From Tokyo to Tennoji

It is now time to return to Osaka. We farewell our beloved Shinjuku Prince hotel and join the morning crush of crowds at the station. Squeezing into the Yamanote Line at the very rear carriage, I watch the tracks flowing behind us as we head to the Shinagawa interchange.

The concourse at Shinagawa is impressive, but most of the shops are not open yet. Alex and B eat at yet another sushi train for their breakfast, I have a quick bowl of soba noodles, mistakenly ordering cold broth when I wanted hot. No matter, it’s still good.

We spend so much time shopping that we barely reach our Shinkansen in time and have to leap on board a different carriage to make our way to ours.

There are lots of tourists in our carriage and they have done the dumb thing and are taking giant hard shell cases. True, the Japanese also do this when flying to distant lands, but not when travelling by train within Japan, and for good reason. The trains are not designed for passengers with big luggage. Instead, we try to carry narrow soft shell bags that can easily fit in the overhead racks.

The weather varies along this very familiar ride. Low cloud hides all but the lowest slopes of Mount Fuji, while further on it clears to wispy streamers of cirrus. Normally I find the scenery along this route some of the more boring bits of the country, but today I am enjoying it.

Many of the tourists depart at Kyoto, but we continue on to the terminus of Shin-Osaka. There we change to a Haruka airport express to Tennoji, a suburb of Osaka.

We’ve stayed at the Tennoji Miyako before and it’s just opposite the station. The reception acts very confused and contrite when we attempt to check-in. We wonder if there’s something wrong with our booking, but it turns out just to be that our room isn’t ready yet. Ten minutes later and it’s all sorted with king bed and enough space for all.

We can put it off no longer. It is time to shop for those boring supplies to take home to Australia, the toothbrushes and Shiseido shampoo refills, the underpants and socks, the instant stew packets and whatever else takes our fancy. Fortunately, intentionally so, there is an Ito Yokado low brow department store an easy walk from the hotel.

My legs can walk kilometres with a heavy pack and probably have one of the strongest kicks in the dojo, but they just aren’t made for shopping.

I do find one item that makes the shopping trip worthwhile: Gokuri grapefruit drink. It is my mission on every trip to Japan.

Alex spots a McDonald’s at the food court. We know there are nicer places to eat in this shopping complex, but he is hungry and determined to buy a chicken burger meal. The other options are a Mister Donut, a bakery, crepe store and a udon vendor. That’s what B and I go for. Noodle dish number two for the day.

Then back to the shopping, with only a brief stop for a baked cheese tart at Fujiya that I simply can’t resist. I don’t regret it.

We hunt through the “drug stores” but can’t find more than two refill bags of the body soap we are after. Same behind Tennoji station.

B suggests we go to the Namba area, so we catch the subway to Shinsaibashi station. We are at the front of the train, so emerge into the Crysta Nagahori underground shopping street. Escalators take us up to the entrance to the big Shinsaibashi Suji covered shopping arcade, near the colourful Uniqlo and H&M buildings. Fortunately, not too far in is a store selling the remaining shampoo and body soap satchels we need to resupply us for the next few months.

If you wondering why we need to get it from Japan, the answer is that we’ve noticed how shiny and nice our hair is since arriving here. We ran out of everything at home.

The shop assistance are all Chinese and I doubt many in the seething crowds filling the arcade are locals. Alex is tired and I can’t face the selfie-obsessed crowds tonight, so we head back to Tennoji, hoping to find dinner there.

It’s getting a bit late. Using Google Maps I spot a branch of Ippudo Noodles. B and Alex talked about it during their last visit to Osaka, while I was heading back from the south. Me, I’m not such a fan. They have a branch in Sydney. But if it makes them both happy… And so I completed the day with the third noodles – ramen.

A pair of riders are going around on very noisy and decorated motorbikes.

The shopping centres were now closed for the night, which is a pity because I felt like some dessert. So, as usual, back to the kombini next to the hotel.

Last full night in Japan.

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