(Please excuse my swapping from past / present / past / present text. I wrote this in a book while in Japan and am too tired to edit)
I’d read that I may encounter some difficulties when attempting to take out money using a MasterCard in Japan, and I was anxious to test that I could use regular ATMs. I navigated from the gate, via a monorail, to the terminal and rushed over to the first one I found.
It worked. I stuffed my travel wallet full of Yen and felt at ease – and on the hunt for omiyage.
Something I forgot to mention – something that a select few know about me – I have a deep, abiding, all consuming and constant craving for okonomiyaki. At home, at work, in the shower, driving, eating, breathing – always, always okonomiyaki. Not the rubbish we have in Australia. I mean visiting an Okonomiyaki restaurant with the hotplate and yakisoba and beer. Thick savoury pancakes with delicious morsels of octopus, prawn, pork, beef – carefully prepared by a talented chef, gently covered in tonkatsu sauce and served, steaming hot, to your table – after which you get to add your own mayonnaise, seaweed and – to top it off, all the thin, smoky wonderful katsuobashi you can eat. I’m salivating. My stomach is morse coding okonomiyaki to me. It is contorting into the ESL for “okonomiyaki”.
Have you seen the episode of the Simpsons where Moe steals the Flaming Homer and everything becomes Moe? This is me. I am Homer. Everything is Okomoemiyaki.
I digress. After checking in, before getting my room key, I asked the woman at the front counter to point out a good okonomiyaki restaurant and after unceremoniously dumping my bags in my room, I set off to Dotombori.
Nearing sunset, the city was so beautiful. The sky was stained with orange and pinky purple, which reflected off the canal. It was a surprisingly peaceful contrast to the bright flashing lights – the welcome intrusion of colour and neon – gaudy figurines / mascots of restaurants loom overhead, street vendors offer their food, vending machines beckon, music blares from pachinko halls and stores and people – people everywhere – converging on the eateries and bars – with the beautiful, serene sunset pinned neatly behind.
Post meal (I would describe it in detail, but I feel like I have covered the topic of okonomiyaki enough, for now), I wandered around Dotombori avoiding the side streets because I didn’t quite trust my sense of direction yet, and returned to my hotel.
Considering how affordable my room was, it was extremely nice. Even without the low cost to offset any unpleasantness, it was great. It had a separate entry with a couple of pairs of roomy pyjamas, slippers, a small but very functional bathroom, a bidet (which I couldn’t figure out how to use right away), a giant bed, remote control and automatic lighting, and air conditioning. I unpacked a bit, plugged in my electronics to charge, said hi to Tim and the kittybads and promptly fell asleep.