Japan ii: The first night
We checked in around 8 PM at J-Hoppers Hostel in Fukushima after a 70 minute ride on the JR line from the airport. I thought that we had all booked spaces in the mixed dorms, but my friends had gone ahead and booked a triple room for themselves. J-Hoppers offered me a space in the ladies only dorm and I took it hastily. The dorms are small but the beds (bunk-beds) are really comfortable. There are several showers and bathrooms and it's pretty clean.
After resting, changing, and freshening up for all of about 20 minutes we were ready to check out what the Fukushima area had to offer.
The road on which J-Hoppers is situated is packed with tiny, adorable Japanese bars and restaurants. We popped into an Izakaya (Japanese Tapas [small plates]) bar and within minutes we were off to the races on the Shochu tap. Shochu is not Sake and it's not Soju. It can be made from rice or grain product as well as potatoes (there are sweet potato varieties too) and molasses among others. Kampai.
We were served these soba noodles and at that point didn't understand that there was a cover charge and this was all we were going to get for it. Be careful! There are typically cover charges at all restaurants and tax is excluded (unlike Korea to which we have grown accustomed).
Ham and Eggs over Japan-easy.
Tofu with bonito flakes that looked like they were alive.
This Sweet Potato was hard. It was not my favourite.
Chicken Karrage - basically just Japanese Fried Chicken. Super tasty.
We made friends with the table next to us and I learned some key Japanese terms. Armed with a little lingo and a little liquid courage we made the decision to head out on the town for real.
The crazy subway system. The Subway and JR are different tickets and no, you may not use a Subway ticket just anywhere you have to use it at the point of purchase.
After what felt like an eternity we got to the Dotonbori (bori means canal) area. This is where you'll see the Glico Running Man (the symbol of a candy company that has basically become THE symbol of the Dotonbori in Osaka). There are many theatres in this area, as well as a number of cafes, bars, and restaurants. There is also a Forever 21 in this area for all those expats in Korea looking for Forever 21. There's an H&M too - I popped my head in there but the prices were actually 3x as much for the exact same pieces in Korea. Japan is expensive.
We ran into some other expats who are DJ's and promoters in Osaka. They took us to a club that was in a building that looked like really snazzy offices. Up to an unspecified floor we went where cover was 6 Yen inclusive of a drink. Being that it was a Wednesday night the place wasn't exactly packed but seats were plentiful, the LED light show was cool, and we met some rad people.
After leaving the club we went through Shinsaibashi to find food and soak up the atmosphere for a while. The area was entirely devoid of human interaction which is so bizarre - even in my little area of Busan (Hwamyeong) on any given night you'll see people out and about socializing.
In the light of day our cute little Izayaka bar was nearly unrecognizable. We took our already weary selves to the subway to start what would become: "Osaka in just one day".