Showers, sharks and shabu shabu

Kansai International Airport was barely open when we emerged from immigration. All of us felt grimy and smelly from the long flights and humid stops. A land side lounge provided 15 minutes of showers and an hour of shower room use for about $5 a pop. I didn’t know how to use 15 minutes of water, after being brought up to conserve this precious substance, but it felt wonderful to have a wash and change clothes.

While B and Alex at breakfast at McDonalds (McDonalds???) I hired a phone to share 4G over wifi and bought us three day Kansai Thru Passes which enable us to use most private railways and subways in the region.

A Darth Vader fronted and cathedral interiored Rapit:B train brought us from the airport to Nankai Namba station in Osaka. From there we used the subway to get to our hotel in Yodoyabashi.

As predicted, there was no early check in at the Toyoko Inn, so we left our bags, had a morning tea/breakfast of thick toast and salad at a nearby Pronto, and caught the train to Osakako and the Osaka Kaiyukan, the aquarium. A group of young foreigners was also headed there.

Alex was a bit disappointed by the lack of noisy traffic lights with countdowns along the way, so he provided his own sound effects.

B and I had visited the aquarium back in 2006 and been very impressed, so we thought we’d share the experience with Alex. He does like the Octonauts.

For most of it he was quite enthusiastic, running up to the glass to watch the antics of the otters, seals, penguins and dolphins, the whale sharks and rays in the big central tanks, which is viewable from many levels. Eventually he got a bit tired and hungry, while B and I were still admiring the ugly but big sunfish, schools of sardines, huge deep sea spider crabs and my favourite, the amazing jellyfish displays.

At the end there was a touch tank which he quite enjoyed.

B and I ate okonomiyaki and yakisoba at the adjacent food and shopping centre, but Alex fell asleep. We brought him to an indoor play area, where he climbed high up frames and shared cooking duties with a young girl, though neither understood each other’s language. Then we gave him some fried chicken from the “historical recreation” shops inside the centre.

We were all really tired, so we returned to the hotel, by which time our room was ready. Three hours later and we were ready to find food and shops.

The Midosuji subway carried us one stop further to Umeda. There we located an all you can eat shabu shabu restaurant from an earlier visit, though we had to wait 30 minutes to get in. I love dipping the thin beef and pork slices, along with various fresh vegetables into the bubbling pot of stock to cook, then dipping them again in sauces before eating. Plus soft serve ice cream was included at the end!

There was little time left now for shopping, with most shops closing at 9 pm, though we did spend a bit of time in Kiddyland, full of toys. We took a walk up along the direction of the Hankyu railway tracks, stopping to enjoy more fish tanks that line one arcade.

Totally exhausted, we then returned back to the hotel for a not so early sleep.

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