Less than three hours ago (or perhaps more by the time I’m done writing this blog post), I finish my last exam for the semester! Potentially my last exam ever (!!!) because the electives I’m looking at right now don’t have exams as part of their assessments. I’m probably going to hate myself when crunch time comes around and I’m slaving away at massively weighted assignments or fighting every other scumbag law student like myself for class participation. Class participation makes tutorials go from teeth grindingly bad to jump-off-a-building awful because not only do you hate every one else who’s waving their arms in the air only to ask a stupid question, you’re filled with equal amounts of self-loathing too because you’re doing the exact same thing. But as bad as class participation is, exams are always the worst for me. Anyone who I’ve been in contact over the last couple of weeks can probably testify to how far down the pit of despair I fall in. But no matter, exams are done! And I figured what better a way to celebrate than to continue blogging about my Japan trip from December last year? Hopefully by the time I’m done with these posts I’ll be in Japan again. One of my closest exchange friends recently got accepted into the JET program where he’s going to be an assistant teacher in the Hyogo prefecture so I’d really like to go visit him, if not to see him then to eat my weight in Kobe beef. Anyway, on to Osaka.
The night before, we did our usual stroll in the basement of one of the department stores to pick up food. I’d already been salivating at all the slabs of mentaiko I’ve seen thus far on our trip so it was high time I acquiesced to one of my favourite foods in the world. I also needed something to spread it on so I grabbed a random bagel from the store across. I know it doesn’t look like much and certainly not Instagram worthy but I’m fairly sure I went to bed early and woke up around 5 am because I was that excited to have it for breakfast! No photos of schmearing it, it’s actually kind of gross looking once you stab through the sac membrane, kind of like pus. But man deliciously salty goodness just oozes out and.. no words. Michael, not sure if you’re reading this but I think I found a new schmear for Brooklyn Boy Bagels! Or at least Osaka Boy Bagels.
Can’t remember what else we did after besides walking around and letting my parents do their shopping but soon it was lunch time again and my stepdad insisted we retrace his steps from the last time he was in Osaka in search of this hole-in-the-wall oden shop.
Which turned out to be kind of like Mappen back in Sydney, just with a tonne more options and everything going for about 1 AUD. The oden component of the meal is further down the end near the cashier where sits a giant pot filled with all kinds of fishcakes and tofu. For some reason though I wasn’t allowed to take photos here so this is the only photo I actually have.
Finally got to use more useless Japanese that I’ve picked up from movies and anime. I ordered kitsune udon for both myself and my stepdad. Kitsune udon is your regular noodle in dashi stock fair except with the addition of a piece of fried tofu called aburaage. Kitsune actually means ‘fox’ in Japanese. This style of udon earns its name from a legend behind a Japanese fox that loves aburaage.
Warm soupy noodles are always a winter craving of mine. And I could honestly eat sheets and sheets of aburaage so sweet and texture abundant!
On the way to our next destination we stumbled into a large toy store with several storeys, kind of like Kiddyland in Tokyo.
Still on my mission to take picture with all obnoxiously large mascots and icons.
And now we’re here! My parents could not be more disinterested in Pokemon but after days of them dragging me around to look at their stuff, I had to return the favour by getting us here. As the generation that grew up watching, playing and speaking Pokemon for years, this felt like a pilgrimage visit. Did anyone else’s family make fun of them for knowing all 151 pokemon (back in the day) but not knowing XYZ syllabus at school? To be honest I think my knowledge on Pokemon has brought me further and allowed me to connect and speak to more people, which is far more than anything I learnt in primary school ever brought me.
The centre is everything I dreamed it would be. Rows and rows of plushies, random Pokemon-themed items like pillows and chopsticks and even gaming platforms. It doesn’t look like they have every single Pokemon but I was really surprised to see that they had exactly what I was looking for, for Elaine. A little Wailmer doll.
I heard you like mudkipz.
Obviously Pikachu is my spirit animal. If you have me on Instagram or Snapchat (@secretsundaes) you’ll know that in Sydney winter season I practically live in my giant Pikachu onesie. It’s just so incredibly warm, so comfy and the aesthetic of getting to look like my favourite Pokemon is the rare candy on the cake.
Fast-forwarding to dinner, we got to have kaiseki! Again at another restaurant at the top of a mall. Restaurants in shopping malls in Japan are so different to ones in Malaysia that are usually pretty average. And in Australia, you can’t even really find restaurant as they’re all cafes or food courts.
This was my epic feast. Not even sure what exactly everything is, but there’s sashimi, tofu, fish cakes, miso soup, chawanmushi, nimono dishes and tofu.
I think I went on a longer tangent about law, university and my exams in this post than on my actual Japan trip. But suffice to show in pictures, everything in Japan is awesome.