Tuesday, April 10, 2012

There's No Garden in the Floating Garden: Exploring (Lost in) Umeda

So a lot happened at once, and I didn't have time to blog in between them...so here comes a lot of blog posts! Yay! Let's rewind to last Friday. Wait. Let's rewind even further to when I was biking home from the movies, because I forgot to mention something. When I was biking on the hazardous hill by school, I (and all the other bikers mind you) got stopped by the equivalent of a drunk driver police checkpoint....for bicycles, because there is so little crime in Japan, this is what they do. Its not for drunkenness, its for bike registration checks. And of course, because it was nighttime, I had my headphones in both ears when I was coming home (when I bike to the station during the day I usually put in one ear, because it really is dangerous), so the guy told me it was dangerous and things and I say sorry etc.

At this point, he compliments me on my skill with Japanese. Seriously, you need no skill for them to say that, I said I'm sorry when I bumped into someone in Tokyo, and he replied with you're skilled in Japanese. Really. So anyway, he asked me if I was a student and sent me on my way. I'm glad I remembered to turn my bike light on, haha.

So anyway, back to last Friday. Pictures. I also took some pictures on the way to Umeda Station (which is the huge station that is the center of Osaka) because I haven't done that yet. I also haven't really explored Osaka completely yet, so I decided to start with the station once I got there....hence the pictures.

The irony of these pictures is that once I get to the top of the station and take pictures of the fun buildings, I took a picture of the building I was trying to get to without realizing it. Oh joys of hindsight...

So I leave from the correct exit of the huge station to head towards Umeda Sky Building, home of the Floating Garden Observatory, which sounds pretty cool right? So I read the map, and follow the people towards what was the correct direction....until I saw a big pile of construction and got very confused. This caused a colossal detour in the wrong direction. When I got to the Loft (big store) I knew I was in the complete wrong part of the district. So I go in the store (I wanted to buy something from there anyways...a stapler that doesn't need staples) and when I left I asked the lady at the direction desk where I was. She pulled out the map showing how far off I was, and I headed back to the station to go the proper direction.

Let me explain my definition of lost. I have never actually been lost as in completely, I have no idea where I am lost. I always know where I am; I am just not where I want to be. It's a very frustrating lost. So once in Hankyu stations (did I mention there are 3 huge station dept store complexes in the center of Osaka?) I found a really detailed map. Yay! Why these are in short supply, I don't know. Nara and Tokyo have them everywhere. I check the map, and to get to the building I need to go in an underground tunnel. Underneath the construction. So I was going the right way before! Ugh.

So I finally get to the freaking building, and then I have confusion as to how to get to the top floor, because when there's an observatory on an office building / store place, there's usually a special elevator. It took me a bit to see the obvious sign (in English too) pointing in the correct direction, but I finally get there, and go up this awesome escalator to the top of the observatory (it was at this point I started to realize the Floating Garden Observatory has no garden......why it has that name I don't know). The top floor was outdoors, so it was very nice to take pictures without having to dodge the window.

Afterwards, I went to the basement to see the Showa period (old Japan) themed restaurant section. It was really cool looking, but unfortunately I was there a bit too early for dinner, so I decided to explore the other two stations, Hankyu and Hanshin, to familiarize myself with them, while finding somewhere to pick up some food. I ended up going to the equivalent of a fast-food in Japan, where you literally order, eat, and leave so someone else can sit, so on the way home I stopped at Mister Donut so I could relax a bit. Quite a Friday I must say.



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