Saturday, October 25, 2008

Blogging from Japan - First up: Osaka

Kaiju Korner is back in Japan! It's been too long since I've been to Osaka, so I flew there first.

Popsoda has a new shop in Shinsaibashi. It's in a great location and is really spacious. The shot has a nice mix of American toys from the 80's-2000's, clothing, and new kaiju. Here's a shot of Mori-san (Popsoda comic artist) and Hossy-san (owner of Popsoda).

Hossy-san's collection. Not for sale (I wish!)

This figure by Nerd One was displayed at a show a few months ago. Unfortunately, as Hossy-san told me, it won't be made because of problems with the mold. However, Nerd One is planning to make a larger version of the figure, so that's good news!

Hero Gangu, an excellent three-story shop in Namba:

Hiro-san, the shop's owner and a huge Transformers (and Blade Runner and Dune!) fan:

Mandarake closed its shop in Namba but opened a new one in Shinsaibashi. Very spacious! Some shots from the shop:

Tsuburaya shop with lots of new toys (including some great discounts) in Namba:

Japan is a lot cheaper than it once was. There are plenty of restaurants that sell meals for 1000 yen or less. Check out this place. A bowl of noodles for 250 yen!!
There are also tons of 100 yen shops that sell everything from bowls and chopsticks to stationary and a lot more:
Not only is food reasonably priced, but it's delicious, of course! And it's becoming a lot easier to travel in Japan as a vegetarian. This place in Shinsabashi serves one of the best veggie paninis I've ever had - for less than 5 bucks!

Then there's always the good ole reliable tamago don (anyone who's read my blog knew that one was coming!) I've tried the dish in a few restaurants in different parts of Japan, but this one, near the Mandarake in Umeda, is the best I've had - and it costs less than 400 yen!
(BTW, smoking is no longer allowed in the restaurant, at least not during lunch hours. This is a very big change in Japan which seems to be accelerating. More and more places are either completely banning smoking or limiting it to certain hours or parts of the restaurant.)

A shot in front of one of the chain's other outlets in Nihombashi:

I love this random sign in Amerika Mura:
While wandering back last night, my buddy and I stopped by McDonalds for a drink and saw these folks playing some kind of card game. The whole first floor was filled with these 10 PM cardaholics:
Random side of a building:
Cool new building:
This sign in front of a coffee shop is pretty funny. It made me think of Bill Murray's character in Lost in Transation filming the whiskey commercial. "For relaxing times...make it Suntory time."

Halloween is huge in Osaka. Some masks:
Very interesting scene here. The yen is in the middle of its greatest surge against the US Dollar in a decade. That's of course miserable news for visitors to Japan, since everything is 15-20% more expensive than it was last year, just because of the exchange rate change. :-(
However, the news is great for Japanese folks traveling abroad, sending a child to an overseas school, buying from an overseas website, etc. As I was walking through the Umeda station, I saw what looked like a rush on a foreign currency bank. My guess is people were lining up to exchange their yen for USD. At 94/1, I can't say I blame them!

Kind of an interesting show I saw in Umeda station. If you peek through the glasses, you see illustrations for the story that the two men with the mic's are narrating:
One thing you can always count on in Japan is finding cool new games at arcades. Virtual Fighter 5 looks amazing. The game shown below is a super interactive machine with the players placing cards on a massive touch screen to battle whatever the game throws their way. Very techy!
Finally, a photo good enough to eat!
Tomorrow I'm heading to the Hobby Con in Kobe, and on Monday it's on to Kanazawa!
Well, that's all for now. Thanks for reading. I'm about to head out for some veggie Okinomiyaki!

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