Day 2 continued: Food and “window shopping”

Osaka Travel Blog

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Random Observation/Comment #3: Takoyaki is delicious and can only be trumped by the taste of Okonomiyaki. Laurie, stop drooling.
After the Aquarium, we walked towards Dotonbori along what looked like NYC’s 5th Avenue. The wide street supported all the top brand names such as LV, Diesel, Gucci, etc, and even had a large Park Avenue-type median. The entire walk was a discussion regarding the increased standards towards hot Japanese girls. The Erics were drooling over them and disgustingly turning heads to seek out the next short shorts with knee-high socks. “Nice legs” was no longer a valid indicator of hotness because all of these girls had legs that would have passed for sculptures. These girls were wonderful eye-candy, but I was overall not that impressed. My lack of excitement was due to what I saw as another “hehe-keke” so-called cute shyness poisoning my mind. It worked for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, but the indecisiveness and withdrawn state of mind brings my hands to my ears, and my head to my keyboard.
Regardless, we followed the mob of girls into the OPM girl department store. Our slow stride and fake attention towards female fashion did not reveal our true intentions at all. Well, Laurie was there, but I think she was looking at girls for us as much as we were. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) she has been converted by the Erics to engage in such conversations as “how many flags do you think she gets? Six flags! More flags, more fun!” Laugh. I must admit that this is an ongoing conversation, so we were constantly entertained with saying in our foreign tongues, and therefore unbreakable code, “dude, check that one out at 3 o’clock.”
At one point when we were on the escalator, Eric said “it’s like a conveyer belt of sushi; I just want a piece of them all!” I think he was biting his lip so hard that it was starting to bruise. I offered tissues for their constant nosebleeds (watch anime if you don’t get the reference).
The Erics finally decided to leave the spawning pool of beautiful girls and continue along the road. We wandered into t-shirt and jeans stores along some beaten paths. The whole clean color t-shirt thing is completely out of style here. Everyone wears shirts that say something completely random and useless. I would have gotten something if it was funny or ridiculous, but most of them were just legitimate over-cluttered and poorly designed shirts. Some of the jeans were just too modern to pass for heterosexual even in St. Marks. If you’re into the 3 zipper heads on one zipper (which makes no sense to me, nor should it to you), then this is the right place for you. Let’s not forget to mention the little key and lock zipper that they must have designed while high. They basically had every punk outfit I could think of, and then came up with so many more exotic ones. Who wears a pair of jeans with the top half of another pair of jeans sewn on over the front pocket? You’d literally have to open two zippers to pee. Oh and might I add it looks freakin’ retarded. The jeans that had a decent fade or acceptable new style were too tight. Their jeans are not friendly for guys who don’t have girl legs. It didn’t even pass my knee-caps on a 33. I’ll leave the fashion rant at that.
Eventually our attention waned as we grew hungrier. Priorities fell into place very clearly for me. It follows: food first, then girls, and then clothes. Even when we were shopping (and oh boy do we have a terrible addiction to jeans), any girl that walked by would draw our attention away from the coolest fade or best deal. However, if at any point we started slumping our way through stores and dragging our feet, the idea of food was the only Holy Grail led us walking further. This state of my existence was unavoidable and the worst feeling. My stomach started digesting the lining and I could imagine that it’s not that pretty.
There were so many restaurants to choose from on that brightly lit touristy street. There are plastic versions of what they serve in front of every store with a little bit of English for us tourists. I’m glad they did it, or else I would have wound up pointing at something random on the menu. Despite all of these simplifications, we couldn’t decide for 30 minutes. We stumbled over each other like indecisive zombies. I started gnawing on my own arm and threatened to eat Laurie if the guys didn’t stop bickering about prices or types of food.
We eventually decided on a nice little place with a vending machine in the front. At first, I thought it was for something random like soft drinks, soda, cigarettes, beer, hard liquor, or action figures (you know, the usual) but then I saw the little pictures of meals strategically placed next to buttons on the vending machine. Yes. Enter money, press a set meal, and receive your change and ticket. You walk in and hand in that ticket, and they make your meal in about 4 minutes. It’s beautiful; so simple and elegant. The waiters don’t have to bother with telling us daily specials or handing out menus and waiting for us to decide for 10 minutes. You don’t even have to ask for the check because you already paid. This place was about speedy turnovers, which means you pay, come in, eat, and leave. It’s not like there was much variety between types of ramen, fried rice, and cabbage. The picture of this meal and all of my meals are in one of my many facebook albums.
That ramen was the best ramen I’ve ever had in my whole entire life. Well, I was starving, so my opinion of the food should be taken with that in mind. Either way, it really hit the spot, and we were right where we left off – back to “window shopping.” The Dotonbori area is absolutely beautiful and a perfect dating spot. There are bridges over this river running through the street like in a small segment of Venice. The neon lights reflect in the murky waters and the cool breeze picks up the smell of barbeque. It’s important to note that some of the best food comes from the little side carts. It’s not like hot dogs or pretzels or crazy for nutz you see in the city. The barbeque and little cheap treats are a hidden treasure for us foreigners. The takoyaki and okonomiyaki are both delicious at about 300 yen.
It was about 9PM when I left because the commute was 2 hours for me. Now that I look back on the map, I think it could have been much shorter, but I didn’t really think it through. This comes to my next point: look for alternative routes to your destination. There is a shortcut to get from point A to point B without transferring multiple times if you look hard enough. I was given poor directions early in my travels, so I wound up wasting a lot of time going around in a big circle. I did something similar to going from Brooklyn to the Bronx by going through Manhattan. Sure you could do it if you like looking at other people in the subway, but what a waste of valuable window shopping time. Also note that trains stop running around midnight, so you really have to plan your schedule if you don’t want to get stranded in the middle of nowhere. I’ve always carried around 20,000 yen on me, just in case this happens and I need to stay at a hotel. I would suggest catching a taxi, but I have honestly not seen one yet. I’ll look more into that later.
~See Lemons get Nosebleeds

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Random Observation/Comment #2: A speedy on function for a camera is quintessential for my picture taking lifestyle.
From my Aquarium adventures on the second day (previous entry), I explored the functionality of my camera. I am using a Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T20 with 8.1 megapixels, super steady shot, ISO3200, face detection, and double anti-blur technology. The camera lens does not move (retract when the camera is turned on like the canon’s) so I do not have to worry about any mechanical malfunctions or scratching of the lens. The videos are very clear as the videos on facebook will show.
What I find very useful is the “program auto” mode, which allows me to make small adjustments to the settings in the parameters of: blurring, backlight, burst shots, ISO levels, EV levels, saved picture type (8M, 3:2, 5M, 3M, VGA, 16:9), steady shot, red eye reduction, flash level, white balance, focus, and metering. Making these tweaks can really enhance the picture as an artist or whatnot. However, if half (or all) of the mentioned vocabulary is nonsense to you, the camera works well as a simple point and click.
The battery lasted me the full day (15 hours) of video and picture taking (approximately 6 minutes of video and around 400 pictures). There is probably a new touch-screen version or some fancy pants (I don’t know why that phrase has grown on me), but this one was $350 when it was purchased a little less than a year ago. Be sure to purchase the 2GB memory card upgrade for any camera you choose because the most embarrassing thing is saying “I ran out of film” or “I’m out of memory” at this day and age. My camera is highly suggested for the casual and intermediate picture takers out there going on a nice vacation =D.
I considered buying an SLR (single lens [something or other]), but it’s a little bit gaudy as a tourist. I might as well put on a Hawaiian t-shirt and write “steal my shit” on my forehead. Besides, I’ve found that for most scenery and quick shots, the regular digital cameras work exceptional. It’s not like I’m publishing my pictures at high definition to utilize the 12 or whatever maximum megapixel professional camera is out there now.
Back to the point, when it comes to taking pictures of the high movement fish, the flash should be forced off. Additional program settings, such as natural colors and ISO800, give very clear results. The ISO level is an interpolation scheme at which higher levels add some noise (looks a little more grainy) with the benefit of having a much less blurry image when not using flash. This will not be an issue if you are in a well lit area with stationary objects. However, in the case of an aquarium, flash is prohibited and not all fish will stop swimming for a pose. Keep your hands as steady as possible and do some burst shooting with varied EVs to get a nice range of motion poses and brightness. The beauty of digital is the ability to delete bad pictures (at a later time, of course, to save battery life).
~See Lemons Shashin toremas (take pictures)

photo by: yasuyo