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Mark's World Tour 2007-08

Day 164: Tokyo to Osaka

JAPAN | Thursday, 17 April 2008 | Views [643]

Thursday 17th April

I must have been more tired than I realised as I didn't get up until after 09.00. I had forgotten that I needed to go out to Narita Airport to look for the gift for Kumi that I had bought in Hanoi. I wasn't sure how I had misplaced it or where it was but I tried to call the airport to see if they could help before I made the hour-long journey out to look for it in person. The recorded message that I received was, of course, in Japanese, and which I couldn't understand, so there was no other option than to take the train out and see if I could recover it myself.

In the end, it didn't turn up, the girls at the information desk not able to give me the answer I wanted to hear. This detour also meant that I was running behind schedule and I knew that I would be late for my meeting with Pete in Osaka. There is a distance of almost 600kms between Tokyo and Osaka but, fortunately, the shinkansen (or 'bullet train') was taking me there and it would take precisely three hours in total. The trains themselves are very comfortable with lots of leg room and space to walk about if you want to stretch your legs. It was quite exciting to be on a train that was guaranteed to be punctual, let alone one that was quick.

I arrived in Osaka at 17.03, bang on schedule (late trains are virtually non-existent in Japan from what I was told). I took the subway to the Namba district of Osaka and Pete was there to meet me (altough I was regretfully half an hour late). It was great to see him again, having last seen each other in Siem Reap in Cambodia in March. After waiting for his friend Kumi to finish work, we had dinner at an izakaya – basically the Japanese take on a pub – and which serves food dishes in a fashion that is to tapas. We ordered a load of food: sashimi, yakitori, noodles, rice, and a few other dishes that the guys thought I should try. Learning a bit more about Japanese food was high on my list of priorities and Pete and Kumi seemed more than happy to educate me.

After a very enjoyable couple of hours, we headed back to Kumi's flat and chatted some more. I felt very lucky to be staying with friends – both made on this trip – and it was all very comfortable and relaxed. Pete and Kumi made me feel very much at home, and I even had my own room for the duration of my stay with them. It was a very welcome change after spending several months living in assorted hostels, guesthouses and hotels.


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