Well it's lucky Osaka is mainly known for it's nightlife as we managed to do little else whilst here, due to spending most of our time in a Launderette, trying to achieve some clean clothes. This is more difficult than you would think - all the instructions, symbols, wash programmes etc were in Japanese script, our Japanese is very limited and the attendant spoke no English. Much confusion, hundreds of Yen and about 4 washing programmes later we finally had some clean pants! Yay!
To make the most of the clean pants we decided to go and investigate this legendary nightlife, and had arranged to meet Matt and Kieran - two of Naomi's friends from home - under a giant plastic crab with moving arms, in the main street. We thought this was a pretty unique landmark but apparently there are two! We went for dinner (more tofu and rice for me), then on for drinks in a tiny, old-fashioned jazz club, where there was only one other patron - a middle-aged Japanese man who looked well established at the end of the bar. Into our second round of drinks, some strips of dried something arrived and the bar man explained they were from the Japanese man, so although they had definite tentacle potential we didn't want to offend him and ate the salty strips. I have to confess I then went to the loo and promptly sicked mine back up (but did it discreetly so he would never have known). Horror - the only toilet was a squat (not easy to use for ladies at the best of times, especially after a few drinks) and I fell over trying not to wee on my leggings.
By the time I came out, the others, the bar man and the Japanese man were all deep in conversation about the resident terrapin that lived in a tank on the bar - if we understood correctly, the English translation of his name was essentially 'Erection Dave'. Ok. From that the Japanese man and I managed to have a pretty wide-ranging conversation, by using his limited English, and drawing pictures and writing in a notebook he had with him. Apparently he was a history teacher, 56 years old, with a wife and 2 sons. We 'discussed' international politics, nuclear weapons, what I thought of Japan and which countries we'd been to. I told him I found Japan clean, friendly, safe and efficient. He didn't understand efficient so I said 'not lazy' and he was amused by my implication of the UK being 'inefficient'.
Keen to try some Kareoke whilst in Japan, we moved on to a place with private rooms, (so only your group of friends has to witness your terrible singing) a huge choice of songs, tambourines and drinks service. En route we had picked up Sebastian who joined us for the rest of the night (and has come to Kyoto with us), and momentarily lost and then found Naomi who had sneaked off to buy a mochi kebab and came back looking very pleased with herself, with icing round her face. We had so much fun at Kareoke - I'm normally too self-conscious to sing but all of us had drunk enough alcohol to think we had amazing singing voices and belted out some classics until our voices ran out and we had to go home about half four in the morning. It was brilliant!
(Before my Mum gets too worried) Sebastian is half a mannequin we found randomly in the street on top of some shop rubbish - a black plastic male torso (front half only), the kind for demonstrating t-shirts in shop windows. After Kareoke we took him back to our hotel in the taxi, which probably explains why the first 2 taxis we tried to get in didn't accept us.
Back at the hotel about 5am, Sophie was disgusted by me eating sushi, but in the absence of a trusty chip pitta, it was all I could get to soak up the alcohol. Naomi and I set the alarm determined to get up at 8am to get our free buffet breakfast, but when it went off and I opened my eyes to see Sebastian straddling the table, wearing my coat, and with a terrible spinning sensation in my head, I found that Naomi felt as rough and we abandoned the breakfast plan.
Unfortunately Tuesday turned out to be hangover recovery day so the only sight-seeing we did was of a Pizza Hut Naomi and Sophie hunted down via the internet (sushi didn't quite cut it, sorry!!), and the park we sat in to eat it (takeaway only but we were desperate). This park turned out to be the local spot for dog walkers showing off their pooches' wardrobes - I have never seen so many dressed animals! It seems to be quite the thing and nearly every dog we saw was wearing some kind of scrunchie or hoodie - one even had a full office-wear themed all-in-one, and a chiua-ua (spelling?!) looked even more ridiculous than usual in a hooded jumper with little ears on the hood.
xxxxx (Everything ok at home? News is welcome!) xxxx