6 Sep

Let me tell you about the best weekend ever.

It started Friday. First we went to the center of Suita, the city my school is in. There were tons of really interesting shops! For example, one shop that sold only seaweed products. There were expensive cake shops and a 100 yen shop. And my favorite, a shop that sold takoyaki and dorayaki. Takoyaki is fried balls of octopus… not really up my alley. BUT! Dorayaki is the most amazing food known to mankind. And I’m pretty sure this shop makes the best dorayaki in Japan. Here we are, loving it.

It’s sort of like a pancake filled with something, normally bean paste. However, this shop had a creamy custardy filling, and I got one right off the griddle. It was heaven.

Anyway, we made our way back to school. Next on the agenda: karaoke. First of all, it cost about $7 a person for three whole hours–and we got free soda/slurpees (melon-flavor for the win!) Second of all, we found lots of good English, Japanese, and Chinese (thank you, Karen!) songs to sing along to, including our new favorite, Ken Hirai’s “Pop Star.” You need to watch this video to understand the awesomeness.

I left the sensory overload a little early and had a nice quiet dinner at home. I needed to rest up for our next adventure, Spa World! (CHAAAA!!!)

This is the best place on earth, truly. Also, there was a big promotional event that made admission cheaper than normal: we only paid about $13 a person for the entire day. And what a day it was. When you first get into SpaWorld, you’re given a plastic wristband. This is to monitor your purchases so you can lock up your wallet and walk around empty-handed. Then you take off your shoes and store them in lockers, then walk around barefoot wherever. We went straight to the changing rooms, where we received towels and cute pink cover-up dresses (the men got blue shirt and shorts sets) for wandering around if we didn’t want to change out of our bathing suits. We then proceeded to the pool, which was basically a circuit of moving water with some pools off to the side. The water moves with such strength that you just get in and it pulls your pleasantly along until you decide to get out or move to a still pool. There’s a waterfall you can go under, too. Of course, it was packed. But super fun anyway. There were also some super sick water slides that Chris and Sean rode (they were expensive to ride so I didn’t, but I hear they were awesome).

So after a dip in the pool we moved onto the onsen. Onsen are public baths. They’re separated by sex, because you aren’t allowed to wear a bathing suit. It’s very liberating and super relaxing, because the water is just about as hot as it can get without burning you. Spa World has a ton of themed baths. This month, men were in the asian baths and women in the western baths. Ours were absolutely beautiful. Some were inside, a couple were open-air. There was even a sauna and a cold pool. On top of that, there was a little café for cooling down, where you would buy a drink (buck naked), sit down at a table (still buck naked), and put your feet in the little stream under the table, which had little pebbles at the bottom so you could give yourself a foot massage while watching tv.

After that, we hit the sit-down showers, where you could dump water over your head, soap up with the complimentary soaps, and basically get all clean. Back in the changing room there were complimentary brushes and lotions, and you could sit at vanities and blow dry your hair, fix up your makeup, and just generally get back in the world. But then Karen and I were sleepy, so we figured we would find a bench and lay down. No need, however! Next to the changing rooms was a huge lounge, full of big, comfy, fully reclining chairs. There were also TVs, and the chairs had little speakers near your head so you could pick a channel and listen privately. Complimentary blankets were, of course, also available, and plenty of people were just out like a light from the heat of the baths.

After that, we sat down to dinner at the cafeteria, at low tables on tatami. Then we gathered our shoes and left, feeling awesome. If you’re ever in or near Osaka, Spa-World is a must. I think generally admission is closer to $33 a person, but it is still well worth the money spent. You have to be careful, though, because the food and goods inside are pretty expensive. But if you watch yourself and only spend money on necessities like food, you can have a great, relaxing experience for super cheap!

But that’s not all! Sunday, we went to Osaka proper to visit the Pokémon Center.

This place was amazing. Lots of wonderfully cute Pokémon goods, for kids and adults. I had the best time looking at everything. Like seriously, the best time. Sean dropped a ton of money here, and even got himself a Trainer hat. I got a folder and a horrendously cute sticker as well as some postcards and a cell phone charm.

I asked a nice man to take our picture.

Following that adventure, we got some burgers and went to the Loft, which is an awesome zillion-story shopping center. I found a few things I had been looking for, including a small Daruma doll. It was really cheap, but I misread the price–280 yen–in dollars and almost didn’t get it (not clever). Then we played DDR at a nearby arcade, ate some mochi, and called it a day.

At dinnertime, Karen had a hankering for mashed potatoes, so we made a real Amurrrkin dinner of mashed potatoes, breaded chicken, and corn. In my tiny kitchen, no less. It was really exciting and pretty darn delicious. Hence the nom-face.

Today–Monday–was a pretty normal day. The other foreign students are starting to trickle in just in time for regular classes to start. In the afternoon, we received the cell phones we’re renting. They are super exciting. All Japanese cell phones have a sensor that allows you to send and receive contacts (like the bump app for the iPhone). It’s really fun to use these phones, cause we can do the cutest emoticons. Also it’s really nice to be able to communicate without schlepping around the apartment complex and banging on doors 🙂

And then this evening Karen and I made delicious delicious pasta.

Weekend and beyond well spent, I’d say.


2 Responses to “チャライ。”

  1. Wayne September 7, 2010 at 8:37 am #

    Oh man, it sounds like you’re having an awesome time. Ever since my little side-trip to the Tokyo airport, I’ve wanted to visit Japan proper… and you’re making me jealous :P. Eat lots of good food for me, OK?

  2. Sara September 27, 2010 at 1:17 am #

    DIANE! It looks like you’re having an amazing time! I really want to go to Japan. I miss you and Sean soo much!

    Also, Yusef wants to know if you can heal your Pokemon at the Pokemon center you went to.

    Hope you’re well!

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