Saturday, January 23, 2010

Weekend in Osaka: Day 3

Thankfully I woke up feeling better on the last day (Jan. 11) of my trip than I had felt on the previous days. After checking out of the hotel I headed to the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine. I hadn’t initially planned to go, but seeing as that long weekend just happened to be the Toka Ebisu Festival (Jan. 9-11), I thought I should take advantage of the chance to see what it was all about.

Immediately upon exiting the subway station I could see paper lanterns hung up on arches along the sidewalks. As I got nearer to the shrine, I could see the familiar festival “booths” lining the streets. Unfortunately, since I was still feeling a bit sick, much as I wanted to try some of the food, I didn’t buy anything because I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it.

At the shrine, people were tossing old (presumably from the previous year) bamboo branches into big containers designated for that purpose and buying new ones. It was interesting to see the different types and numbers of things people decorated their bamboo with: carps, small boxes, etc. etc. I wanted to ask someone to explain what exactly the different items symbolized (some were obvious, but others not so much so) and to explain more about the festival in general, but I was too embarrassed to ask. Well, that and they all looked really busy, so I didn’t want to be a bother.

Anyway, after looking around the shrine grounds and taking pictures, I walked around the streets just taking in the festival atmosphere for a while (although since it was still fairly early, it wasn’t all that busy and many booths were still in the process of getting set up). I was quite surprised by the amount of garbage along the streets. Whenever there's a festival in Towada, it's always really clean. Even in Hiroshima during the Flower Festival in May the streets were pretty much clear of garbage. (I guess that's probably because 1) Towada is a small city; and 2) Hiroshima had a street clean-up campaign during the festival--you could get a free eco bag).

Anyway, once I got tired of walking around it was off to Shin-Osaka Station. (In my original itinerary I had planned to visit the Waterworks Memorial Hall but really that was just meant to be a time-filler so I decided to skip it.)

At the station I bought omiyage and takoyaki cream puffs!! The cream puffs didn’t taste like takoyaki, they were just made (with chocolate sauce, some sort of candied red fruit) to look like it. Unfortunately they only sold them in boxes of 8 (like real takoyaki, I guess), so I ended up inviting a friend to come over that evening to help me eat them. =P

Originally I was scheduled to leave Osaka at around 3pm and to return to Towada around 10pm, but I was tired so I got my tickets changed for a departure around 12pm so I could be back around 7pm. And that was the end of my weekend in Osaka. ^_^

Even though I was satisfied with the trip, I wouldn’t mind going back to Osaka again sometime. Since I was there for such a short time I was only able to see things in the city centre. If I could have, I would’ve liked to have gone to some of the museums/sites a little further out, like the Momofudo Ando Instant Ramen Museum (インスタントラーメン発明記念館) (Ikeda), the Osaka Takoyaki Museum (大阪たこ焼きミュジアム) (Universal Studios), the Historic Park of Ikegami-Sone Ruins (史跡池上曽根遺跡) (Ikegami Town, Izumi City), and the Open Air Museum of Old Japanese Houses (日本民家集落博物館) (Toyonaka City).

*sigh* That is actually a lot of places, now that I look at it. And here I was telling myself that I just needed to get Osaka checked off on my “place-to-visit” list.

[Edit: Forgot to mention, you can see all my Osaka pictures in my Facebook album:]