I can’t believe how lucky I was to have three friends fly to Japan and spend New Year’s with me!
I arrived in Osaka very early on the morning of the 29th and went on a failed sento mission, before returning to the station to drink coffee and pick up Moe who had just got off a plane from Germany.
We made our way to the hostel and assessed the situation there. Turns out that the four beds in a seven bed dorm I had booked didn’t exist. Instead we had two beds and a mattress on the floor in one room, and a mattress on the floor in another room. Oh, yeah, and I would be sharing with an eight year old.
At least it was warm and clean and super central. Can’t complain really!
Moe and I went walking and hunted an onsen, as I still hadn’t showered since Tokyo and was feeling a little bus-grotty. My friend recommended a giant awesome sento called Spa World so we headed there to refresh.
I was so excited to get clean and relax in an onsen that I was devasted when I discovered a clause in the conditions of entry that said “strictly no tattooed persons”. I debated going in anyway, but since there were several signs stating this I decided they must be really serious about it. This was the first time I had ever had problems with my tattoos in a sento and I was a little upset. Mostly because it had been a really long time since I had showered.
We found another, smaller sento and enjoyed a nice soak, then grabbed some lunch. We wandered the streets for a while, and had a life-saving coffee, before heading back to the station to get Elle and Ju.
That night, we had a quiet dinner and an early bed because we were all totally wrecked. I was so happy to have so many awesome friends with me!
The next day we met up with Ju’s friends Rory, Trong and Chris and headed to the aquarium, and I was so excited! This was my second time and I was just as much of an overexcited child as last time.
We got some real Osaka okonomiyaki in the mall near the aquarium and it was super delicious eating straight off the hot plates.
This was, of course, followed by the giant ferris wheel. I love the Winnie the Pooh who sits in one of the pods being an awkward third wheel.
Next on the agenda was the sole purpose of Ju and Elle’s trip to Japan, and something I’ve been interested in for a while: a cat cafe.
A cat cafe is exactly what it sounds like; a cafe where you can go and drink coffee and pet cats. I’m not joking.
We paid 1050 yen for a cup of coffee and an hour with these heavily doped up cats. There were photo albums with the cats’ back stories, pictures of the cats on the walls, and various cat toys and hidey holes. It was incredibly strange, but it was a definite must for any real Japan experience.
After that we walked around until we found a nice izakaya which was then followed by the obligatory hour of karaoke before the boys had to head off and get their train.
The following day we slept in a little then went shopping on the shotengai. It was there that I made the best impulse purchase of my life. The four of us bought Japanese schoolgirl outfits, each in a different colour.
Best. Thing. Ever.
We spent the day just mooching around Namba and Dotombori, seeing the sights, sampling the tacoyaki and enjoying the sunny and freezing weather.
That afternoon Ju and Elle took a nap, while Moe and I skyped Reenz and Stella, then it was time to play dress ups. We got some pretty odd looks from the other guests at the hostel as we walked between our room and the bathroom, but they were good enough to take some photos of us.
We wandered around and found a nice izakaya, where we elicited many “kawaii”s from nearby patrons.
Purikura followed, obviously, and I had a quick new year’s phone call from home.
We then went on to do three of the messiest hours of karaoke that I’ve ever experienced. Nomihodai at the push of a remote button is a terrible idea.
We made it to bar Zero in time for midnight and I feel like I rang in 2012 in style: great friends, amazing outfits, and pockets full of purikura.
Happy new year!