40." Uh-oh. We ran through the station with luggage in tow and got to the train at 7:44, just in time to see the train in the distance. First Japanese lesson, trains are on schedule, to the minute. Back to the ticket counter and got a ticket for the next one in 30 minutes. This was actually our 3rd ticket, as the very first one I didn't mention was for the wrong originating station. Good thing we have the Japan Rail Pass and we can get as many tickets as we want (or need!) for free.
We arrived in Osaka in approx 3 hours. The train ride was great, at first it was a bit unnerving because we were going so fast! It was like a constant roller coaster without the ups and downs. The Japanese people sure do know how to make a train go fast. They put Amtrack to shame.
We checked into our hotel, the Il Cuore, a very cute boutique style hotel right in the middle of the Namba area. The Namba area is the entertainment and nightlife capital of Osaka.
A snapshot of the inside of our room. It was very nice, but small. To give you a perspective on the size of the room, the beds are both against walls.
We dropped off our bags and hit the streets. It was so amazing. Not only do they have a huge area of stores, restaurants, Pachinko parlors, and karoke bars on the street, they have a whole different city undergound!
We grabbed a quick bite to eat at a local establishment. I just kept saying "chicken" and they eventually caught on when I flapped my arms like a chicken. Todd ended up with a pork dish. Both of them were very good.
Then we decided to play this Japanese game of Pachinko. There were Pachinko parlors lined all down the street with large neon signs and lots of action going on inside of them.
Pachinko is the Japanese equivalent of American slot machines. It's sort of like a pinpall machine and you just keep shooting these small round little metals balls. Every time a ball went through a special gate, it played 3-of-a-kind cards on the video monitor. If you get 3 of a kind, you get into the bonus round. I apparently made it into this bonus round, and then didn't know what to do. Luckily, the guy next to me smiled and said "You lucky." I like to be lucky so I smiled back. Then a lady behind me said "Go Go Go" as I was apparently wasting my bonus time. So I just kept hitting the button for the balls to be played. Then, I got a downpouring of little Pachinko balls. Todd had to run and get 2 more containers as it appeared there was no end in sight!
Eventually, my "luck" ran out. I had 3 large containers full of Pachinko balls, and no idea what to do with it. Luckily for us, we're the only Americans in sight and there were plenty of people amused by us and willing to help out. So, then we began the quest to turn in all of our Pachinko balls. A man who worked there came over to help us. We picked up our baskets and brought them over to a ball counter. We dumped them in and it counted them all up, much like a coin counter. Then it spit our a receipt. He then motioned for us to follow him and he took us over to the Redemption area. Here we handed over our receipt to the lady behind the counter. She then handed me 3 pieces of candy. I was trying to hide my disappointment on my face as I thought I'd at least get my 1000 yen ($8) back that I put in the machine. Then she handed me these Legos. Great, I thought to myself, what a great parting gift. At least I had a good time I thought to myself. Then, the man motioned for us to follow him again. He took us outside and to a new lady behind a different counter. He motioned for me to give up my winnings to the lady. Perplexed by this strange string of events, I complied. (However, when I put the legos and the candy down, he waved his hands "no.") Apparently, I should have just put the Legos down, as I "won" the candy and the Legos were a "gift." I then received about 7500 yen (about $70) and got to keep my candy winnings. YEAH! I learned that technically gambling is illegal in Japan and so this is the run around that all the Pachinko parlors use to get people their winnings. It was a really great time.
We took our modest winnings and went to have a nice dinner. We found a great tapas bar and ordered about 5 different things.
Cheese fondue, a beef dish, Japanese pizza, Japanese hot dogs in croissants, and a fish dish for Todd. It was all very good. We were so tired by the end of it that we crashed as soon as we got back to our hotel. We had had a wonderful first day in Osaka.