Sunday, 21 September 2014

Chuseok | Osaka Day 1

Chuseok, or rather, 추석 is the Korean thanksgiving/harvest festival that takes place over the course of 3 days on the "15th day of the 8th lunar month". It's a national holiday, so this year it fell on the 8th of September, conveniently giving us an extended weekend from the 6th to the 10th.

We actually didn't realise that Chuseok was coming up until someone at Nick's school asked about his plans for the holiday, so we jumped to work and booked a holiday to Osaka about a week or so before we actually flew out. I'm so amazed that my time in Korea is giving me the opportunity to do these crazy last-minute ventures.

We flew out on the 6th, and because time is wibbly wobbly and even more so when it comes to time zones, I sent out a birthday "card" to my Nan while we were waiting for the airport bus. Ahhh, technology.

I really enjoy airports. There's actually a lot to do in Incheon airport, and they've really worked hard to make it look good so it's not just a big grey boring building. We'd been warned about crazy Chuseok traffic, so we'd left really early to be safe...and encountered no more traffic than usual. So we ended up with quite a while to spare.

I've decided I must be the reincarnated form of the God of Lost Things, because I swear at least once a month I find something important that someone's lost, from cellphones to bank cards, and this time it was a passport with boarding passes inside, just sat on the floor. We handed it to a member of staff and they disappeared for a while, but ended up just coming back and putting it on a table next to where we found it. Uh. Okay then.

Waiting rooms.
We flew with Peach, an airline with overpoweringly magenta branding. The plane exterior and some of the interor upholstery is various shades of bright pink and purple, the airline attendants wear magenta uniforms, and even the airline safety materials are the same shade of Barbie pink. (Confusingly, nothing is actually PEACH coloured.)

Calpis. Funny to say, yummy to drink.

We got to the airport, which was lovely, asked for some directions from the tourist information booth who annotated a map for us and let us have a little paper crane as a souvenir. Also, cue ANIME EVERYWHERE.

In Japan, ergo: anime.

Another thing I saw, that I hadn't noticed in Fukuoka so I don't know if there's just more need for it here or what, was "women only" sections in the train stations. Sections of the platforms restricted to women, and whole carriages that are for women and ONLY women. It's a nice addition for safety that I think more places could benefit from, but then again it's sad that it's necessary in the first place.

I'd missed the crazy busy subway ads. And yay, our boy TLJ with our firm favourite: Boss coffee.
When we got to Shin-Osaka station (pretty easily, I'll add), we were met by our host Anna and she drove us to where we'd be staying. She was lovely and I'm sad the drive wasn't longer so we could talk to her some more!

She showed us around the room before letting us get some sleep. It's an adorable place, really nicely decorated and comes with everything you'd ever need for a short stay. This was our first experience with AirBnB and I have to say it was a very positive one.

We were even given a few little snacks in the fridge, a little portable wifi router for us to take around during our stay (which was SUPER useful and I'd totally recommend hiring one for any of your future holiday destinations. You can get them at most airports for a reasonable price.), and an arrangement of more paper cranes that were free to take.

It was quite late and we were surprisingly tired, so we opted for dinner, a look around, and bed.
Of course we had tonkotsu ramen for dinner. Our absolute favourite. I'd forgotten that there's usually a machine that you use to order your food. You put your money in, press the buttons of the things you want (a bit like a vending machine) and it'll spit out some tickets for you to hand over to the chef who'll cook it up right then and there. Nice and speedy. Well, if you can read Japanese. It took us so long to work the machine (the touristy ones we'd used in Fukuoka had been digital with an English option) that really we might as well have just told the guy what we wanted, especially as he'd had to help us read the buttons by asking where things were in the first place.

So good. As in, "I am definitely going to eat this so quickly that my mouth will be burnt" good. Nng.

Afterwards, we took a look around the local area and found a relatively large arcade, with our favourite Taiko Drums game right by the door, so of course we had a game or two.

A lot of the claw machines we saw featured Attack on Titan prizes <3
We ventured upstairs and found these cool-looking pods that you get into and inside there is a chair, some handles, a headset and a big white wall. Now, I've watched enough anime to recognise those handles. They're the steering wheel mechanism for most Gundam-style mechs you see around. Sure enough, we put some money in, and after a confusing stumble through the menus and backstory dialogue, the screen went a blinding white before revealing the interior view from a large mech.

It was THE coolest setup I've ever seen. The other characters shout various things at you in Japanese, presumably meant to help you if you were able to understand it. Although what I got from it is you steer the thing around and hit the other giant smashy robots you see using either of the triggers on the handles, which have different weapons depending on what you select.

It was a bit overwhelming, but really fun even though I had no idea what I was doing, and I'm sad we don't have anything like this at home or even in Korea. Booooo.

Before long, we were sleepy and worried about wasting all our spending money in an arcade, so we decided to head back.

But not before grabbing a pack of real Osakajin-made takoyaki. Mmm.

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