I chose this weekend to head out of the city, which of course means it’s going to rain Friday night and all day Saturday. Seriously, it’s raining right now.
I finished classes and went back to the dorm, loaded up my duffel, and started for the station on foot… but when the Meitetsu bus came along, I gladly boarded. A couple bucks for a ride seemed like a bargain in this humidity. The first few drops of rain fell just as I entered the station. I struck up a conversation at the train station with a guy who’s working in Okazaki at Toyota, but who was also going to Osaka. (His girlfriend goes to Kansai Gaidai, but I didn’t recognize her name.) We rode and talked until Nagoya Station, where he stayed and I left to find my bus.
The rain was in full swing by that point, but I’d remembered to bring my umbrella. The bus stop — which wasn’t so much a bus stop as a street where buses stopped, meaning there was really nothing to wait under — was out the opposite entrance of Nagoya Station from where I usually exited. The bus itself was narrow, but comfortable enough. My seat was in the very back, and much like international flights, the seats ahead had TV screens — widescreen. They contained various things, including Sega Mega Drive games, which I briefly tried, and movies — including Captain America. I started watching the movie too late, so I missed the very end, but I figure it’ll still be playing on the way back. We stopped once at the Japanese equivalent of a truck stop, with a couple stores and facilities for tractor-trailers, buses, and families driving long distances — but that was it.
Arriving in Osaka happened before I knew it. I switched from the bus to the Osaka Loop Line, and made my way to Shin-Imamiya (which is also the name of my hotel). It’s apparently about five minutes from the Kintetsu line, which will come in handy tomorrow. The hotel’s night worker was waiting for me, courtesy of the helpful girl in the Yamasa office, and I paid for two nights. At this point, I wanted to do two things: unload my stuff and find something to eat. I splashed my way to a Lawson’s down the street and asked about nearby restaurants, but they had no real recommendation, so I headed out again… and found that someone had stolen my umbrella from in front of the store. I stayed in Osaka for a month last year, and no one ever stole my umbrella — and it rained a good bit then — but I was scarcely here for an hour and the first time I left my umbrella out in a stand, it was gone. I headed around to look for a pay phone and found an actual phone booth (which I haven’t seen back home in a while). I tried my friend Alyson first, but got no answer, so I tried my friend Satoshi. He actually picked up, and we spoke for a few minutes before all of my ten-yen coins ran out.
Across the street was a place called ほっかほっか亭、a walk-in place with Japanese food, so I gave it a try. I ended up ordering the “beef stamina bowl,” which was delicious (fried beef on rice with chopped green onions and fried regular onions). I had told the woman there about my umbrella, and before I left, she offered me a beat-up umbrella to use — restoring my faith in Japanese hospitality. (I’m pretty sure she wants it back eventually.) I stopped at the Lawson’s on the way back to buy a drink, and mentioned to the guy that while we’d been talking earlier, someone had stolen my umbrella from out front, and he also ran in back and got me one that someone had apparently left behind. He said I didn’t need to bring it back, and it’s actually bigger than my old one.
The room here is small and spartan, but absolutely sufficient, with a tiny bathroom-and-shower, an AC unit, and a real bed. I’m hoping to sleep well tonight. There’s a couple washer-dryer units on the tenth floor, so I threw my rain-soaked clothes in after dinner (followed by my shoes). Also, as you might have guessed, I learned that the internet here is free.
Tomorrow will be my time for heading back to my old area from last year, as well as a trip to Nipponbashi, then time with one or more friends. Right now, though, I’m tired and sweaty (the hotel lobby is kinda hot and humid), so it’s back to the room to cool off, dry off, and sleep.