Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer 2009 Road trip!

mei's house ghibli Yuko and my summer vacations fall roughly around the same time so we decided to drive south for a weekend last week. So on Friday the 14th I got behind the wheel of my girlfriend’s car once again to drive 100s of kilometers south of Yamanashi.
DSC00010 Our first stop on our long drive was Aichi-ken’s 2005 Expo memorial park (Morikoro Park). The thing that Morikoro park is best known for besides it’s beauty and size is it has a to scale house from the movie “My Neighbor Totoro.” The same very house that Satsuki and May live in. It was cool seeing a Japanese house as it would have looked like about 50 years ago. Pretty quaint and utilitarian, with well pumps for water and a furnace under the bathtub to warm the water.
DSC00057 The next stop on Friday’s leg of the drive was Nagoya Castle. Our timing was pretty good because we got to see a festival getting set up while we were there. The castle is pretty much like most every other rebuilt Japanese castle. Looks cool on the exterior but the interior has been completely modernized and repurposed as a museum. If you are into history and stuff it’s worth the 500 yen entry fee but seeing it from a distance is just as good too. Just one more tourist trap to cross off my ever shrinking list.
DSC00069 The final stop for Friday’s drive and about 400km later we reached Osaka. We had some dinner at a kushiyaki restaurant near Osaka tower (which is tiny and I’ve seen it about 4 times now) and then we walked about for an hour taking some night shots of the Nanba shopping area.
On Saturday we spent the whole day in Osaka’s metropolitan area. Driving around there is really scary as the drivers are twice as aggressive drivers and taxi drivers are right out nuts.
DSC00075 We checked out Osaka Castle in 102 degree weather with about 45 percent humidity that day. It just hurt to stand outside. Thank goodness the castle was air-conditioned inside. Osaka castle looks a lot like Nagoya castle but they have their differences I guess. The interior also was repurposed as a museum. The best thing about it was that we got to dress up as Samurai for about 300 yen including pictures(which I can show to anybody who asks directly as Yuko prefers not to be shown on the blog.)
DSC00094 The rest of Saturday was spent shopping in Nanba with Yuko. She loves shopping so I got to see a ton of girly shops. I didn’t buy anything for myself really because I don’t care about knickknacks much. I get most of my enjoyment out of traveling and driving cross-country.
Every time I visit Osaka, it always feels a little different. That’s probably because it is. There is always construction going on there so buildings and businesses come and go. The best thing about the changes is that it always seems a little cleaner every time I visit.
Not many foreigners get to drive around the country. You can see a lot of Japan by train but you can see the real Japan by car. The only thing that stinks about driving cross-country is that I am tired at the end of the day. Oh well.
So that was our weekend last week. We drove back after lunch on Sunday and made it home around 6. Non-stop driving all the way home. I don’t know how I do it. I guess I’m built for torture.