Saying goodbye: Snapshots of the ordinary

Last day. We decided to make the most of our last day in Osaka by exploring neighbourhoods. We didn’t want to spend time at tourist attractions. We wanted the slice of life, Osaka-style. So where did we go? To the market!

First, we walked through the arcades of Macchamachisuji Shotengai, an array of shops selling toys, party goods, swords, samurai gear, formal Japanese dolls. It was a bit unnerving to see that the streets were still largely empty. I don’t know if this was due to the time of day or because the Japanese shoppers were staying away in sympathy for the disaster up north.

Koinobori – some gigantic ones – were on sale, in preparation for the coming Children’s Day. The gaily coloured banners did not seem in sync with the grey morning and the lack of activity. For a street selling fun stuff, it seemed strangely sober.

From there, we headed for the Karahori shopping arcade.  This is where obasan do their daily shopping. Fishmongers, bakeries, cafes, florists, small boutiques all sit comfortably with each other in a long covered arcade. I liked this place a lot. Nothing showy, or glitzy as the Shinsaibashi shopping area, but lots of what I call comfort shopping.

catch of the day

live green

Can't get to the hot spring? No problem. There's a vending machine for everything in Japan - including onsen water!

last meal in Osaka

We splurged on a cab for the short distance from Shinsaibashi to the Namba station because of the rainstorm. Also the backpacks, after 15 days of travel, were considerably heavier. Lunch was a hot bowl of tonkotsu ramen at the friendly Tenkaippin, just beneath the railway tracks at the Namba station. Served with kimchi, it hit just the spot – a satisfying footnote to our 15 days in Japan.

Since we were splurging, we took the snazzy Nankai Rapi:t Limited Express at 1390yen. Looking much like the stern profile of knight’s helmet, the Rapi:t was sleek outside and plush on the inside.

train driver at the helm

It was getting dark and still raining heavily when the train pulled out of the station to take us to the airport. That mirrored exactly how I felt.

At the airport, we zeroed in to the business class lounge – just for the heck of it since we were gawky plebians who’d never sat in business class before (okay I speak for myself). It was really just to compare the business class lounge in Kansai International Airport and the one in Changi Airport. Have to say that the one in KIX is really dated and in need of a makeover pronto. The furniture looked old and the fittings worn. The Silver Kris lounge at Changi Airport was the Ritz by comparison.

The plane ride back home was over all too soon. Why is it that trips in economy class always felt like they went on forever while this trip on business class seemed to end way too soon? I don’t know about the other airlines but SQ really pampers you in business class. I was sad to leave Japan but I was equally sad to leave my business class experience behind. It would be a long, long time before I ever get to travel like this again!

Up next – Tohoku!

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