Saturday, August 29, 2015

Day 39 - Queues and Crowds: Going on my own to Osaka - and Universal Studios Japan

Today was another very exciting day, because I went from Kyoto to Osaka alone and had to find the right train and car by myself the first time. So I finally figured out, where to queue on the platform. In Japan, people don't just wait somewhere on the platform and then scramble around doors of an arriving train. Everything is much more organized: On the display board you find along with the train info a symbol (a circle, triangle, or arrow) and two numbers connected by a wavy line (because a "-" is a Japanese character). The symbol tells you where to queue because on the platform floor, it is clearly marked which car of which train type (circle, triangle, or arrow) will stop where. And it is also important to check whether your queue is for the right car because some cars are only for women and not all trains have the same number of cars (1-12 is a full train, 2-10 a shorter train and 4-8 a very short train).
To further organize the waiting and boarding process, it is even marked on the platform floor where the fist persons should put their feet and that one should build two lines each. Guess why? The left queue will board from the left side of the door and the right queue from the other - and through the corridor in the middle arriving passenger leave the train. In order the system to work, of course the engineers need to stop every train at a certain position very exactly. It can get not more organized than that! It must be funny to watch a time-lapse video of a busy Japanese platform during rush hour when every two or three minutes one third of the queues board trains while constantly people arrive and constantly people queue somewhere. 

I found the right track and train and queue and car, and was very happy to finally arrive in Shin-Osaka. This is the new Osaka station and very big. There are probably 20 floors with train tracks or shops or offices, and I had to find this H&M-like clothing shop UNIQLO..... As you can imagine I felt pretty lost among all the crowds streaming through the station. And as if it wasn't depressing enough, I didn't even find a station map! After 20 minutes (really, 20 minutes!) I finally found a man in an uniform, a ticket staff that helps you buying subway tickets, whom I asked whether he knew where I would find UNIQLO. He laughed, because he probably thought I would ask him to go shopping. Actually I had no intention to buy clothes, but my friend thought that shop would be a good meeting point. Fortunately he could tell me the way and I was so relieved and pretty exhausted when I found her.....

It was USJ-day: Universal Studios Japan! At the entry we first of all got a Hello Kitty sticker for some reason, we took pictures with Shrek and Marilyn and rode a rollercoaster. So cool that you can choose a personal song you want to listen during your ride! We certainly needed a refresher and bought frozen fruit - iced pineapple and mango. After we've seen a really cool performance of four African Americans for a stronger Hollywood feeling, we nearly melted in that heat and my friend brought some so called deodorant refreshing tissues that you wipe on your skin and if wind blows, cools you down a little with some fresh peppermint smell. Nice.

Because it was vacation time in Japan, USJ was very crowded so that you had to wait in a queue for about 5 minutes to get a drink from the beverage vending machines. Fortunately we did not die of thirst, but nearly became deaf because of that "funny" photograph at the Jaws White Shark that screamed raucously after every shot..... Two times we had to quit the queues after thirty mins or even one hour of waiting, because we had to get to Hogwarts in a certain time frame. The first time a mother with her daughter came, from Thailand, and asked whether we could change tickets because they had to leave before they even could go in (as soon as you get into USJ, you have to take a ticket to get to Hogwarts, so that it doesn't get overfilled, because everyone wants to see it, because there are only two Harry Potter theme parks in the world). So we exchanged our tickets and decided to go to the Spiderman attraction, where we made 2 of 5 queues in one hour - omg. 

Hogwarts castle (miniature)

Hogsmeade with different shops like Honey Duke's...
Funny that they created the houses with snow and
icicles, matching the 34 degrees weather very well.

In the evening, we counter-invited my friend's family to a German restaurant in Osaka. When my friend and me got there, my father was already waiting - angrily: they had kicked us out from our reserved table for a bigger group! Unbelievable. Because it is the only German restaurant in whole Kansai area, we had no alternative and ended up at a micro table for five persons. Because we ordered about 15 beers in the end, the table was quite overfilled with plates and food and drinks. After all, it was a nice and funny evening, mainly due to the many German beer brands we had to try ;-)

My father then returned to Kyoto by train. Me, my friend and her parents drove to their place by car. We took a quick shower because the grandmother was waiting for us to try yukatas!! (summer version of kimono). I didn't know that this takes so many efforts! Mother in the front, grandmother in the back, cooperating to wrap me in this wonderful looking traditional dress. First a rope to define the yukata length, then a tape to tighten the taille and to set the arrangement, then a quite solid form and the final decorative tape with the (already defined) ribbon. I really felt wonderful in that beautiful fabric, and I loved these special sleeves so much! 

After my friend had been dressed, we went to the rooftop and made some fireworks together with her younger brother and her mother! For that I got some wooden slippers that were waaaay to small for my broad and size 40 feet. But they made the same sound that you hear sometimes in the streets from traditional wooden slippers. You feel a little like a penguin, because you cannot move your feet more than a distance of 30 cm from each other... Wonderful Osaka skyline in the background with shiny lights from our fireworks - amazing.

No comments:

Post a Comment