As someone who’s used to living on a giant rock in the middle of nowhere, it usually takes about ten trillion hours for me to fly anywhere other than New Zealand or Antarctica. So when visa extension issues in Taiwan required me to leave the country temporarily this past weekend…well, how could I resist a brief jaunt in Osaka when it’s only two-and-a-bit hours away?
(For obvious reasons.)
I won’t lie, though: living in Tokyo long-term became a drain on me both physically and emotionally after a while, and by the end of my time there I was incredibly grateful to have my friends and family — another life — to return to in Australia. But visitng Japan again this weekend was a reminder of all the wonderful parts of being in that country, without the downside of having to live there as an expatriate again. Somehow I’d forgotten how liberating it can be to spend time as a maddeningly cheerful gaikokujin tourist when the only expectations placed on you are that you help stimulate the local economy. (And basic human decency. That too.)
Anyhow, I don’t plan to bore everyone with an exact itinerary of every favourite shop I revisited or how many plates of conveyor belt sushi I destroyed with my appetite (
twelve! I think I’m losing my touch), but here are some of the highlights (well, one of the highlights. The draft of this post was getting a tad long, so I’m splitting it into parts):
The Grand Front Kinokuniya with a Starbucks ~AND~ an Ito-ya inside
Kinokuniya is one of my favourite bookstore chains in the world and, when I’m not poor, the gorgeous Japanese stationery store Ito-ya is my favourite place to go when I’m in the Ginza area. So to have two branches of these meccas of paper and writing, plus easy access to caffeine next door to each other? Well, it’s a good thing they don’t have anything that could be used as bedding nearby, because I’d probably just move in on a semi-permanent basis.
Thanks to luggage constraints, I managed to restrain myself from draining my bank account on the whole BL section.
I bought just one volume of manga: Finder volume 7. That’s correct, I’m so cheap, I waited 9 frikkin’ months to buy it in person so I could save on shipping costs. This edition came with one of the limited edition booklets featuring another comedic AU story starring Akihito as the most (sexily) undermined company manager in history. And because I was feeling a little bit wicked and a little bit nostalgic, I asked the poor sales girl to slice through the plastic and wrap it up in Kinokuniya paper — as if I actually had the balls to read it in public. Which, no.
Anyway, Starbucks still make terrible coffee no matter where you are in the world, but after a day of tramping around the JR Osaka station area and trying not to be (completely) overwhelmed by this capitalist paradise of incredibly beautiful things, I was happy to put my feet up with a cup of trusty mocha (カフェ モカ) and watch the passing parade.
My one manga-related regret about this trip: I had to leave Osaka one (one!) day before the new Viewfinder chapter in BexBoy Gold came out, which means I now have to wait for my local Taiwanese Animate to airmail it in instead. It’s a hard life.