Archive for the ‘Osaka’ Tag

A crazy night at Pure with models

they were hotties

they were hotties

Random Observation/Comment #50: In situations like hitchhiking, it might be a good idea to lie and say you’re from Canada or something. However, when you’re out at a club like Pure, New York status can be flaunted without any problems.

The adventure with Maki was cut short because she needed to go somewhere, but Chris and I continued to stay out and have an awesome time at Pure. Warning: this night may be so awesome that it is borderline unbelievable. This is a story I do not need to exaggerate to make interesting.

It was only 7PM, and I remembered from the JETs experience that Pure didn’t get popular until at least 11:30. We had too much time to kill, and I had no idea what we could do because by the nighttime I had always returned to my dorm recovering from the long walks from the morning and afternoon. In order to get a better of idea of how to spend the evening, we went to an information center in Namba. After chatting with the receptionist, her suggestion was to just start drinking early (we didn’t need an information center for this advice, but I think we felt less guilty doing so if a professional told us it was okay). We mentioned that we were going to Pure. Coincidentally, she said that she would also be there after work was over. I wasn’t sure if she decided to go because we were going, but sure enough, we saw her there about an hour after we had arrived. We took pictures in both locations to show the “coincidence.”

My memory of the night was blotchy, at best. Drinking had started at 7:30PM and lasted until 5AM. It would be fine if it were only beer, but the bar mainly served cocktails with double-shots of liquor. As the different types of alcohol mixed, we became friendlier and met so many random Japanese people. Their English slurred with their low tolerance, but it was still understandable. I mostly spoke to Tomoko, asking about her life and different adventures. She was the cute and shy anime type of girl with the avoiding eye contact and giggles. Her subtle reactions gave me the impression that she wanted the night to proceed like any of the storylines she read about. Unfortunately, I could not convince her to stay, and she left before the second party began. Yes, there was a second party.

After drinking heavily from 7:30 to 10, we walked around and talked to random Germans and Japanese chiropractors (very, very random). The hour passed very quickly because, before I knew it, I was back in the club talking to Canadians who were cycling from Tokyo to Nagasaki with weird handled grandma rental bikes equipped with one gear and a basket.

Everyone at the club was very friendly (probably because everyone was drunk from the earlier party). At 11:30PM, the bar was still slow, but by 2AM, the dance floor was full and you had to squeeze through the crowd to get to the bathroom. While some just stood around the pool table and talked with the same drink, others wandered and spoke with different groups. I met a lot of girls, but none of the conversations spoke about my research or aspirations in life. It was all bar talk – observations about the night, traveling tips, and textbook questions to keep conversations rolling. My mind moved from one idea to another, trying to see which topic would fit which person.

By the end of the night, I built my own little algorithm to search for a common topic. Each set of questions and corresponding answers let me peer into her mind and slowly fit her into a generic stereotype. I feel that most people follow this type of approach to learn someone in a quick situation. Keep thinking about the next topic while staying intrigued by her answer; give physical cues that you’re interested; keep your eye out for physical clues that show if she is or isn’t interested; and always be flexible and shift according to your situation. At clubs like these, there are plenty of girls and there is no need to have a forceful or stressful conversation. The words should just flow from your mouth with more of a natural side to it. If you’re not much of a talker, just ask her for a dance. If you’re not much of a dancer or a talker, go into a crowded area and force some ear whispering with a level of closeness between sentences and responses.

Chris has become an expert at this game, but chose to practice it with just interesting looking Japanese guys. I was only away for 15 minutes, but by the time I returned, everyone around the club knew of the American guy making his temporary positive reputation. Because of this friendly nature, he found Yohann, a male model from France. I did find it odd that there were so many beautiful, long-leg girls just waiting at the bars. Once you meet one model, you fall into the neutral zone in the model mind-set (which is better than the normal “everyone who isn’t a model doesn’t deserve to talk to me” mentality). Although some may be open-minded, they never pursue. Instead, it’s a constant series of measurements and physical comparisons before getting to know any real personality. Even if they are ridiculously hot, there’s no reason to be so wrapped up in their own ego. Not that it matters, most guys see these girls as eye candy – something to ogle and talk to other guys about when they’re drinking.

Despite my somewhat negative attitude towards models, we met a lot of them and found that they were eager drinkers. Tequila shots became sequential when two people missed the first kanpai. At one point we did 3 shots in a row because more models filtered through the crowd to talk with what other models deemed as “acceptable.”

I stopped drinking at 5AM, but we went to another club to wait for the first train. Yohann talked to the doorman and said that Chris and I were new American models that forgot our special modeling cards. I swooshed my hair back and flexed my facial features to show off some bone structure. Chris looked off to the side and acted as if he belonged in the club. He was already scoping out the place with some x-ray vision and assumed that he would be free to go in. The girls we were with came in as guests and everyone entered without paying the 1500 yen entrance fee.

In our drunken state, we continued this model image within the club. I was absolutely exhausted, but people still kept starting conversations with us. “So what do you do?” “Umm, I work and travel.” “Oh? What are you working as?” “Mm, I’m a model from New York.” “Really?!? Are you hungry?” “Not particularly, but I could eat.” “Would you like to eat me?” “Nah… chill. I lost my appetite.” “Take me to a business hotel…” “I gotta go to the bathroom. (side: Alright, let’s get the hell out of here.)”

My interest in girls had been replaced by a stronger urge to just go to sleep. It was a rough afternoon.

~See Lemons Pass for a Model – w00t

yohann's the man. cute girls.

yohann's the man. cute girls.

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Oh the Zoo! I feel like I’m six years-old

Chillax

Chillax

Random Observation/Comment #40: I refuse to wash my hands from the so called “clean water” spouting from the top of the toilet. I don’t trust that shyt (no pun intended).

This visit to the zoo would mark a momentous occasion of being the first time: a) going with a camera and b) having the knowledge of all the existing animals. It must have been at least 12 years ago since I’ve gone to see some caged animals pose for its eager fan club. I have vivid memories of seeing all of these animals in some place or time, but it was probably just my imagination running away with itself during the series “Planet Earth.” Actually, I see no other explanation, because all of these memories are accompanied by a deep-voiced British narrator (not Aliens’ girl, BBC version is so much better).

The Tennoji zoo didn’t particularly start me with high expectations due to the faded signs and cheap 500 yen entrance fee. Fortunately, my low expectations left me pleasantly surprised of the zoo’s diversity and very cute animals. It’s no comparison to the Bronx zoo, but it looks like they tried pretty hard to put together a nice 2 hour walk. Tennoji Park (adjacent to Tennoji zoo) was 700 yen, so I chose the koalas over the flowers.

I didn’t miss the smell of the zoo – that stale water and feces smelled so bad it stung my eyes. The animals’ loud calls for help have all been misunderstood. Imagine what they would be saying if you could only understand their language. I wonder if each group/herd/pack has their own separate dialect or other form of communication used only between family members and close friends. I wouldn’t be surprised if lions released from these zoos are harassed for their Zoo accents and different cultures. Those animals completely secluded from the real world would be analogous to a person living in a bubble, only taught by the knowledge of the people they lived with. Even with curiosity and a creative imagination, there is no substitute for immersing yourself in an environment.

The more I think about their position in their societies, the more I see that these animals are spoiled by the daily meals and easily accessible mates. What survival skills do they have if we basically hand them fillet? Almost all of the animals came in packs, or at least, pairs. Your best friends are with you 8 hours a day posing for pictures until you go home to your cage (with no TV or internet to pass the time). You can never understand a word your boss says to you, but he has this horrifying power of withholding the rewards you think you deserve. And worst of all, any complaints are received in deaf ears – or even worse, seen as a sign of aggression. What choice do you have?

It sounds similar to a pampered slave where their only purpose in life is their existence and a continual conformist attitude (cough, movie stars, cough). Would you take the blue pill like this lion or the red pill and open your eyes to cold-blooded murder? The more I see of the real world, a part of me wants to retreat back to my caged life with prepared meals and predetermined schedules. Oh, how I missed that life where responsibility is replaced by dependency – If only I realized this potential for mischievous actions.

I was this caged animal set free to a larger cage in this larger zoo where you need to fend for yourself and look for your own mate. What did my smaller cage experience contribute to make this adjustment smoother? Not surprisingly, it wasn’t from those teachers with whips who tried to poison my brain with stupid tricks. No – it was the common sense and initiative to learn new skills. An indescribable instinct formed to evaluate choices and weigh decisions. The concept of responsibility and consequence slowly crept into each fold of the brain and built a foundation. Why is everything a cage?

Err, I think I’ve overanalyzed the zoo enough today.

~See Lemons Take Pictures of Aminals

An Itinerary in Osaka for clear skies

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Perfectly placed balloon 🙂

Random Observation/Comment #38: Your brain only visually focuses on a section not much larger than your two thumbs at arms distance – everything else is just jumbled together in peripherals. Scenery like the ones from the top of mountains and towers blow my mind. These eyes pay so much attention to detail that I can barely notice the pixels =P.

The weekend was supposed to be a JETs filled crazy time, but one major detail slipped my mind between the essence of JETs and tourists. JETs (think of them as Japanese English Teachers even though it’s really called the Japan Exchange & Teaching Program) are vampires and tourists are zombies. JETs party all night and morning, waking at the crack of noon for some breakfast and a solution to their hangover (which probably leads to an earlier drinking schedule – it’s a vicious cycle). The weekends are free time to drink with friends and coworkers, and celebrate the blessing of a few days with a little less responsibility.

Tourists also haven’t got a worry in their world, but tend to stay awake when the rest of the world is awake for the best lighting effects and regional attractions. They feel an obligation to put their most effort into having a relaxing vacation (I didn’t know relaxing required this much effort). I actually think the super hi-tech, expensive cameras have latched onto their minds and pulled them to capture their next scenery shot and perspective. Who’s controlling whom? You must feed the camera or it will eat you. It whispers to me in the middle of the night during the weekdays (because the bulk of my photography work occurs on Saturdays and Sundays). I was wondering why the battery needed a recharge when I didn’t even touch the camera until a week ago. And yet, it stays powered for a full day of picture-taking – as it continuously feasts on the shades of life around me. I am, in all the descriptions possible, a tourist.

I stayed within the main Umeda area, knowing that I would eventually meet up with the JETs whenever they woke up. It was already my 4th weekend in Umeda, so I had already visited Yodobashi Umeda, HEP5, the whole Namba area, Osakajo Koen, Osaka Castle, DEN DEN Town, and Ebisucho. However, today was special. The clear skies and cool breeze was an indication to climb upwards. All of my past experiences with Umeda hinted rain, so I had put off visiting the Floating Garden Observatory (even when it taunted me with every Hankyu train ride). I’m glad I patiently waited for a clear day, and I suggest those with the clear skies opportunity to definitely head upwards for a birds-eye view.

The Floating Garden Observatory is an instant favorite from the very first sight of the beautiful reflective windows and large halo that connects the two adjacent buildings. The cross-beams and bridges (which are actually escalators between floors) add this exquisite flair. I was initially reluctant to face my terrible fear of heights, but my camera must have taken control of my body. I wasn’t exactly dragged kicking and screaming because my knees were mush and my legs were too weak to put up a fight. For some reason, I thought there was going to be glass floors like that tower in Seattle. Good thing there wasn’t because I would have shat a brick.

For those who can’t even climb a stool without getting scared of heights, I would not suggest going up here – actually I suggest you take care of that fear with some tough love. Any fear of heights less than that should be fine since everything looked like a very detailed painting to me. The windows don’t even angle outwards at the top so you could look directly down (my heart is beating faster just thinking about lying on one of these, 40-stories up). The top floor, right before the roof, is tiled white with cute little clear seats on every side of the circle (not the outside though). There are elevated chairs and strategically placed cafes around this floor. I’ve personally found this floor is better than the roof for photography purposes.

The very top has these ugly gray spikes all along the perimeter to prevent crazy tourists from jumping the fence or something. These annoyances force me to zoom-in, or at the very least aim for 65:35 sky:building ratio (which just isn’t my style). You’re actually not even close to the edge of anything (probably to prevent people from throwing stuff off the roof) so the fear of heights should be replaced by the awe of the 360 view. I spent most of my time trying to find some type of detail to focus my gaze. I always feel better to see moving cars in the distance when I’m in these picture perfect situations. It’s like the little pinch or nudge that makes sure I’m not dreaming (or looking at a large postcard poster wrapped around the building).

If you want to get in the scenery and not show up as a silhouette, your camera must be set with a flash (preferably SL to light up the background as well). The overcast doesn’t help, but since you can angle yourself towards the sun, I’m sure you’ll find a manageable angle and blend of squinty faces and shadows. Hmm, I bet this would look absolutely breath-taking at sunset, but I’ll have to adjust my schedule so I’m not exhausted by 5PM.

Anyway, the pictures in the air conditioned top floor were perfect as long as you chose a window that was not dirty (most were very clean) and there wasn’t a light source behind you to cause any glare. You’ll probably get great pictures of 3 out of the 4 winds. Out of the 60 or some odd pictures I took, I really love the view that follows the train tracks across the river and into the distant city – you’ll know what I’m talking about when you get there.

To highlight my day, I met a large group of high school Alabamians who were all sight-seeing and following a 10-day exchange program, similar to the one I attended 5 years ago (damn – I’m old). I spent about an hour following their friendly tour guide and spoke with the students and teachers. They picked my brain while we walked around and had lunch together. I’ll dedicate a completely separate entry to them because I don’t want to stray from my topic of “places to go in Umeda if the sky is clear.” I’ll leave the reflections of my past and suggestions for the future separate.

This entry is getting dreadfully long, so I’ll outline what I did this weekend and write in more detail throughout the week:

Saturday:

10AM – Flower Garden Observatory – this entry

12 PM – Lunch with Exchange Program Alabama Students – next entry

1PM – Tenjinbashi 6-chome – 3rd entry

1:30PM – Tsutenkaku Tower with Billiken

2:30PM – Tennoji Zoo

5:30PM – Spa World – 4th entry

8:30PM – Shabu shabu dinner

10:00PM – Namba and Dotonbori wandering

11:00PM – Met up with JETs for a quick talk and introduction

11:45PM – Head home because I was exhausted and didn’t want to spend what I approximated to be $15 Karaoke, $35 Pure, and $25 Capsule hotel

Sunday: – Kobe entry, maybe separate entry for shabu shabu reflections

10:00AM – Head towards Kobe – Rokko Mountain

12:00PM – Cable car & bus rides

12:45PM – Rokko Garden Terrace

2:30PM – Mt. Rokko Country Club

4:00PM – Cable car & bus ride – commute was terrible

5:30PM – Shopping for groceries to make my own Shabu Shabu dinner =)

7:30PM – Flight of the Conchords!

9:00PM – Ping pong!

Monday: Holiday stroll entry

9:00AM – No bus…

9:30AM – No train… Oh, a holiday!

10:00AM – Decide on Kobe

10:30AM – Forgot Camera, head back home

11:00AM – Back to the Hankyu Railway

11:30AM – Sannomiya

12:00PM – Shinkobe

1:00PM – Got lost on a trail

1:30PM – backtracked to find some waterfalls

2:00PM – Hike up the mountain

3:30PM – Walk through the garden

4:30PM – Cable car ride of 100 pictures

5:00PM – Back home

6:30PM – Shabu shabu again!

~See Lemons Love These Blue Skies