Thursday, April 5
Don't Pay For This Tour

Spent the morning playing with Dean. There is a lot of fascination to be had in dropping pebbles in a tub of water. Hours of fascination, actually.

One more "guys night" into Osaka for John and Stephen. We walked to the train station and saw that the cherry trees were finally in bloom after enjoying three straight days of sunshine. I'm glad I get to see it before I have to leave - the cherry blossoms in Japan is something I've wanted to see for a long time.

Waiting for the train, John showed me the local video store he frequents. Full seasons of X-Files (including episodes that aren't even on video in Canada yet), ER, 90210, Ally McBeal and Knight Rider.

The subway line completely blows my mind. There are several lines in Osaka including a central hub line that is the train equivalent of a British roundabout. One line that just goes in a circle, connecting all the lines. The problem arises when you find a map with no English translations on it and you try to figure out how much to pay. Unlike our transportation system where you pay 2 bucks to go a block or to go across Toronto, Japans lines charge you for how far you go. A ticket is bought for how far you have to go (that's where the map comes in handy - it tells you how much it costs to get from A to B), you travel, put your ticket in the turnstile at the end of your journey and it makes sure that you paid enough to get to where you are. You can add on money before exiting incase you went further than your ticket allows or you pay the maximum amount if you lost your ticket in your travels.

We went back to the HMV and I managed to keep my purchases down to 10,000 yen. I bought a New Order Live CD that I haven't seen before (but probably does exist in some form in Canada), a double-CD set of Green Day EPs exclusive to Japan and a Japanese Techno Mix CD.

John's homesick stomach needed grease to settle it. He convinced me to go with him to the Hard Rock Cafe Osaka. Along the way I finally got to see a beer vending machine (which they're trying to phase out in part because of the 2008 Olympic bid). From close observation of the people around me I also spotted how to buy drugs the next time I'm around that area. Dealers ride bikes and are periodically stopped by buyers. Looks silly at first, but you have to admit that making a get-away is a lot easier on two wheels than with a pair of Air Jordans. Maybe that's what Queen is really singing about in their "Bicycle" song?

No Hard Rock Cafe. Demolished to build a new Ball Stadium as part of (again) the 2008 Olympic Bid. My support is starting to move to Istanbul.

We wandered through America Town - a cheesy rip off of American Stars-and-Stripes pride. The sad thing is that as loud and unattractive as the area is, it really doesn't look a whole lot different than many shops in the USA.

We passed a number of restaurants that I was sure we could eat in, but John assured me that few of them have food and atmosphere as palatable as the outside appearance is. We ended up in a Spanish restaurant named "Uncle Steven's". We had a big five course meal, but in the background was all Country music. And I'm not talking about Garth Brooks rockin' New Country. I'm talking about the "wife left, dog died, Chevy broke down" kinda Country music. It was so depressing that the fifth course should be a bottle of sleeping pills and a mickey of tequila.

There was a dance club that looked interesting, but after walking and walking and walking to find someplace to eat, the big meal in our bellies and the "Tear In My Beer" music we just couldn't get ourselves psyched up to go. Not a tremendous loss - it's not like I could pick up anyway.

How do you say "Would you like my email address?" in Japanese?

Filling our pockets with canned Cafe au Lait's we made the trip home and rested our exhausted feet.