Thursday, 25 September 2014

Chuseok | Osaka Day 2

We left Mako-chan at home to guard the apartment. He seemed pretty happy to do so.
We woke up and had a good lie-in (about 10am, oh how times have changed) before going out. We decided that we wanted this holiday to be a little bit more spontaneous and less hectic than the previous one, so we had a list of places we wanted to visit and a rough schedule but nothing set in stone.

A cute little drawing of a cicada near our building. I can only assume the writing says "HI, I'LL MAKE MAEMMAEMMAEM NOISES UNTIL YOUR EARS BLEED AND YOU GO INSANE"
I thought this looked too perfectly anime to NOT take a photo of.
We decided to go to the Osaka Kaiyukan, one of the world's largest public aquariums. I hadn't been to one in ages, so I was really excited.

So was Haru, so we brought him along for the ride.
 The ride from Shin-Osaka to the bay area was easy enough, and the huge aquarium was also pretty easy to find. With an incredibly tall ferris wheel right next door, the area as a whole is hard to miss.

Before going in we decided to have some breakfast (I guess technically brunch by this point) so we went into the little shopping complex nearby and headed for the food court.

We found a cat shrine. I'm not sure what we were supposed to do but I'll do anything to appease our inevitable furry overlords.
They have these localised trinkets everywhere. I love the Pokemon ones, but nothing is more hilarious than the Attack on Titan ones.
Finally, we went in. They scanned the little QR code on our tickets and sent us in, where we were greeted by a giant set of jaws and some craft tables where you could make various sea-themed souvenirs. We skipped this (and the desk where you could rent a virtual tour guide, including an interactive one for a Nintendo DS!) and went straight on into the first part: the tunnel.

These tunnels usually freak me out but there's something really cool about having things swim over you.

The aquarium is designed to recreate the environments found around the Pacific Rim, so a lot of the habitats are large and well-decorated to look just like the animal's home.

Sadly, we'd forgotten to take spare batteries with us and the camera died pretty quickly, so we had to make do with photos on our phones.

Under da sea~
These fish were overwhelmingly large.
I really couldn't get a photo that conveyed just how big these fish were. They apparently live in rivers too, so I would have expected something much smaller. There was one poor little girl that got a bit too scared when one swam right towards her, and had to run away crying.

The closest I could get was that this one is about twice the size of Nick's head. IT'S SO BIG. 
There were also a lot of tropical fish to "ooh" at.

I love the lighting in aquariums. Obviously, most of the light comes from inside (or above) the tank, so there's a lot of cool backlighting, and it's usually blue. It makes for some interesting photos and I wish I could have had the benefit of adjustable settings on the camera to play with.

One adorable thing that happened was seeing this little girl by the seal habitat. She had a hand fan and would wave it to different parts of the window, and this seal would follow it anywhere it went. They played together like this for quite a while and it was so cute.

We also encountered some of these terrifying crabs. I forget the name of them, but I'd only seen pictures online and had kind of never intended on seeing one in real life.

The mood was lifted a little by this little boy that climbed up and decided to crab-shuffle along with one of them. So funny.

Nightmare fuel.
There was also quite a reassuring display (one that I would kind of prefer to have at the entrance to the building) showing just how thick the glass is for each tank.

The big main tank in the centre holds 5,400 tonnes of water, and in general there's about 314 tonnes of acrylic glass in the whole place. The largest piece weighs 10 tonnes on its own and is about 5x6m in size. Hefty!

After finishing up in the aquarium - there were several more exhibits that I didn't take photos of, including sloths, otters, Rockhopper penguins and more - we headed to the Tempozan ferris wheel, which offered some really great views over the bay. I guess really we should have waited a tiny while longer to catch the sunset properly, but we had a pretty great afternoon glow anyway.

All around each cradle were little stickers that eventually lined up (kind of) with the various views they were labelling. 
I'm pretty proud of Nick for all of this, because when you're scared of heights, a Ferris Wheel isn't always the most reassuring way to go about conquering it.

Afterwards, we had a good amount of time for some more exploring, so we headed for DenDen Town, which is meant to be like a smaller-scale version of Tokyo's Akihabara area. Gadgets and anime galore! We found it easily enough, and were greeted...mostly by adult shops that confusingly just looked like they would sell anime and other DVDs. Oops.

We did however find a great little hobby store, and in one section it sold doll house furniture and scale rooms, which they demonstrated by populating them with anime figurines in various amusing scenarios.

There were also plenty of manga stores selling hundreds of different series as well as doujin. We found Otaku Street, where there was a multi-storey sort of anime/manga/figurine department store heaven. After scouring the shelves for anything I might want, and a difficult/fruitless miming session to ask for a Cardcaptor Sakura Nendoroid, I settled on a K-On! Figma of Yui Hirasawa because I think a) I'm most like Yui and b) I've always wanted something from Figma, and compared to the prices back home, 2000 yen is an absolute STEAL.

We came across a Taito Station, another big multi-storey games arcade but much bigger than the one back at Shin-Osaka. I saw a strange game where the aim seemed to be to literally flip a table with rage.

But our main squeeze here was a claw machine, giving out the promise of an Attack on Titan figurine. 6 plays for 500 yen wasn't bad, so we gave it a shot. I say 'we', it was Nick doing all the work. He just about managed to get it almost falling in, when we managed to get it stuck. Kindly, a member of staff saw, and not only fixed it for us but also told us HOW TO WIN THE FIGURINE.

Sadly, skills outweighed the advice and we just knocked it again. We tried a few more times, got it stuck, another member of staff came to help and once again, showed us the best place to knock it. It looked so simple. It had to fall soon. I could practically feel the attendants silently willing us on, half friendly, half pitying as they watched us fail again and again.

In the end, we got him, and it still turned out cheaper than if we'd bought it in a store and WAY cheaper than it would cost at home. The staff cheered, we cheered, two other tourists cheered (and asked us how much we'd spent. Answer: an embarrassing amount). Our trophy was bagged up and we almost won Mikasa with our remaining two tries, alas.

So now of course, I've tasted blood. I've got two figurines now. I've always wanted some but never got them due to a lack of space at home. I expect by next year I'll be drowning in the things.

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