I slept in Wednesday morning, though only in a relative sense; I was more or less awake by 10:30. The plan for the day was to head to 東大阪市 and immerse myself in memories of my first visit to Japan. Christian had nothing specific he wanted to do, so he chose to tag along.
The first stop, as always, was Kawachi-Kosaka Station. We headed down to the U-Community Hotel and stopped in the Aeon, then made our way to the walk-in onigiri shop I love so much. The owner actually remembered me, and seemed pleased I’d come back. I was excited; it had been four years since I’d eaten there. I got two 肉しぐれ onigiri — the last two, as it turned out — and happily devoured them. It had been worth the wait. The owner, whose name I finally found out was 大橋, even gave us each a bottle of tea on the house as we were leaving.
We spent the next hour or so walking: first the long way around to the station, via the Yaenosato Driving School and my first MOS Burger, then to Kinki University, using the old route. Well, as close to it as I could remember, anyway; I missed a turn but got back on track pretty quickly. I stopped at their English-only activity center, but knew no one. Their English-speaking staff told me that this year’s WVU students were there, but I knew they’d all be strangers.
The construction they’d been doing last year hadn’t gotten any better; I figure a quarter of the campus was in disarray because of it. I just wanted to say hello to the international office staff, but they were in a pocket inside the construction. The place was like a maze, making their new office very hard to find; I was ready to give up. We finally found the place with the help of one of the financial ladies, and I got to say my hello. According to the woman (who remembered me but whose name absolutely escapes me), the school has substantially ramped up its international relations (which may explain why 大村先生 was in Tokyo at the Australian embassy that day).
Christian and I finally managed to escape the 工事 labyrinth and made our way to Nagase Station. While we’d been exploring, he’d finally decided he wanted to go to Osaka Castle. I thought he meant to go in, but found out he just wanted photos of the area. We entered via the castle park, which I hadn’t seen before; five years prior, we’d approached from a different direction. The two of us walked all around the moat, enjoying the scenery, before heading back into the city.
At this point, I suggested we go back to the hotel and clean up before continuing, since I was sweaty and my feet hurt. Christian was all for that, so we detoured back to the Raizan to reset, so to speak. I hit the bath again, since I knew soaking would help my feet (which it did).
Once we’d washed off the sweat and changed into something clean, it was time to eat. I had already told Christian about Rich Garden, the American-style burger restaurant I’d visited the year before. He wanted to try it, so off we went. The place wasn’t too crowded, and the owner even remembered me. Christian ordered the cheese fondue burger, which came with a big cup of cheese dip (awesome), while I got the chili con carne burger again (though supplemented it halfway through with some of Christian’s leftover fondue). Afterward, we went down the street to visit Mandarake. They had a marvelous Range Murata/Last Exile artbook for a surprisingly reasonable price, but I couldn’t justify buying it.
Our last stop for the night was Doutonbori, which wasn’t far away. Christian had only been to Osaka once and hadn’t been there, so he was pleasantly surprised. He was mostly content to hang out on the main bridge and look at the scenery. I spotted some very pretty girls — Korean, we correctly guessed — taking photos. A couple smiles and a few words convinced them to come take pictures with us (but nothing else). After a while, I eventually convinced Christian to come to ドン・キホーテ with me to get some お土産. I was surprised to see that they had not only stocked stuff from Osaka, but Hokkaido, Nagano, and Kyoto as well, which meant they had my favorite: ほうじ茶 Kit-Kat. (I bought four boxes.) Satisfied, we again found a 鳥貴族 to get a drink or two, then went back to the hotel. Just like the night before, we made time to use the hotel bath before retiring to our rooms. I did some preliminary packing and finally collapsed into bed to sleep. Checkout was at 11:00.