The first day, after my watch, I went out with the same person that had complained so much the last time. It was his last day and he had been having trouble getting a liberty buddy because of his tendency to wear out his welcome around people. One of the things about riders is they never stay long enough to form friendships so I can see how its hard to adapt being thrown into a new group of people on a monthly basis. Managed to get off the ship fairly early and headed out to a geocache that was nearby. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to figure out which building it was on top of so we had to move on to another.
The first cache was located on a building by a street called Den Den, out in the open and in view of the throng of people that was constantly passing by. This made it very tricky to get to because not only did I have to watch for people but traffic had a tendency to bunch up on that block, those things and the building security guard made for an interesting experience, both in retrieving and replacing the cache.
The second cache was a very cleverly disguised hide by the Gates of Kuromon. This place I wish I had had a chance to walk through because it looked like an awesome place to grab some food because all of the restaurants lined up on both sides of the covered street. Settled for a picture instead before moving on to an internet café so that my friend could look up directions to a Super Autobac, something like a Checker parts store but on steroids.
Armed with our Mapquest printout we sallied forth onto the Osaka subway system. For me it was something new and interesting, for my liberty buddy it was shear insanity. I guess he had thought his experience in Tokyo would carry him through but after watching him flounder for about twenty minutes…hey, it was amusing ;), I pointed out the nearest information stand and we got a more detailed print out of the privately owned lines of the subway system. After arriving in east Osaka we made a stop at a Mr. Donut and the Autobac store, pretty interesting place, if you want to trick out your car that place pretty much has what you need, priced accordingly.
Flipped on the gps and went after the last cache of the day. This one was pretty tricky as well, though not in a dodge millions of people way. Made it all the way over to the hide and my gps decided to go bonkers, first saying the coordinates where on one side of the street then the other. There was a pedestrian foot bridge nearby so that made it easier to get a crossed, most of the time it is a game of frogger when you use the cross walks in a foreign country. Luckily I had my PDA with me and I scoured through the description for clues, finally seizing on the fact that the cache was in an entrance. Armed with this new information I boldly started my search and managed to find the cache itself. A short leap and it was mine, inside was an interesting travel bug as well. Normally people will put the travel bug (TB) tags on a little toy, this TB looked like a full sized cell phone. Flipping it open revealed that it was just a display model though, more on this later.
After finding the cache we started to head back to the ship. My liberty buddy had just started to freak out again because he was trying to send out a package to a friend in Japan but none of the places that we stopped had the right service for him. He received a break after calling one of his friends and she told him that the 7/11 would send it out for him. We had been passing these convenience stores all day so it was simple to find one and send out his package. After doing so we found a street vender and purchased some food. My liberty buddy had some Yakisoba and I tried a dish that he said Osaka was famous for Okonomiyaki, kind of a crepe . It was pretty cool when they brought it out to us because it had some fish skin on it and the heat from the food made it look like it was alive. One small note, this was the first real food that we had eaten all day besides the Mr. Donut stop.
Managed to make it back to the bus stop and grabbed some more grub. This time it was a simple wrapped rice cake and some spiced chicken. Managed to catch an early bus because my liberty buddy had to get ready to leave the next day and the fact that I had been up for three days with as many hours sleep. All and all a good day, managed to contain my liberty buddies complaining by making him navigate our way to most of the destinations. That provided entertainment for me and a way for him to vent as well.
The next day started a bit late because my new liberty buddies needed to rest after having duty the previous day. This gave me time to log my finds and make sure I had everything together for the day. Going back to the TB that I had collected the previous day, managed to find out where it had come from. Seems that it had started out in Germany, made a quick stop in the states, and had came right back to Europe to bounce around nearly forty times before finally getting to Japan. Headed out with a couple of people but joined with a couple more after we arrived at the bus stop because we were going to the same places.
Stopped for some sushi before heading out, made it to the Osaka castle grounds and toured the castle. It was pretty impressive going up to the top and getting pictures of the surrounding city. After going back inside the levels were set up to show the history of the castle and the clans that had made history in Japan. Some of the displays had little hologram type pictures and some of the scale recreations were very impressive. Afterwards a quick stop for ice cream yielded cheery blossom flavored ice cream and a funny picture of my liberty buddies and myself using a cut out background.
Managed to grab another cache by the castle, this one made use of an information sign and was another tricky find. Every time I thought I had a clear shot another person would come from the subway or around the corner. Finally convinced my liberty buddies to run interference so that I could make the find.
After the castle we made a run to the aquarium. Made it right before sunset and enjoyed some McDonalds before heading into the aquarium to enjoy the wildlife there. It was pretty cool to see the massive manta ray and whale shark. Definitely makes me think twice on going scuba diving that is for sure. They also had a large tank with massive spider crabs, made me think of the walkers from the new War of the Worlds movie.
Upon leaving the aquarium I nabbed one last geocache. I really enjoyed this one because after finding it I found that it was about the size of a credit card but had the log and a pen stored in it. Very compact and very cool, the night made it difficult to take a good picture of the harbor but I did try.
Passing through the nearby mall we made our way to the giant Farris wheel. Passing through we saw what appeared to be a ninja out in the hallway. Getting into the glass incased car we started on our way up. Now, I have a slight fear of heights so as the car went up farther and farther up it became pretty difficult to hold my camera because of my slick palms. Coming back down prevented a heart attack and we did go back to see the ninja in the mall. Heading down to the ground level we stopped for some ice cream again. This time it was green tea with sweet beans.
After the subway ride back ended with two of our company getting massages while the rest of us explored the subway. Afterwards we entered the mall above the subway and viewed some street dancers before heading back to the bus station. All and all it was a very enjoyable experience. I had a blast visiting Osaka and look forward to the chance to coming back.