So the theme of being in Japan is that things change constantly, and quickly. Some of the stuff I mentioned I was going to be doing in the last post never actually happened and some other things did happen. Going to Tokyo was a little too last minute and getting people together was hard, so the idea got axed. We still have two more weekends we could potentially go though. It might actually be a better idea to wait, since the weather will be a lot cooler.

You know you’ve been in an abnormally hot climate when the temperature is 74 degrees and you feel compelled to put on a long sleeve cardigan and jeans. While walking around you get chills and think to yourself that it’s actually cold outside. The weather the last two days has been like that. Granted it’s been rainy and overcast, but gorgeously windy and cool. It’s hilarious to think that back home when it used to hit 74 I would think it was really hot outside. Needless to say I think I got conditioned to the weather really quickly. After being a sweaty mess constantly for the last few weeks, I love being able to walking around in pants and a long sleeve shirt.

Last weekend was pretty busy for most of the international students. It was our first long weekend so most people went out and explored. While I didn’t do anything big I still went out around the area. Friday night a ton of people went out to an izakaya downtown. An izakaya is what bars here are called if they serve food and alcohol. The place we went to had food and drinks for 300 yen. Most places to go to are located in downtown Hirakata, including the train station as well. We almost always take the bus to get downtown because it’s easier and quicker. However, all the buses and trains in Japan stop running at 11, so on nights that we stay out late we make the 30 or so minute walk back to the dorm. Most of the walk is fine, but there is a huge hill that you have to walk up. Also keep in mind that most roads don’t have sidewalks so you spend most of the time almost getting hit by cars. The people here are accustomed to it and can avoid us but it doesn’t stop being strange that your only inches away from cars flying past you. This is walk that Peter, Tim, Jess and I all made the first time we came to Hirakata back in August. At the time it was almost a 100 degrees outside and I hadn’t walked, much less exercised, in a really long time. I think I wrote about that walk being absolutely excruciating. Now it doesn’t seem like anything. People in Japan walk everywhere and I’ve gotten accustomed to doing the same thing. I’ve also lost weight by doing so. Eating different food, smaller portions and walking constantly has made me feel better than I’ve felt in a long time. I feel healthier. It doesn’t stop me from missing my car any less or the convenience it provides, but it helps me see things from a different perspective. I hope when I come home that I can stay motivated enough to make sure I keep walking and running everyday.

Saturday I went into Osaka with my roommates. I had been hearing about a place called Sweets Paradise from a few people. Any one who knows me, knows I love desserts. Sweets Paradise is an all you can eat sweets restaurant. They had some pasta and savory food too, but the main highlight is obviously the desserts. I loaded my plate up with all the dessert I could manage to eat and it was amazing. The funny thing about desserts and sweets here is the taste. While it still tastes amazing, it’s not as heavy as desserts are back home. They definitely put less sugar in them, which makes it harder to stop eating since you don’t feel like it’s as bad for you.

After that awesome experience, we scoped out the Pokemon Center for two of the people I was with. A new Pokemon game was released that day so they were giddy about buying it. I haven’t actually played any of the games except for the first two, red and blue. So I didn’t recognize any of the Pokemon there other than Pikachu.

After some decision-making, some of the group decided to head back to Hirakata. Jenna and I took a train to meet up with Tim, Jess, Kayo, Samara and some other people in Shinsaibashi. Shinsaibashi is the shopping district in Osaka. Walking around there made for really interesting people watching. Being in Osaka is a totally different experience than being in Hirakata. When I stayed in Osaka when I first came to Japan it wasn’t in a very big part of the city, so I never experienced exactly what the downtown area felt like. We spent a long time just walking around and doing a bit of shopping. There was a gigantic electronics store that I did not want to leave. There were walls and walls of video games. There is another place in Osaka called DenDen Town that is the electronics district, so I decided to hold off buying things until I go there and check out what they have. We ended up walking into Amerika Mura, also known as Amemura, as well. Other than Kyoto, I’ve yet to see this many foreigners in one place. It was packed and had some of the strangest stores and clothing I’ve seen in Japan. There were also some expensive designer stores randomly placed around the street. We found the main part of Shinsaibashi, but we walked through it pretty quickly. Our goal was to reach the enormous H&M at the end of street. I’ve never been in a store with so many people. Even on days at Apple when you could barely walk, it didn’t compare to this. The dressing room lines were INSANE and took forever. In the end I didn’t buy anything since I figured I could get most of it easily back home. Shinsaibashi is a really big part of the city, so I only got a glimpse of what there is down there. Just like Kyoto, I’m sure I’ll go back there more than a few times to just to be able to see all there is.

After that point, it was dark out and it had been a really long day for most of us, so Jess, Jenna, and I headed back to Hirakata while the rest of group stayed to go to clubbing later that night. Jess and I decided to get Yakiniku from a place downtown called Toriki. All in the all the two days were good, if not tiring. Since this post is already pretty long I’ll end here. Since the next day, Sunday, was easily the best day I’ve had in Japan so far.

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