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O Fim duma Viagem

Adventurer's Tea

JAPAN | Thursday, 28 January 2016 | Views [421]

On Saturday, I decided to take a train into Umeda.

I’ve been talking a bit about “living in Osaka,” which is a slight exaggeration. Not quite as great as the exaggeration I make when I say I live in Chicago, but it is true for similar reasons. For anyone outside of Japan, “Osaka” is more than specific enough for them to know where I am. For anyone who has never lived near Osaka, in fact, “Osaka” is still a fine description of where I am. It’s only if you start getting into people who live in the city proper that they might take umbrage to that description. But even if they do… it’s a single train ride of around 10-15 minutes. It counts as being part of the same city.

With that in mind, it’s a little surprising that it took me over a week of being in Osaka to make the solo journey to Umeda. I and everyone else in the car I was in stepped out into the station. Or at least a part of it. Umeda Station is huge. As someone on the programme had advised, NEVER agree to meet someone at that station. You'll never see them again. Even if you both have phones and are texting each other.

I stepped out and looked to see what exits existed. (Nice thing about Umeda: the signs are in English or romaji as well as kanji.) Ooh, that was a sky walk. That looked exciting.

I followed it and ended up in a mall. And then there were escalators, so I took them up. And up.

Then the escalators ended and there was a flight of stairs, so I took those, and then did the only non-backtracking thing I could do and took the door out. There were nice views, and another set of stairs. I took those, and just stopped to look around. I like cities that give me easy, free, and elevator-less rooftop views.

City

It was also tranquil. There were just enough people there to reassure me that I was allowed to be here, but not enough to be loud or annoying. There were speakers playing instrumental music, and it was just overall a nice ambiance. I suspect I'll go back there a lot.

I left and went down and down and down to the ground floor, and breathed in the city.

When people talk about going somewhere to take a break or relax or something like that, they usually mean “nature.” For some, it might seem bizarre that I find a large city relaxing. But I do. There are people and energy and activity and it's so invigorating.

For the first time since leaving Paris, I actually heard musicians on the street.

After wandering around aimlessly for a while, I started getting overwhelmed by all the kanji and new buildings, and decided that I should find something specific to head for. It occurred to me that I wanted to find my Coworkshop, a kissaten in Osaka that I could head to. But for right now, without any idea of where that would be, I headed towards the only thing I did know existed in the area: Mariage Frères.

Mariage Frères is the store I would go to to buy tea when I was in Paris. They also have locations in Osaka and, since I can always use more tea, it seemed like a good place to head to.

I had the location marked on my phone, which also had a GPS. So it should have been easy to find. In reality, the Google maps information was missing important information like what floor the store was on, so it wasn't easy.

It took me a while of wandering around outside and walking back and forth over the star. Finally, I found my way into the building. And I was standing right on top of the star and not knowing where to go from there. (Video games have led me astray. I'm looking at you, Kirby.) I had two options: a bank or a high end department store. Department store seemed way more likely.

As I was looking at the map, a woman showed up to ask if I needed help. Given this is one of the few times I've been in a store and known exactly what I want, I should have said yes. Instead, I panicked, said no, grabbed a flier, and joined the line for the escalator up. Wrong move.

The escalators kept going, though eventually the people thinned out a bit. And so I watched as the floors passed. Handbags. Cosmetics. Hair. Clothes. Food court. (On the top floor. Strange.) And then what appeared to be an exhibit hall or something. It was odd.

Doll

But no tea.

I worked my way back down, not using the main escalators, but instead the smaller ones to the sides. This brought me through the store, allowing me to see what was for sale, and for what prices. I don't think I'm likely to come back there for non-tea shopping. (Coming back for tea shopping requires finding the store…)

I left, went back outside, looked at the address again, looked at the website, looked around the website for a while before I could finally find that store, (despite having two stores, Osaka is merely listed as “another city” in Japan and doesn’t get a subheading of its own) and saw that it was in the basement of the building I’d been in earlier. So back I went. After passing several unrelated tea stores, I saw a sign for Maison du Chocolat (which also called back memories of Paris) and then Mariage Freres. Success!

The moral of this story is that if you want to find a specific store in Osaka, do not go in unprepared. (Also, I want it to be noted that on the way back, I didn't even need to leave the building to catch a train back to my apartment. This is all an extension of the Umeda train station.)

It’s overwhelming, but in a good way.

Tags: city, doll, skyline, tea, train, umeda

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