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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Osaka One: Posted, November 26, 2015 Japan/Philippines Trip:

[NOTE: I have limited internet access in Japan, so these reports will be very far behind the reality. This was published in Tokyo at the end of my trip... after: Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Odawara, Nagano and Kusatsu. The best way to contact me remains through facebook. I write this blog from Niigata, on the Japan Sea Coast. About three weeks after the fact]


Anything that can go wrong WILL go wrong, --Murphy's Laws

Even if nothing can go wrong, it STILL will go wrong. --Board's Law

Osaka has a population of about 9 million people... bigger than New York, but only number 2 in Japan. Japan's Second City, is a sister city to Chicago, America's THIRD city.

We left off last time in Osaka... at the “office” of Screaming Mad George... actually an apartment with a bunch of stuff in it-- much of it mine. It's in the heart of the Osaka action area... on the fourth floor above a sushi bar.

I had a hotel reservation, but canceled it thanks to George's fine offer of his place. It's my accommodation in Osaka... a private apartment... my own place... free to wake up when I want and do that thing that boys do to help sleep at night-- if I can get my computer to connect to George's wifi.

My computer, that's the problem. Gone... vanished like a date when she finds out “everything.”

I had it in Korea... when I went to the fake “Internet Cafe.” Have I seen it since? I don't think so. I must have left it in the airport... gone.... Wait a minute! I used it in the hotel... where I canceled my reservation. I remember looking at it there...

George!” I say, “Remember when I looked for an address on the Internet... in the canceled hotel?”

He nods.

I think THAT'S where I left my computer,” I say. “Could you call them and ask-- in Japanese-- if it's still there?”

Interrupting some internet research of his own, George calls. In any other other country in the world that computer would be on eBay by now. But, this is Japan.

They have it,” George tells me, still holding the phone.“They want to know what time you'll come by and pick it up.”

Tell them the early afternoon, tomorrow,” I say. “I don't do mornings.

Around 3?” he asks... sooo Japanese.

Sure,” I say.

That settled, it's good night. George leaves. I plan to meet him, Yoshii and Junshuu early tomorrow. George has to teach (film, make-up techniques and other stuff... at the city art college... a quite famous school that his daughter has just started attending. Daughter??? attending??? Ouch!)

George meets me early and we go out for coffee and breakfast. On the way back to the apartment, I hear a voice behind me.

It's a shout, that sounds like “Mykel!”

So many things in Japanese sound like “Mykel” (For example, a geisha-in-training is called MAI-KO) I ignore the illusion of my name. Then I hear it again. Okay, who do I owe money to here-- and how did they find me?

It's Yoshii and Junshuu, just out of the train. I introduce everybody.

You don't look as scary in person as I imagined,” Yoshii tells George.

George laughs.

We go to an Osaka walking street and ask a passer-by to take a picture. No fukin' selfie fuckin' sticks for me! Part of the fun of picture-taking is the social intercourse involved in asking someone to shoot the snapshot. A fan of all kinds of intercourse, I ask George to ask some stranger to take our picture.

Can you say motley crew? (NOT Motley Crüe)... something like fellow passengers on Noah's ark.

Soon after George goes to work. Junshuu and Yoshii have plans for me... a museum with a Buson collection. A trip to the SKYWALK BUILDING, and a bunch of other exciting and Osakan things to do.

Great,” I say. “But I need your help with a few things first. It shouldn't take much time.”

Mochiron,” says Junshuu, “Nihongo hanashimo ii desuka?”

You're kidding,” I say.

He laughs and we switch to English.

(Proud note: today, in Niigata, I've been speaking Japanese 90% of the time. No choice, though-- and it won't last.)

I need to get a SIM card for my mobile hotspot,” “I tell them. “I also need to ask my cellphone company how to use the fuckin' phone, get a charger for my old cellphone. It has all my phone numbers... and then we've got to pick up my computer.”

Where is your computer?” asks Yoshii.

It's at the STEP INN, in shin-Osaka,” I say. “I left it there last night. Chotto baka-na.”

Shin-Osaka is pretty fuckin' far,” says Yoshii.

Your English had improved,” I tell him. “And you're right.

First stop: BIC CAMERA... which-- since 1989-- I thought was BIG GAMERA.

We can take care of most of the electronic needs here. A charger for my phone, a last decade Motorola flip phone... no problem. Yeah, right.

Yoshii asks a saleslady... one of those uniformed girls in every department store... trained to speak in a Mickey Mouse voice. She refers us to a male expert, about 20 years old... probably a college part-timer, earning extra yen on the side.

Yoshii and Junshuu explain the problem and we go to the electrical charger section. I'll translate:

How 'bout this one?” says the sales guy picking up a charger. We look at the phone... no go.

And this?”


How 'bout this one?”

It looks good. They discuss it in Japanese, I don't understand anything except CHOW CHOW, which is Osakan for WRONG!

The guy gives up with a shrug. We go to another store. And another. And a fourth. Finally one of the salesmen suggests getting a battery charger, instead of a power cord... In other words, take the battery out of the phone and charge it separately.

Good idea!

My phone battery fits none of the chargers.

Time passes.

We return to Bic Camera.

We find the same guy who helped us the first time. Explain the new solution... BANG! He's there with a multi-battery charger that'll fit my camera battery as well as the cellphone battery... and anything else with a flat battery that has some gold squares on the side. DEED DONE!

Then it's the PORTABLE HOTSPOT. That should be easy. T-Mobile sent me the unlock code so all we need is a new chip and BANG... we're set. Yeah right.

We'll sell you a chip,” says the salesman in the phone department. “But it probably won't work. There are no refunds.”

I don't think so.

We go somewhere else.


A third place


Time passes.

We try another place.

And another.

Finally we find a place nice enough to let us try a sample SIM to check the UNLOCK directions... it doesn't work.

Fuck it!” I say, “I'll connect when I can. Let's go get the computer.

By now, it's around 4PM. We planned to pick up the computer by 3. After the subway to Shi-Osaka, we spend a half hour looking for STEP INN.

No luck.

I have an idea,” I say.

I can see that Uh-oh look crossing their faces.

We know that the hotel is near the station,” I continue, pretending not to notice their concern.

Why don't we start here and just walk in ever increasing circles... uzumaki.. That way we can't miss it.”

They look at each other, telepathing Is he serious? in Japanese.

I start spiraling from my place in the station. Yoshii grabs the back of my shirt collar and pushes me toward the door. I feel like I'm reliving my lesbian bar adventures.

We walk out of the station. Stop in a FAMILY MART convenience store and find the hotel around the corner. My computer is ready and waiting for me.

Okay,” I say. “Time for Buson.”

Sorry Mykel,” says Yoshii. “It's too late for Buson. He's closed. Besides, we have a date for the first Drink Club Osaka... in ….....” I couldn't understand what he said. But we were off again. Back into the subway. Off to someplace... a row of sky scrapers.

We pass an incredible looking building. Tall with a giant hole through the top, like a HELLO KITTY eye-- on heroin..

Through the building top you can see a network of crossed staircases, random beams... metal bars... Blade Runner style.

Wow,” I say, “what is that? It's incredible.”

It's Skywalk,” says Yoshii.Foreigners love this building,”

You don't like it?” I ask.

He laughs.

No, I mean it's popular... with everybody... like the Empire State Building... only more modern. It's a tourist attraction.”

Let's go,” I say... pointing up. “We CAN go, can't we?”

He shrugs, smiles, and we go in. Each of us pays 1500Y for the privilege of taking an elevator to the top.

Most of my pictures of the building, as well as the views from there, you can see by clicking on the image below. We're there for sunset, which is a great slight from so high up in Osaka.

Skywalk Building Osaka

Since Double Entendre is my middle name, I'm especially impressed by the sign at the END of the Skywalker Skytour. Sounds like the end of many of my late night adventures:

I didn't try to explain the double entendre to my hosts, but lo and behind... I don't need to. There's another sign... in the building... right after this one and before the elevator...

But if it's really a place of love... you'd be able to enter again... that's what I think.

From the Skywalk tour we go to the basement for Okonomiyaki. Ah, Osaka without okonomiyaki would be like a beer binge without the morning beershit... just not complete!
Yeah, it's the real stuff... it MOVES when you eat it. Many of my favorite things to put in my mouth MOVE when they get there.

Then to the city center, to be photographed with GLICA!! He's the town superhero who NO ONE is allowed to leave without being photographed with.

Ah, after a day half wasted with stupid electronics. The rest spent with great friends, with great plans for me... foiled by electronics and (my) stupidity. Redeemed by a skywalk... okonomiyaki... and the same great company.

All quite moving on day two in Japan.

--to be continued

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