September 26, 2010
Stayed up VERY late the night before with Amy watching … Kung Fu Panda (for the seventh time in my life)! So, proportionately, woke up around 1:30 pm today. Amy willingly let me sleep because SHE was quite asleep, too. Chris, however, being the early bird of the family, was up at 7:30 am, cooked breakfast, watched Kung Fu Panda, and then went to the GGG glass studio to cold work some of the finished pieces. We planned to meet up at 4 pm at Exit 15 from the Subway at Namba Eki.
Amy and I finally got ourselves out of bed, lightly breakfasted on rice, eggplant (well, I ate that!), and eggs. We finally left the apartment at 3:20 pm. It was a pleasantly cooler day than before (60-70s F).
We were to meet Chris at 4 pm at Namba Station, and it takes about 30 minutes – so we were late. As usual. Arrived at Exit 15 at Namba, and Chris was not to be found. He showed up a few minutes later, carrying a bag of glass works from the day before!
We headed to our favorite Okonomiyaki shop, Tenabon. We gave them my glass rabbits, and Chris presented to the owner, a funky bottle with a handle he made. The owner blew into it, turned it around, and couldn’t figure out what to do with the piece as the hole was pretty small at the top. He made some suggestions, and gave the piece back to Chris to rework!
We ordered SO many items! Started with their famous tori (arther large chicken) hearts, yakisoba, pork okonomiyaki, bacon and greens for Amy, natto (fermented soy bean – and forbidden by Amy to eat in her presence!) with green onion okonomiyaki for me (since it’s my birthday, Amy made an exception!), and a round of three Iced Oolong Cha.
We also tried kabocha, okra, and had another set of tori hearts (“toh-ri haa-to”). We showed all our glassworks to Sakurada-san and the owner (never DID get his name!), and chatted with a customer. The owner asked us if we liked Sumo, and then turned the TV to the Sumo tournament in Tokyo. It was amusing to note that one round in the upper ranks had two “gaijins” – one from Russia, and the other from Rumania, I think. Not only their facial features differed from the Japanese Sumo wrestlers, but they had body hair! Fuzzy Sumo!
It was only 5 pm, too early for a crowd, which was merciful, as this is a SMALL place! Seats 8 comfortably. AND, there was limited smoking! Smoking in Japan can be an entirely separate topic. From the first time I lived in Japan to now, the number of smokers does not seem to have changed. If anything, it seems MORE Japanese smoke. Cigarettes are easy to come by, but aren’t cheap. It’s a prestige thing. And, the Japanese are great in marketing smoking to be “cool,” so important to the image conscience Japanese!
After a very filling early dinner (and our most expensive one yet – Y5,000 even, about $60!), the kids asked what I’d like to do. I chose … Pachinko! The HiPS building was nearby so we went there to check out how it’s played nowadays. Taking the outside escalator, it took us to the third floor, and into … an arcade! Pachinko was on the 1st and 2nd floors, apparently. So, I gave Y1,000 to each of the kids, and the only request I had was to get a picture of us in the “Puri Kura” – photo booths also called, Pretty Club, hence the name. Games cost Y100, so Amy began with Taiko drums, and Chris raced around a track in a race car. After Amy’s bout with Taiko, we took 30 minutes to pose and decorate our pictures from the Puri Kura. It only cost Y400 and we got a small “page” of glossy stickers (about 3″x5″ card).
Amy went onto play while I wandered around, and found a large enclosed bubble – it required a special “license” to drive in the surround sound and screen! I have no idea how much it cost to “play” in that bubble, but it sure seemed cool!
The smoke after an hour was beginning to bother me, so we left soon afterwards. It was just as well, as we learned that one had to be at least 16 years old to be there, though I’d seen some other kids who were definitely not older than 16.
I had a hankering for chocolate cake and coffee (alas, I have YET to find anywhere that serves Decaff! Not even Starbucks offers that here!). We wandered onto a stone bridge over one of the many canals in Namba, and Chris commented that it was a “Japanese Venice!” Neon-lighted and very crowded Japanese Venice, but aptly named.
Chris went back to the apartment early as he looked wiped out (rock climbing earlier that day). Amy and I found a lovely relatively SMOKE-FREE cafe and ordered … Chocolate Cake and Mocha Frappacino! The cutie pie wished me a, “Happy Birthday” again, and we dove into the cake and scooped out the frappacino. We were up most of the night from all that caffeine!
It was a good day.