We'd booked to catch the overnight bus from Osaka to Tokyo, which took about 12 hours. We were a little bleary eyed that day as it was New Years Day, so it was a good job that we decided to leave the hotel at 12 to try and find the spot where the bus would leave from at 9:30 that night. The information that we were given is that it would leave from Kansai University Hospital, and the man in the hotel gave us plenty of information on how to get there.
A couple of trains later and we were in what felt like a post apocalyptic movie, where the only person who had survived was the station master. The streets were dead and all of the small shops were shuttered. The station master pointed straight ahead for the hospital, and as we looked at the maps we realised that it was a small village just filled with university hospitals. The bus left from outside the Family Mart, but try as we may we couldn't find one anywhere.
The pink suitcase which had turned out to be the white elephant of the holiday that I had to drag around with me turned out to be particularly burdensome, so Nick deposited me, along with all the luggage, on a wall outside of the station with my Kindle, while he took a better look. I sat there reading while I heard trains come and go, the odd person would amble past and every now and then a white bag would roll down the street, the sun started to get lower and eventually my little spot on the wall was swallowed up by shadows. An hour and a half passed and Nick finally came back, looking the most dejected that I'd ever seen him look. He said that he'd walked for miles, tried talking to anyone he could find, had a history lesson about Scotland from an old man, but still didn't know where the bus left from.
I checked our papers and noticed a number it said to call for emergencies, but that the line was Japanese only, but with Nick looking so deflated it was worth a try. I went in search of a phone at the station, and the Station Master said the only one was on the platform, but he kindly let me through, when I got there, it only took 100yen pieces, so I had to go on the hunt for them. Eventually, I called the number and the woman when I asked if she could speak English curlty replied with 'No'. But she must have heard my desperation when I said 'HELP' as she gave me a number to call. Unfortunately I didn't have a pen so my best MAC lipstick had to suffice.
Finally it turned out we were at the wrong university hospital and needed to travel further out of Osaka. So happily we left the tiny town of Takaii in hunt of the next University hospital.
It took 5 minutes to find it once we were at the right station, so we dumped our luggage in a locker, went for food and then spent the last hour watching Attenborough in a Starbucks.
When we got to the bus station, the bus was waiting there, or so we thought, so we showed the man our ticket, who said that we weren't booked on that bus. Cue another panic from Nick, until a rather swanky bus pulled up and we realised that was ours. The bus had massive seats with hoods over them so that you could shield your face from the light, or if you're like me and sleep with your mouth wide open, hide your embarassing gawpiness from other passengers.
The hotel was smack bang in the centre of Shibuya, which we couldn't have asked for any better. We went for breakfast at Starbucks so we could use their Wifi to plan the rest of the two days that we had left. We decided to make the most of the amazing day and the deadly quiet that had engulfed Tokyo in the early hours of the New Years holiday and headed to Yoyogi park.
We followed people old and young, girls dressed in harajuku clothing to old ladies who looked like they hardly owned any clothes apart from the ones that they were stood in. The ten minute walk was fascinating as it was so green, you didn't feel like you were just on the edge of Tokyo and right next to Harajuku. As we got to the temple, the people filtered into queues to properly enter it, so we decided to leave that area and head back towards Harajuku.
On our way we noticed a big queue and realised it was for the Shinto fortunte. At the start of the year, you must select a slip of paper which tells you your fortune for the year. You do this by shaking a small wooden box which contains lots of small, thin pieces of wood. There is a small hole in the top of the box, and when you feel ready you tip it. Each piece of wood has a number on it which corresponds with your forecast for the year, Nick and I are in need of someone to translate it for us!
We decided to go to the Imperial Palace first, and although we were aware that it was going to be closed, we expected it to be like the Osaka castle, where you could still see the building and walk through the grounds, but unfortunately you weren't allowed to cross the bridge into the grounds.
Add to this the fact we had an 8am flight the next morning, but only discovered then that the air port was an hour and a half outside of Tokyo, meaning we would be leaving at a time when public transport wouldn't be running so the ludicrously expensive taxis were the only option. We were not happy bunnies and this all added to the end of the holiday blues.
We had our last bowl of ramen and decided to call it a day on our day of failures. We lazed in making the most of BBC World News and packed.
Tokyo had been the part of the holiday that I was most looking forward to as it was somewhere that I had always wanted to go. I think because of the time of year we went (New Year) it didn't live up to expectations, and compared to how well everything went in Osaka, I would definitely recommend Osaka to anyone over Tokyo. I would like to go back if I had the chance to visit the Ghibli museum, but it was Osaka that gave me the experience of Japan that I'd always imagined it to be.
On the way home we got the most amazing view of Mount Fuji, then from high above in the plane, we could see that the ground of Busan was covered in snow. It felt nice coming back to a place that feels like a home from home, where things are strange but that I've somehow managed to make sense of all the weird goings on in Korea.