Pottering around Namba

This morning we were back down to TOHO cinemas in Namba for an exclusive (well, us and 452 others) showing of Detective Pikachu… aka ‘Deadpool Does a Pokemon film’.  We took a slightly risky approach to pick up tickets for this movie choosing to buy tickets online on a Japanese website that was translated using Google Translate, which means we were about 75% certain it was going to be in English with Japanese subtitles, and not dubbed into Japanese!  Collecting the tickets was not in any way reassuring…
The complex is huge, we had to go up about four stories to find our cinema. Mr K is into the popcorn as per usual and we found our seats without any problem – and then the waiting.  Watching the ads (all in Japanese), watching the trailers (in a mix of Japanese and English), then the cinema etiquette PSAs (all in Japanese) and then the opening credits of the film… until finally some dialogue and SCORE!  It’s in English!   Phew!

One thing that is definitely noticeable in Japan is the amount of English everywhere – you don’t see this much English in most other non-Enligsh speaking countries anywhere.  There are English menus in every restaurant, English on the information directory of any shopping centre and department store, on trains, train platforms and even in elevators for any sort of public announcements in any public area, will be in Japanese and English everywhere – no matter how big the city or how small the town.

The Japanese are not at risk of seeing their language being subsumed by English, but they are far more tolerant of this intrusion into their everyday lives than many other cultures would be – can you imagine how Australians would react if we had every public sign, menu, or public announcement in both English and Chinese or something?  They’d be apoplectic.  Hell, they probably wouldn’t even be happy if they were suddenly being bombarded by English and an indigenous language.
The movie was great fun btw – the story, the world, and the Pokemon were all very cleverly executed.  I know a lot of people at home who are looking forward to seeing it and I am sure they won’t’ be disappointed.

Afterwards, we went poking around the other shopping district near Namba… the not-Dotonburi side. Yay Golden Week, everything is packed cheek to jowl, but again, very polite crowds everywhere we went.  The Japanese are a very orderly people, they will keep left when walking on streets and footpaths, they rarely seem to walk like four abreast the way Americans habitually seem to do, taking up an entire sidewalk while talking loudly and failing to notice that people are trying to get around them.  There are a few weirdnesses to this though that have been doing my head in all week…

Tokyo – When walking, keep left. On stairs, keep left. On escalators, keep left.
Kyoto – When walking, keep left. On stairs, keep right. On escalators keep left!
Osaka – When walking, keep left. On stairs, keep right. On escalators keep right!

It makes no sense – yet everyone seems to have it sorted.  Half the time there are arrows on the ground in very big areas like large train stations directing you to do exactly this – why they don’t have one protocol across all cities, I’ll never know.

Shopping for chopsticks and sunscreen and kites and find… sake heaven!

After a bit of shopping, we went looking for a place for lunch and found this bizarre fishing restaurant.  I’d say it’s got tourist trap all over it, but for the fact that it is full of locals having fun.

You come in, take up a seat have a look at what fresh fish are in the tanks, then buy some bait for Y100 and borrow a rod and go fish to catch your lunch. The variety of fish was incredible, several types of white fish, shrimps, crayfish, blowfish, shellfish and all sorts.  The restaurant smelled like a seaside restaurant from the saltwater tanks and people seemed to be having a lot of fun fishing.  I wanted to have some salmon and tuna though, so I didn’t have to fish for those.  🙂

This restaurant is brand new, so new it’s not even on Google Maps and I was unable to find the name of the place in English.  I did find what is obviously another restaurant in this chain… it was exactly like this place:

After you catch your lunch, the sushi chefs will prepare it for you and voila!  Fresh to the table.
After lunch, we did a bit more shopping.  Today we also went to a Kintetsu department store so I could have a bit more of a dig around the kimono and accessories department.  This lovely ensemble below is JPY388,800, which is roughly AUD$4,986.00 – and I’m not so sure that includes all the accessories depicted. The fabrics are simply gorgeous, and while most of these modern fabrics are no double machine made, I can only imagine how much time and effort went into making elaborate kimono prior to industrialization. I adore the hair ornaments which is what I really came up here to look for – by ‘up here’ I mean the 8th floor of the department store – seems most large department stores have a traditional dress section and it will usually be located in homewares, which will be above the two levels of food hall (one of which is confectionery), followed by cosmetics and perfume, then two floors of ladieswear, one floor of menswear, one of childrenswear and then onto the homewares etc. So if you want to look for these lovely kimono and accessories, you need to keep going up.

After our shopping was done, we went back to the hotel to get some work done and have a bit of downtime this afternoon.  Tomorrow we are transiting out of Osaka which is promising to be hectic – dragging our luggage through several train stations with Golden Week crowds – yay!

We did end up going out for dinner though and found a tiny ramen noodle bar not far from the hotel.  I’m not overly fond of the soggy noodle, but found a slow-cooked pork dish and some gyoza to wash down with sake for barely AUD$10.  So no complaints here!

Mr K about to chow down on his ‘Double Happiness Ramen Noodles’.

 

Osaka Yuki Art Museum

We set off not so bright and early this morning, after having quite a big day yesterday, and (stupidly it turns out) thought we’d go check out the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan… which is known for being the world’s largest aquarium.  It apparently has an enormously deep tank with whale sharks in it, tunnels for viewing, and of course, my favourite part of any aquarium – an otter enclosure.  However, we forgot about Golden Week, and when we arrived we found this:   for A queue that stretched for about 250m BEFORE it got to the Disney-esque rope lines that were organising visitors into an orderly squish while they waited to line up and buy tickets.  Well, as much as I love the fishes (probably most of which are pilfered from the Great Barrier Reef anyway) and of course the otters, there was no way I was standing in line for several hours to enter into exhibition halls full of overexcited children and semi-distraught, but amused, parents.  So we did an about-face and decided to head to an art museum instead.  So many little takoyaki stalls in/around the aquarium… come see the squids and jellyfishes, don’t forget to eat some before you leave?! Given our late start to the day, we thought we would pop in for some lunch at a cute little curry place.  I love how you order a small curry and you end up with a pile of stuff to try, some of it recognisable, some of it not so much! The Yuki Art Museum is a small gallery dedicated to the objects used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.  The Japanese tea ceremony, or the Way of Tea, is a cultural activity that involves a ritualized ceremonial preparation of matcha, a powdered green tea. This museum house many important Japanese cultural objects, predominantly from the Edo period (approximately 1600-1870), relating to the tea ceremonies (And yes! it was much quieter and more pleasant here than at the aquarium!)

Bamboo tea scoop from the late Edo period, c.1850s Gour used to bear hot water, late 1800s.
Water jar, Ryukyo-Suisya (Willow bridge and water wheel folding screens design) Ninsei studio, also Edo period, 17thC. Water kettle – Yoho (square) type, by Yojiro. Muromachi period, 16th C. Tea bowl and dishes used in Japanese tea ceremony. Tea bowl, mountain and river design, late Edo period, studio of Kenzan, c.1860s. Intricately pierced lacquerware trays, late Edo period 19thC. Tea caddies, Katatsuki (square shouldered type), Seto ware known as Shunzan-Asei, Edo period 17th C.

The objects at this museum were fascinating – they hold a unique place in Japanese cultural history, and you can picture the meditatively quiet and solemn ceremonies they would have been used in. Unfortunately, there were not a lot of plaques with English content and no English guidebook, so I feel I didn’t get as much information from the visit as I had hoped.

Anyway, onwards and once more into the fray – after the quiet contemplation of the Yuki Art museum, we made our way to Shin-Osaka and the Osaka Pokemon Centre… now the aquarium was a madhouse and this place – while lacking a two-hour long queue to enter – was equally manic on this public holiday shopping day.So much plush – must resist the urge to tidy it! This Pokemon Centre appears to be the same as the Tokyo one, though slightly more toys and stuff crammed into slightly less space.  I feel like Nintendo are really missing opportunities to properly merchandise their crap though.  Most of their stuff is aimed at small kids, yet it’s overpriced and usually quite poor quality.  The whole thing feels a bit weird, especially given the global popularity of Pokemon Go.  Most small kids lost interest in Pokemon Go fairly quickly – you need to be mobile and have lots of time out of the house to be effective to play it… many kids relying on parents to ferry them to battles and events eventually gave up. The result of which is that the average Pokemon player seems to be in the 20s-40s and they effectively walking wallets… but come in here, and there is very limited merchandise aimed at this audience.  I’m quite surprised at this oversight, as Nintendo already have the perfect model in Disney to make sure they are covering all their bases and maximising their exposure and profits. It feels like they just don’t known or care to cater to their older customers.*shrug* While we were at the Pokemon Centre, there was a Pokemon Trading Card game tournaments happening – there must have been 150 kids and adults all playing the trading card games.  Some having a lot of fun and smiling and not taking it too seriously, and some looking very studious.  Having never been to a game tournament like this, I thought it was very interesting.I have no idea how the game is played or what’s involved, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this little kid was kicking arse!  😉 After this stop, we did some general shopping and ended up calling it a day.  Navigating Osaka in the crowds is somewhat harrowing at the best of times, navigating the trains during Golden Week is crazy – mind you, even though everywhere seems to be packed full of domestic tourists at the moment, everything feels orderly, friendly and super polite.  I can’t imagine this many people being this well behaved anywhere else in the world. ‘take

Ikebukuro and Tokyo Tower

After yesterday’s monster cultural walking tour of Tokyo, today we thought we’d take it a little easier and head to some pop culture highlights instead.  Last time we were here, the Teenager was all over the Pokémon stuff on his DS and was loving the Pikachu love that was often on display in Tokyo.  We even took him to the Yokahama Pokémon store and he loved it.  This time, well, this time we are all a little Pokémon mad, having taken up Pokémon Go (which btw has proved to be excellent exercise over the last year) and so we decided to head to Pokémon central this morning – the Tokyo Pokémon Mega Centre in Ikebukuro’s Sunshine Centre.Ikebukuro Main Street.

The Sunshine Centre is covered in Pokémon murals and accents before you even get anywhere near the place… And then we found the place – basically a Disney Store but for Pokémon, and at this time of year – packed to the gills with people, lots of loud annoying music, kids running  amok and more plush toys than you can poke a stick at. Unfotunately not a lot of merchandise that was designed for adults… I was hoping to find something I could buy in bulk to take home for our local raid teams, but seriously?  Golf balls, stationery or phone cases was about the extent of useful stuff that adults might like.  I don’t think they are catering for their PGO market here – which from what I have seen is largely being played by 25-45 year olds.  Oh well.  Marketing opportunity missed there, Nintendo. While we were there a legendary raid popped on the Pokemon Mega Centre gym, so of course we had to raid the Groudon.  I managed to catch it, but Mr K had to try again on the other Pikachu gym right beside it.

Just as we were leaving, things got really out of control – a Santa Pikachu turned up with the staff and the kids went crazy!  So much noise and excitement and absolutely none of it decipherable by non-Japanese speaking tourists like us.And of course the ubiquitous vending machines full of Pokemon crap.  Mostly Ditto for some reason…

For lunch, we found this restaurant which had some amazing looking okonomyaki in the display window… well, amazing for over glossy plastic representations of food, but we thought it looked like a potentially delicious cabbagey omelette spot for lunch.However, we got inside and rapidly discovered that it was teppanyaki okonomiyaki?  Cook your own damn cabbagey omelette restaurant?  The Teenager looked somewhat unimpressed at having to cook his own lunch, but when in Rome, right?  There was a pile of useful instructions, not in English of course, but it gave comfort knowing that locals don’t necessarily know how to cook their own okonomyaki either.  😉  Our lunches arrived – raw.  And looked full of possible deliciousness… so long as I didn’t fuck up the cooking bit.  😀  Thankfully, our server was kind enough to show us how it’s done – for the first one.  Preparing the plate, cooking the meat/seafood, mixing the cabbagey mixture and then forming it into a 14cm pancake.  Cook covered on one side for 4 mins on a lowish temperature, then use the spatulas to flip it over and cook for another 4 mins on the other side.  Handy hourglass timers were provided to make sure your okonomyaki was cooked through.   Et voila!  Tasty tasty okonomyaki lunch! Lunch was delicious and went down lovely with a cold glass of umeshu and biru.

Next stop after lunch was on the Teenager’s ‘must do in Tokyo’ list – a place called J-World, which is an amusement centre based on his favourite anime shows, One Piece and Dragonball Z.   He was pretty excited to be there… but only pulled this face for me after I prompted him to not look so blasé.   Now I am not an anime fan, and have no idea who all the characters are but this amusement centre/theme park was pretty full on.  Rides, interactive experiences, virtual reality stuff, Segway clouds (?), a restaurant full of themed food, and of course the inevitable gift shop.  I had no idea this One Piece thing was so huge… it’s about a pirate named Monkey.D Luffy on his quest to claim the treasure, the One Piece.  From what I can understand it involves a lot of high drama and screaming alarmingly in Japanese at other adventuring characters.  This of course is the token female character… Nami.  And this is how she is attired while her cohorts are wearing shirts and shorts or even suits or a long pirate coat.  Poor thing, can’t afford clothes.   Kinto-un from Dragonball Z apparently.

Many rides and hilarity later, it was time to get the hell out of the noisy anime amusement centre and find some solace… in sake!  We left the Sunshine Centre and back to Ikebukuro for dinner.  We wandered past some chain restaurants, and even a bloody Denny’s before we decided to head into the back streets to look for something a bit more local.  We found a restaurant with a great looking menu, actual chairs instead of stools, and *drumroll please*… cheap sake taster plates!! Sake fuelled, Mr K soldiers on through his biru while we wait for some dinner.   Ooh.. maybe there is fugu / blowfish on the menu?  Do we risk it?  Ah, not so much.  Drinking on an empty stomach is never advisable but dinner was well worth waiting for… fresh sashimi – the tuna is so much better here, I swear all the tuna we have in Australia at sushi restaurants is frozen, or frozen poorly or something.  In comparison, I can honestly say I have never had good tuna back home, excepting maybe Sono at Hamilton. The texture is entirely different.
Grilled chicken and pork pot stickers.
Gyoza – of course, no meal seems to be complete without some. Some weird bean sprout omelette yumminess the name of which I can’t remember. Sake!  All the sake! Then it was back to the trains – have I mentioned how awesome Tokyo trains are?  Cheap, clean, efficient… kinda easy to navigate once you get the hang of them, super easy to navigate if you travel with your own transport industry professional!  😉  They’re great, and people are polite and mind their space, I love them – to go to Tokyo Tower. Several stops and what seemed only a few minutes later, and up we pop in a new part of town, and the Tokyo Tower in front of us.  Tokyo Tower is a communications with public observation decks in the Shiba-koen district of Minato. At 332.9 metres (1,092 ft), it is the second-tallest structure in Japan. Apparently it is inspired by the Eiffel Tower, and it is not difficult to see how.  Allegedly, its distinctive orange and white colours come from a necessity to comply international air safety regulations…which then begs the question why isn’t the Eiffel Tower orange and white?  Hmmm.  #showerthoughts I came here on our last trip to Tokyo and it was pretty cool to get a chance to go up the tower at night as well as having been up during the day.  At the moment it is all Christmassy – lights, themed photos, projected snowflakes everywhere, and live performers on the observation deck.  Oddly, but completely in keeping with our visit to J-World on Anime Day, we stumbled onto a One Piece 20th Anniversary exhibit and store at the Tower.  There is Nami again in her signature green bikini, and loads of cool merchandise – cooler stuff than they had at the offical store in the city. More One Piece – the little guy above with the ‘X’ on his hat is called Chopper, and he is supposed to be a reindeer that area a Hito Hito No Mi devil fruit which makes him anthropomorphic (or as the Teenager would say – makes him into a human hybrid or allows him to have human characteristics at will). Anyway, back to the Tower… it was covered in projected snowflakes and sparkly Christmassy stuff.  It was lovely.  The views were great and my little handheld camera either totally didn’t cope or I was completely inept, because my photos from up the Tower are not great. We stopped for a bit and had a blindingly sweet coke spider (yes, it’s freezing cold outside but there is still ice cream and frozen treats everywhere) and then after that sugar rush my photos got way better.  😉  Thus endeth out second day in Tokyo!  🙂

Australian Pokédex awesomeness!

A very talented Australian animation artist named Paul Robertson has turned his hand to making a uniquely Aussie Pokédex… and it’s just brilliant.  I imagine non-Australians might have some trouble interpreting some of these Pokémon creations – you’ll just have to trust us that it all makes sense!

Saving here for future reference, via @probzz on Twitter.

Pokemon Go Egg Hatchings

If you usually tune into this blog for travel updates, you will just have to ignore a couple of posts… rest assured, the travel will be back shortly!  😀

I have been playing Pokemon Go since coming back from Barcelona and have to say it is sure keeping me active.  I have walked nearly 300kms (time that I undoubtedly would have couched) in the last couple of months, and that’s nothing to sneeze at for a chronically pained person… pain levels are through the roof of course, but an extra bonus, I’m down a few kilos.  Go me.

Anyway, we have a little Facebook group chatting about Pokemon Go, called the Magikarp Appreciation Society, and I said I would post up some experiences with egg hatchings because most of us in the group have some level of OCD/compulsive behaviour going on in varying degrees 😉 and the randomness of egg hatchings is driving some of us crazy!

5km egg 1

I decided to try and hatch whole batches of the same egg to try to not keep getting ‘random’ shit hatches.  It felt like every 5km egg I was hatching was a silly Psyduck or a Polliway, and every  every single time I hatched a 2km egg it was undoubtedly a Zubat or a Weedle, and of course all of those are everywhere!  Now I can’t really back that up with empirical evidence, because I wasn’t writing them down, but it certainly felt like every hatched 2km or 5km egg was completely common rubbish. So I thought trying to hatch a bunch of the same kms eggs together was worth a crack (pun intended).

The first clutch of the same eggs I managed to get together were 5km eggs… Took a little while to get most of the screen full of 5km eggs, but by walking off the 2km ones, and leaving the 5km ones behind, I eventually got what I was hoping for.  It seems 10km eggs are hard to come by in Pokestops hereabouts.  I picked up a bunch of incubators from The Shop, and off I went.  Results were:

5km egg 2 eggsAt this point, I was pretty happy with my wash – eight 5km eggs hatched and every single one of them a different creature.  Plenty of candy and no Psyducks or Polliwags in sight!  If this works, and eight eggs reliably ends up with eight different creatures – I wanted to work my way into having a whole page of 10km eggs to try and get something other than another common-as-all-giddy-up-annoying-as-fuck Pinsir from a 10km egg!

So I tried it again… with eggs as per image to the left.  10km being held over to hopefully one day get a screen full of them.  Results were, again, pretty good… some the same as last time, but importantly, all eight were different creatures.

This seemed to be working, so I kept up with the mass evolvings rather than just walking them off sporadically or starting them out of time with each other.  The next batch, I only had six 5km eggs (as I was hoarding 2kms and 10km ones so I could try and do similar mass evolvings…

As you can see, this batch of four sadly hatched two Psyducks, which blows my theory that the game isn’t mean enough to throw up multiples of the same creature in a mass egg hatching.  Though I have vague recollections of having to stop part way setting these going in order to fetch another incubator from The Shop, and was doing it in the car while Mr K was driving, so it’s possible that the last Psyduck wasn’t in the batch but rather 100-200m behind the others, but popped up at the same time because the in-game GPS and pedometer is a bit fickle.  I’ve notice big discrepancies between what my Apple Watch says I have walked compare to what the game thinks I have walked… Watch will say 2.2kms walked, game will show only 1.8kms walked..?  Go figure, they’re both running off the same phone.

The next batch was all different again – and this time I know they were set going in one hit at home…

So by now I am sitting on three 10kms eggs waiting to get a whole batch, and a few 2km eggs that I thought I’d try and get going together. I’d say about 75-80% of eggs I pick up are 5km eggs, which will make getting eight or nine 10km eggs quite a lengthy process.  The first 2km batch looked like this:

Charmander and a bunch of candy – very cool; Magikarp candy never goes to waste, and the rest is what I usually see when I hatch a 2km egg one at a time.  Second batch of 2km eggs yielded pretty much the same deal, one ‘coo’ hatch and rubbish:

I have run two more batches of 2km eggs, and each time got one ‘good’ Pokemon – another Charmander and a Pikachu – each of which hatched along with three really common ones: Pidgey, Zubat, Weedle or Caterpie (sorry, I stopped screen-grabbing the commons because I am sick to death of goddamn Weedles!).  So far, I feel that hatching in batches is definitely worthwhile.  The bigger the batch, the higher likelihood of getting a few decent egg hatches in one hit.

After that I had enough for another batch of 5km eggs… again, all different.

So overall, my very unscientific, completely subjective user reinforced opinion is that it is much better to hatch a bunch of eggs together than to walk off just one at a time, or to walk off a few that have been set going at different times to avoid Zubat overload.  However, yale has rightly pointed out that this could just be a really obvious case of subjective user confirmation bias.  🙂  So take it with a grain of salt.

Oh, and I will totally update this if I manage to get a handful of 10km eggs together to hatch all at once… I have four so far.

Update 11th Sept…

currentI am currently sitting on five 10km eggs and still trying to fill a screen full of them to evolve en masse. It’s certainly taking quite a while to get there with the 2km and 10km eggs hardly ever coming from the Pokestops.

I’ve been walking off smaller batches of three and four 5km eggs while I slowly accrue 10km ones, and some singular 2km eggs (which have yielded largely Weedles, Rattatas, Zubats, but also one Squirtle and one Pikachu).

The more recent 5km batches have spat out the following:

Very disappointing to see the double Krabby hatch – completely blows my theory that the multiples will be different.  I guess they are ‘predominantly’ providing different monsters if hatched in batches, but not always… still, now I know I could do all this only to hatch a bunch of Scythers and Pinsirs when I get all the 10km eggs going.  :/

Oh dear lord, not more Psyduck candy?!  How many Golducks does one girl need?

Apparently, many, many, more Golducks are needed.  :/

 

golducksHelp!!!
My Pokebag is turning into Golduck central…!

Phew, some relief from the Psyducks.  Now to go out and find some Pokestops and spin me up some more 10km eggs… come in spinner!
pokemon egg hatch