the weekend before last was a grand trip to osaka, a town for which my love has grown like a radioactive bunny. as my travel buddy has no japanese yet (how's the alphabet coming, d?), i was responsible for the arrangements. this was a good push for me and necessitated two entirely japanese phone conversations! we met at tsuruhashi station in the heart of osaka's korean district. yakiniku! yakiniku! when i stepped off the train, i could smell the garlic and beef on the air. YUM.
our weekend was characterized by a new and miraculous sensation for me~~that of knowing where we were and where we were going. we seemed to stumble easily onto the doorsteps of places for which we were searching, and we navigated the subways without a hitch. i guess i have learned something this year.
our first hotel was of the standard business variety. incredibly clean (they should call it japanese clean, 'cause it's a special kind of clean that you've never seen in america and can only try to imagine) and well-equipped. we arrived about twenty minutes before our check-in time and were offered a place to store our luggage, but they basically told us to get lost for the remaining nineteen minutes, so we pretty much just stood outside until it was time. everyone, meet my new friend danielle.
here's the bathroom with standard items: a dispenser with shampoo/conditioner/body wash, a razor, comb, toothbrush, and a toilet that will wash your butt if you want.
here's the nice, firm bed. (hear that mom? something else you'd love!) the comforter and carpet (often neglected in american hotel cleaning...i know, i was a maid) were without even a hint of previous-occupant ickiness.
the other amenities: a safe, tea maker with free tea, hairdryer, the book of buddha and the new testament, a flashlight charging under the desk, a tv, and a refrigerator. women (and women only; the website was very specific) got a bag of cosmetic samples upon check in, but we'll get to that later.
one special feature of this hotel is you must plug your room key into the wall to get the lights to work, as so:
the other special feature is the view of tommy lee jones out the window. he's in a series of very hilarious tv commercials for boss coffee. numbers 4 and 5 are my favorite...(for "lainbow" mountain)
we dove into a lovely evening. dotonbori was bright and full of people. we met kara and her mom at the best mexican restaurant in osaka, hermanos, and stuffed our faces. then we did some pre-shopping shopping and finally retired to try out our cosmetics bags.
we dressed up in the hotel pajamas and readied our faces with the provided hairband. we felt very laverne and shirley and took several really bad pictures that just make me look like a giant with three boobs. the so-called "essential" oils of the face wash got in our eyes and stung in that chemical burn kind of way. we tried to soothe our angry skin with the wet paper towel jason mask, but mostly we were just glad when it was over.
the next morning we headed out early to shop. even more hardcore were the people lined up waiting to be assaulted by pachinko. some highlights were:
an "only in japan" moment--anti aging scrub for your knees.
some HO~~TT boots for a mere $1300.
and some tuff faux leather jackets.
after that we checked into the capsule hotel! capsule hotels are only recently making areas where women can sleep, and as such, often the women's (womens'?) quarters are less nice than the men's. though still "japanese clean," our floor of capsules was on the basement level, so zero windows. boo. and the poor lighting didn't alleviate that basementy feel.
you get two keys, one to the auto-locking threshold through which men are absolutely not allowed (as you're free to roam naked from locker room to make-up room to capsule to bath if you so desire), and one to your locker. provided were hotel pajamas, curry yellow towels (clearance sale?), and a body sponge. the keys are on a neck cord so you can put on your one-size-fits-all PJs and look like a PE teacher too!
the capsule size was far from claustrophobic, though bear in mind, i chose to be buried underground for two hours as a performance art piece:
romping in capsule land:
the wicked witch watches TV:
lastly, and most brilliant of all, we shopped in what are called the lolita stores...shops overflowing with fluffy lace and ribbon-bedecked dresses of exquisite quality. i had hoped to find one of these frothy confections for my very own, but the girls at Baby, The Stars Shine Bright were less than friendly, and i felt very downcast after that. neverfear, though, the girls at Angelic Pretty were much sweeter, and i found a dress that i just had to have. i've been in love with white for a few years (thanks Apple), and my new dress is fashioned of white velveteen. it feels amazing to wear, and i spent so much money that i (gulp) could barely afford the train ride back home.
i've been bitten, though. i. am. obsessed with these dresses and check the websites daily to see what new ones have been posted. it's very alice in wonderland: wacky, feminine, and a little bit magic.