Friday, May 1, 2009

Farewell Tour

Some Part of Osaka

On my way to Fukuoka I stopped in Osaka to check out the aquarium and the Tai Sakuma memorial plaza. Unfortunately, the plaza was undergoing reservations. But the aquarium was cool, in an 'it's an aquarium' sort of way. They have whale sharks in really big tank. Apparently the amount of acrylic glass used to build the tanks is equivalent to 1.5 times the entire world's annual production of the material.

Renovations at the Tai Sakuma Memorial Plaza

In Fukuoka, I decided I should experience a capsule hotel. The lobby was really nice and the place had a sauna on the eleventh floor which included a rooftop sauna. I'm definitely a fan of the Japanese hotel setup. 24-hr onsens are a brilliant idea. The place was also under 3500 yen for the night. The downside, I guess, being that your room is a small tube.

I dropped off my bag in my assigned locker on the second floor and headed out to get some food. The nightlife in Fukuoka is set alongside a canal not far from the train station. I'd walked passed when I stopped off on my way to Yakushima and seen all the street vendors and carts lined up along the river. Michael, from the restaurant in Tokyo, had recommended going to this area and written down a couple of things I should eat.

The area is lively with vendors trying to lure people into one of the many food places. I'm not really sure what they're called. They're basically bars built around a small counter behind which the cook makes ramen, or sushi or the little grilled meat on a stick things. They all sell beer and shochu and the place has a laid back kind of festival feel. The food was good, the weather was nice. The food places all have a half-dilapidated makeshift feel to them. I'm a big fan. Fukuoka rates well in my mind.

Figuring I'll need to get up early to make sure I make my flight in the morning, I decide to head back to the hotel fairly early. Along the way, I pass a pachinko parlor and figure it'll be my last chance to check it out. As is obvious from walking past other ones, the place is deafeningly loud. All the machines are blaring noise the whole time. I investigate a machine near the door and have no idea how it works. I wander through and aisle where people sit entrances by the little video screens and dropping metal balls. Some people have stacks of baskets filled with the balls next to them.

The long line at the counter up front dissuades me from pursuing panchinko any further (despite Nicholas Cage's assurance of its entertainment). I guess I've never really seen the appeal of slot machines either, but I don't remember casinos I've been in being quite as loud as this place (could be misremembering). Oh well, I probably don't need to waste anymore money anyway.

Back at the hotel, I change into my awesome hotel outfit (if I button the top shirt button, it nearly chokes me) and head to the sauna. After a brief visit to the rooftop hot tub, I head to my assigned tube. The tube hallway has an awesome scifi movie feel to it.

Creepy Capsule Hallway

There's really not that much to say about the tube. It's big enough tha I can sit up. There's a tv attached to the ceiling and a control panel for the alarm/tv/radio/lights. That's about it. It's a tube.

That's pretty much it.

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