From springs to shopping and shabu shabu

Sleeping on the floor can be really comfortable – if there is a shikibuton beneath you and a thick warm kakebuton on top. None of us really wanted to get up in the morning. I would have been happy to have a lazy breakfast in the cafe opposite and view the replica foods at Iwasaki Sample Factory nearby. But There Was Shopping To Be Done.

We raced to the train with a bare minute to spare, and then replicated the previous day’s journey, only in reverse and with the Shinkansen taking us from Nagoya to Shin Osaka rather than from Toyohashi.

In the rush I forgot to take tickets from the dispenser near the door of the Nagaragawa train as we boarded. You then put the ticket and the right change in the box near the driver when you get off.

Alex stood with me for much of the ride back on the Nagaragawa Railway’s railcar. It was fun sharing the pretty ride with him. Lugging the ever increasing luggage mass to the next couple of train put me in a bad mood.

We wasted time at Shin-Osaka looking for lockers to fit our luggage before taking it to the left luggage facility. Then we rushed on to the Haruka Express to Kansai Airport. Why the airport? Just prior to the airport terminus is Rinkutown, which has a number of kids shops and playgrounds at “Pleasure Town Seacle”.

Unfortunately, the Haruka didn’t stop at Rinkutown, so at  Tennoji we changed to a rapid express. We had to shift cars when we discovered that the rear four split off to head to Wakayama instead.

It felt strange to be going to KIX at this time of the day rather than late in the evening to catch a Jetstar flight home. Seacle’s ferris wheel is distinctively visible from the airport.

Alex seemed to remember the children’s play area from his last trip, with lots of padded, slowly moving rides. It now seemed a bit young for him, but at about $5 for an hour’s play it was decent value and he made full use of his time there.

We looked for clothes and shoes for him in the surrounding shops. His Thomas the Tank Engine shoes are falling apart from all the running and climbing he’s been doing.

We gave him a ride in a little Anpanman ride that just turned around slowly and flashed lights, but he enjoyed it.

By the time we returned to Shin-Osaka to collect our luggage it was past 7 pm. The subway ride to Namba station was less painful than expected with all the bags. We did discover that Osaka differs from Tokyo in escalator etiquette, in that here they stand on the right side and in Tokyo it’s the left. Very important to do what the locals do!

We found our hotel, the Vista Grande, without any problems. But it was too late to go to Umeda and eat shabu shabu as planned.

Fortunately, the hotel directed us to another all you can eat shabu shabu restaurant just down the road, above the H&M store.

We boiled the thin strips of beef, pork, vegetables and noodles in the bowl of broth bubbling away at the centre of the table, then dipped each in sesame or ponzu sauce. There was even unlimited servings of Haagen Dazs ice cream for dessert. Totally full, we walked back along Dotombori Street, admiring the bright Blade Runner neon and the giant animal facades of many eateries.

Tomorrow it’s ryokans and onsens again.


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