What’s up with this woman? Find out at the end of this entry.

Hey, we’re in Osaka, Akemi’s hometown, and we’ve just checked into the hotel. Akemi is going to meet up with some friends and, rather than tag along, I thought we might have the day to ourselves checking out the city.  Ready?  Let’s go!

Okay, heading out of the Takashimaya department store. Let’s head toward Shinsaibashi.
When Akemi asked me to sum up the differences between Tokyo and Osaka, I had one word for her: “Louder!”.
It seems that, wherever you go in Osaka, there’s always someone shouting. This appears to be the standard form of communication.
I couldn’t help but notice that the disembodied platform voice that greeted us at Tokyo station was warm, calm, and female, while the one that assailed us at the Osaka station was bellicose, loud, and male.
Did you pick up your BK Pumpkin yet? It’s for a limited time only after which it will go the way of the McRib.
This is apparently shopping central.
A street vendor sells yaki imo, roasted sweet potatoes – very Japanese street food.
I’m in the mood for Japanese-style curry. Let’s stop for lunch.
Our friend chef, Rasal, speaks both Japanese and English. He gives us a warm welcome and hands us the menu. But we already know what we’re having, right? Katsu Kari – golden-fried pork cutlet on rice with Japanese style curry sauce.
We ask if the curry is mild. Rasal assures us it is and then, noting our reaction, offers to spice it up for us.
And voila. Japanese curry is unique in that its thicker than other curries, sweeter and, in this case, spicier! Oh, feel free to help yourself to the tsukemono (sweet pickles) and pickled garlic on the side.
Let’s stop for dessert. Hmmm, this looks intriguing.
Custard caramel choux creme served hot. It seemed like a good idea at the time – until you realize it’s next to impossible to walk and eat at the same time. Also, good luck finding a garbage can to toss out that sticky napkin and spoon when you’re done.
And the menu confirms it.
Let’s stop to take in a street performance.  We should hire these guys to play Carl Binder’s next birthday party.

This one’s for Robert Cooper.
They’re in their early 20’s but they dress like they’re in their early 40’s.
Note the location of the police station. Just in case.
Osaka’s famed takoyaki (batter-fried octopus balls).
More Japan fashion. I find this style works better.
Hey, it’s a cosplay gathering!
Name the anime. Christian Combat Maid?
Continuing our stroll.
Who’s up for some takoyaki?

Apparently, the creepy doll is more famous than the restaurant it represents. It’s an Osaka landmark.  I might hire it to provide some of the entertainment for Carl’s birthday party as well.

Not sure what’s he’s selling but I’ll take one.
Buy something or he’ll kick your ass.
He looks like a racoon who knows his food.
Let’s eat at the place with the big dragon out front.
I said the BIG dragon.
The giant crab – another famed Osaka landmark.
Something tells me those takoyaki balls are spicy.
Here, hold THIS.

Thanks for tagging along.  This concludes our walking tour of Osaka.  Let’s get some eats in tomorrow’s blog entry.  Who’s up for some takoyaki?

Oh, yeah.  And what was up with that woman at the top of the blog entry.  I’m sure most of you savvy scifiers already guessed.  She isn’t a woman.  She’s a robot:

Finally, I end this blog entry with a message from my little sister:

Today I am extremely grateful.

I am grateful for my supportive family members, who have helped guide me and support me over the past few extremely difficult weeks. You have been there for me when I felt I couldn’t move forward, and you have stood beside me at the most difficult times.

I am grateful for the kind words, well-wishes, and prayers bestowed on us by my friends, my colleagues, and my brother’s blog followers.

I am grateful for the most incredible vet in the world, who’s caring, compassion and expertise has helped many of my animals when nobody else could. She is like no other vet I have ever met.

I am grateful for Aspen’s extended family at his home-away-from-home for treating my baby as if he were their own, and for committing to continue to care for him, with all that entails.

I am grateful for little Karma the puggle and her Mom, whom I met at the vet today. Karma displayed such a love for life and charismatic energy despite her handicap. Karma’s continued zest for life is only made possible because her Mom who believed they could get through this, where others may have given up the fight.

Most of all, I am grateful for my big boy, Aspen. He has fought hard over the past few days, and has shown me the will he has to continue enjoying life. He is eating again, playing, running and jumping. His eyes are bright and full of mischief and he is active and loving once gain. Way to go boy… you are my hero.

22 thoughts on “November 6, 2012: A guided photo and video tour of Osaka! And a message from my sis!

  1. That’s so great to hear about Aspen! Good news! YAY! Thanks for taking us along on your tour. That was interesting. What was the purpose of the woman robot? Was she an ad for a tech / robot company??

  2. Reprieve! So glad that Aspen rallied and is enjoying life again. Every day is a gift. Great note, Sis. Thank you for sharing Aspen’s and your story with us. Loved the dogs eating ice cream video.

    – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Terrific street signs and 3-D shop signs! Wish we did that in the States. The one looked like a ninja-zombie-alien. Love the puffer fish, partridges (?), and dragons. Was the angry guy sign related to the bellicose guy/voice at the train station? Is he an Osaka mascot? (On two different signs.) Thanks for the walking tour!

    What is Akemi’s opinion on the different personalities of Tokyo and Osaka (quieter/louder)?

  3. Osaka seems to have Disney World beat when it comes to oversized sculptures of comic and/or scary characters…

  4. “Our friend chef, Rasal, speaks both Japanese and English.”
    Cute!! 😛

    “Let’s stop for dessert. Hmmm, this looks intriguing.”
    No it doesn’t. Where is the chocolate?

    ST. ANDREW’S Tacky. “And the menu confirms it.”

    “They’re in their early 20′s but they dress like they’re in their
    early 40′s.”

    And what’s with the hair?? Oh well. It’s just clothes and hair. At least it’s not cocaine and meth.

    “More Japan fashion. I find this style works better.”
    I bet you do… 🙄

    “Continuing our stroll.”
    Reminds me of a little baby New York City.

    “Apparently, the creepy doll is more famous than the restaurant it represents.”
    I thought it might be a real person standing there until I played the video. Pretty lame. Get a real person. That would be cool.

    “Buy something or he’ll kick your ass.”
    Is he like New York’s soup nazi?…the Osaka Sausage nazi! 😡

    Very colorful town! Thanks for the tour! 😀
    Where would Akemi be working if she still lived there? 😕

    Very nice ending for your blog by your sister! Hang tough Aspen!

  5. Sensory overload!! so colorful and so many eating choices, music and moving robots. What a day. thanks for sharing it with us. Such a nice letter from Andria, all my hopes for continued improvement. Beautiful picture of Aspen and Andria.

  6. To Sis: Great news about Aspen. I am continually amazed at the kindness of people when one is in need, both for myself and my dog, so I understand what you are saying. Beautiful picture, btw.

    Joe: One thing I’ve realized in looking at your pictures of Japan is just how boring things are in the downtown area of our neck of the woods. There’s a lot of thought and ingenuity that goes into all that creative advertising.

    On the other hand, Asian people seem to make up a lot of the tourism centred in our wide open spaces with phenomenal scenery. So I guess it’s a trade-off. I would not trade our wide open spaces for all the tea on this planet or any other, but it would be kind of nice to have a little less of boring down town and more of creative 3D advertising like I’m seeing in your pictures…love it.

    I don’t know about the buildings in the Vancouver area, but having just driven along the 402 to Ottawa, I’m so impressed with the creative design of many of the buildings along the way. Outside of a couple, most of the buildings in Ottawa are the most boring collection of boxes.

  7. Awww…Sis made me cry. What a lovely note! My old lady kitty has gone through a lot this past year and a half, and every time I think I’m going to lose her she bounces back. I know one day she won’t, but I am grateful for each extra day she’s still with us. {{{Aspen and Andria}}}


  8. Wonderful news about Aspen! Hugs for Aspen and Sis!

    Loved our walking tour of Osaka, looking forward to the takoyaki tomorrow.

  9. Great news about Aspen.

    So, Osaka, it was already reminding me of this scene from a book where the ads jump out and get in your head, then they really did have that Jaws sign from Back to the Future that turned 3D and gobbled Marty and that was only the first sculpture/sign you showed.

    It was very kind of you to invite us along in Osaka, Joe. Sorry about slowing you down when I’d get overwhelmed.

  10. I already knew the lady was a robot because you were obviously taking her picture yet she didn’t flash the peace sign.

  11. Hugs for sis and Aspen and everyone else who could use one or two!

    Mmmm, kare saisu! And mmmm, takoyaki! And mmmm, choux creme! Which we always called shoe cream… and besides, it isn’t polite to walk and eat in Japan. So I was told when I went through Intercultural Relations. Thanks, US Navy!

  12. I’m so sorry that Aspen has not been well lately but glad he is doing better. I hope he keeps it up!

  13. YAY ASPEN!

    Andrew Zimmern’s Bizarre Foods aired a Japan episode this past weekend, and he tried making takoyaki balls…and failed miserably. There’s quite a technique involved there. As far as eating them, I’m not so sure I’d appreciate the molten batter mouth blister.

    That street rock-jazz ensemble was not to shabby. You SHOULD hire them.

    Akemi’s parents are cute. “Hi!” Akemi’s parents!

  14. Lovely photo of Aspen and Sis! Great news! I hope he continues to surprise everyone! I never underestimate our four legged friends! 🙂

  15. Akemi doesn’t need makeup, and she looks lovely in glasses! Thanks for taking us along on your adventures; I love reading the blog when you travel.

    Cody’s finally home, and I think the vet installed a turbocharger in him when I wasn’t looking. 🙂 He’s been full-speed since he got home, and Riley’s having a blast, too. Not to be disgusting, but as we were leaving the vet’s office, the poor puppy barely made it to the sidewalk and pooped right there. Had to go back in and get a bag, thinking we were ok for the night. Oh. Hell. No. He pooped again in the car on the way home (thank heaven for the cargo liner). We’d stopped for take-home barbeque, so I was loaded down with food and all his toys and blankets from his week at the vet’s and couldn’t even really think about getting out of the car to clean it up. We made it home, got him, Riley, Mr. Deni and all food and dog stuff inside, cleaned and washed everything, and guess what? He pooped inside again. Mind you, this was not diarrhea. Guys, I shit you not (no pun intended), he’s gone another 7 times since we got home. Either they fed him and didn’t walk him long enough (or at all?), or he ate a horse while he was there.

  16. Thanks for the walking tour of Osaka. Very fun. 🙂

    Fantastic news about Aspen. 😀

  17. Since I’m working backwards here, this thing with Aspen sounds like it was really bad but so glad it has had a positive ending. And whoa! What a interesting city.

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