Getting high in Osaka with Octopus Balls, sake and the yakuza


Spent our last day in Osaka getting high, getting a taste for Octopus Balls and knocking back the sake (rice wine) with the Teppanyaki.
Started off with a visit to Tokyu Hands to satisfy Anna’s urge for gadgets of all kinds.
There was seven floors of this stuff from multicoloured bikes (pink at the front, green at the back), to all sorts of appalling pet jewellery and Iphone5 accessories.
It was a relief to get a nice cheesecake and iced coffee float after – but not to get cramp while using one of the traditional Japanese trough toilets.
Hope they didn’t have security cameras in there.
Next up was the aquarium – yet again claiming to be one of the biggest in the world.
It is a bit like the one in Hull where you go to the top and come down different levels of ocean/sea/landscape to the bottom .
It did seem bigger than Hull and the range of creatures much wider – from penguins, otters and dolphins to seals, jellyfish, octopus and rays and sharks of all kinds.
Not sure if the creatures are better off here than in increasingly polluted and warming seas.
After enjoying a local speciality – Octopus Balls – last night we fuelled our growing addiction with another helping and a beer fortes.
These are like light dumplings with octopus in the middle and sauce on top. Very moreish.
Saw the sun going down over Osaka port before going on what – here they go again – was described as the world’s largest ferris wheel.
It was certainly high – giving a great view of the sea and city as the lights came on.
Back at the Imperial Hotel – a Frank Lloyd Wright creation – we went for Teppanyaki.
Our prawn, fish, beef, mushroom and spring onion choice was skilfully cooked on a hot plate in front of us.
Safe in the hotel we went for chilled sake – rice wine – to wash it down.
It seems ages since we went to the sumo in Tokyo.
Today that tournament ended with Mongolian Harumafuji defeating fellow countryman Hakuho to win the Emperor’s Cup and promotion to the top level – Yokozuna.
For the first time today we noticed bike locks of all kinds on sale and on bikes.
Perhaps this is because Osaka is the centre of the modern jakuza – the Japanese mafia.
Originally gangs of thieves, gamblers and outlaws who homed in on big cities and ports, they are now running prostitution, drugs and arms smuggling and loan-sharking.
My theory is that the financial crisis and tightening up of money-laundering checks have left them desperate and resorting to nicking bikes.
Anna says this is probably my usual nonsense.
Wait till some tattooed gangster comes and chops a finger off for my fantastic and perceptive analysis.
Things we have got used to now are:-
Women-only carriages, constant twittering noises st stations to guide blind people to entrances and exits and people serving you constantly bowing and even dropping to their knees to present bills.
They seem to have a liking for German beer and quite a few have Oktoberfests with a aside rang of German beer.
However, why would Ireland’s Kilkenny beer be included in wall-to-wall German beers?
This blogging business is great. It means all this stuff is out of the way and we can show people really interesting stuff such as bus, rail, ferry and tram timetables and Anna’s pictures of drain covers.

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