Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Osaka - Osaka Sucks

Before we took off, we got up to watch the Gion Matsuri parade that marks the end of the festival. And boy, was it hilarious!

There were thousands of people lining the road - the crowds stretched all along the route and were almost an entire block wide in some places. The cops tried to control the masses, but it was literally surging against them as they tried to make a human wall. I should mention that the crowd was 75% senior citizens. These people go nuts over their traditions.

It was incredibly hot as well. Within ten minutes the sweat was pouring down my back. Finally, the first float showed up. But these things are centuries old, and they're not that advanced. It's this ten-story thing on wheels, pulled by two teams of about twenty guys (half of whom were white and looked like confused tourists that somehow wound up pulling massive floats). Oh, and the floats don't turn. At all. They had to lay down all this bamboo and water the ground to drag the float 90 degrees around corners. The process literally took half an hour per float. And there were roughly forty floats.

This sex kitten stood pressed against
my shoulder throughout the parade.

Then people started dropping, after only the first float had passed. All sorts of old people were being carried by the cops to ambulances, but still the crowd tried to push past the cops to get a better view. It was pandemonium, and I began to see why the parade is such a big hit - it's a really, really fun time. After about five floats, though, we had enough, so we pushed backwards through the crowd, which was quite the ordeal, and went back to check out.

We went to Osaka and found our hostel, which we had booked right before we got on the train. Katie had written me earlier that they were in a "HELL HOLE" in Osaka, so we were worried we would be at the same one. We weren't, but we might as well have been, because our hostel could only be described as a "HELL HOLE". It was so ancient and strict (probably due to the Christian owners and managers) - no eating or drinking in the rooms, lights out at 10 PM, showers (group, not individual) are only operational for 45 minutes, one room key has to be shared by all eight dorm members. It was hilarious. Pearl and I planned to stay for three nights before going to Tokyo, but within about ten minutes we had shortened it to two nights. And later that night, we decided just to go to Tokyo the next day.

We quickly got out of there (since we had only a few hours before bed time), and I dragged Pearl to the Osaka Aquarium. It was actually the best aquarium in the world, I'm going to assume. They had all sorts of crazy fish, and they tried to make their tanks as large and realistic as possible - they even had spider monkeys and sloths in the rain forest section. But the star attraction is the freaking whale shark. That thing is huge, and it's at the center of the spiral-shaped building, in the world's largest aquarium tank. It was so cool. Consider my aquarium thirst quenched.

We then went to the "America Village", which is supposed to be filled with people living the "myth of America", but is actually no different than the rest of Japan. We also hit up some small little neon-filled streets. And then we were out of things to do in Osaka.

We went to an Apple store for free internet, and decided to look for a place in Tokyo for the next night. I found only one place available, since it was the weekend, and booked myself a bed. Pearl went to do the same, and I had gotten the last bed! We laughed for about five minutes in the middle of the Apple store, and then left quickly after receiving glares from the staff for abusing their free internet. We would have no option but to beg for Pearl's sake at the hostel in Tokyo.

We quickly raced back to our creepy little hostel in the middle of the woods, since it was almost curfew. But on the way, I got stopped by a young Japanese man. He claimed he was a fashion designer, and started asking me my measurements. He then offered me a job as a male model, to shoot in Tokyo on the 20th and 21st. I lied and said I was going home really early on the 20th. He then held a finger to his ear, like he had an ear piece (he didn't) and said, "Oh! It was just changed to the 19th!" I don't know how legit of a career this could be, but he was persistent, so I let him take several shots of me right there on the sidewalk. I tried to make a Zoolander face, but he wasn't having that. And for those of you who don't model (unlike me, of course), let me tell you - it's the most awkward thing in the world. I suddenly became extremely conscious of my hands and feet, and I had no idea what to do with them. I kept kind of raising my hands up, and then crossing my arms, and then just letting them dangle. I'm positive that guy got some really awkward pictures of me.

He claimed he was sending the pictures to Tokyo tonight, and said he'd either call or e-mail me (I gave him my roommate Bodnar's phone number and e-mail address) before the nineteenth. The whole thing seemed very sketchy, and I'm sure he's just masturbating to the pictures. But it won't stop me from telling everyone I'm a model in Japan, and Pearl can attest to the fact that my ego began to swell throughout the rest of the trip.

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