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2019 - Japan - Day 8

This morning after collecting Neil, we headed for what we called ‘The Fluffy Pancake shop' for breakfast. I think the English translation of the actual place may be The Happy Pancake. This is another Japanese institution and we wanted to see if the pancakes really were as big & fluffy as they appeared on the photos we had seen. The restaurant itself was a good walk from the Hotel but the weather was beautiful again so we didn’t mind the stroll in the sunshine. It was in a district we hadn’t been before that had a clump of big brand shops like Apple and Louis Vitton. We easily found the place and had to make use of an electronic reservation system that was outside. As soon as we had completed that we were collected and taken inside. It was already almost full up despite actually being open a few minutes. We were allocated a table where on one side the wooden bench was actually a hammock. This amused us at the time but even more at the end when Karen couldn’t get enough room to get herself up and out without help from the people on the next hammock.

The pancakes when they arrived met all of expectations and we marvelled at how they managed to get them so large, fluffy & light. Karen & Neil had theirs with Banana, Cream and Hot chocolate sauce, whereas my Buckwheat pancakes (just as fluffy) came with scrambled eggs and bacon. In a word, delicious. We deliberately hadn’t ordered any drinks with them as Karen had spotted a Starbucks opposite and wanted to get her morning coffee from there. So we sat outside enjoying these afterwards.

We then walked to Namba Station and caught the Metro to the Osaka Aquarium. This was not on our original plan, but as it was highly recommended and is the largest Aquarium in the world we thought we would add to our schedule.

After the minimum of fuss we purchased the tickets and went into the building up a very long escalator. Then essentially you just followed a route down a slope winding its way through the building. It is very well designed and thought out. As well as all the fish there were a number of water based mammals like Otters, Capybara, Seals, Puffins and many different types of Penguins. They were all so close and actually touchable if you had been stupid enough to try.

The real star attraction was the tank that must have been almost as deep as the entire building containing Whale Sharks and enormous Rays as well as many other larger fish. The acrylic glass of that tank was 30cm thick and they had a cross section of it on display. Normally my attention span in a place like this is short but the whole place was so well done and interesting that it was well worth a visit. I must say that that some of the fish were not front of the queue in being given some looks or features. Obviously everyone smiled at the Nemo Clown Fish but some of the others were just plain ugly, frightening and at time didn’t look real. I suppose the same applies to humans though as well.

On the way out, Karen fancied another drink at the Aquarium cafe. Sadly there wasn’t one, instead they had a Starbucks. Neil rolled his eyes, but didn’t turn his nose up at the roll and drink we purchased for his lunch.

I then concocted a plan to take a water shuttle across the river to visit Universal Studios City Walk. We had before debated whether to actually go into the actual park for the day but had all decided against it. We had a 45 minute wait for the boat and had a nice ride over and along to the other side of the river bank. As we went along I could sense how excited Neil was just to be visiting the outside of the park as he was telling me about every ride he could see. We wandered to the end of the City Walk which was the entrance to the park itself. We took a few photos before wandering to the gates and seeing what rides we could see. As we were walking out we could see the posters with the ticket prices and noticed that they were offering a Twilight ticket. As soon I asked Neil if he wanted to go in his eyes lit up. I suggested that he should go in on his own as we would not hold him up running between rides. He took less than a second to make his mind and joined the short ticket queue. He was then off in a flash to try and get as much of the park done as he could in the remaining 4 hours.

Karen & I went for a wander for a while around the City Walk and then settled down for a rest in our third Starbucks of the day. The last hour waiting for Neil did drag a little bit as Karen had got tired of messing around on her phone. Once she gets bored then we have to find something to occupy her else she gets the grumps. So we went for another wander and then waited at the agreed meeting place near the exit gate for Neil. He was full of it when he came out. Without us holding him back he had completed in 4 hours every ride he had wanted to do and many others as well.

We had decided to eat at the CityWalk and went to the Hard Rock Cafe which was surprisingly empty. The food and service was good although it was really expensive, but that due to location and name. The highlight was that someone was celebrating their birthday as we left. We are used to the restaurant staff all making a fuss, and clapping and singing when its someone's birthday in America. Here though, one of them grabbed an electric guitar and the other percussion instruments and we were treated to a 5 minute rock mix of happy birthday which was really good.

The journey back was interesting as we caught the JR line and then swapped to something that was called an electric train which bizarrely then turned itself into a regular Metro train part way along its journey. It all looked the same to me and was quite puzzling.

One of things I wondered about today was Trainers, how long should they last and how often to people change them? I have seen since we have been here many young couples wearing identical trainers which must be a thing here (or have I not noticed at home?) and looks quite sweet. We have also seen many places offering Trainers that are only exclusively available in Japan by some of the big brands. We did wonder whether there would be any profit in buying a few pairs to sell at home.

My current Trainers are Sketchers. I bought them as they are Go-Walk and the most comfortable ones I have ever had. Yet they are obviously not for heavy use - or the amount of walking we have done on trips in the last year. I have probably been wearing them for about 12 months and the soles are decidedly worn. I was brought up in an age where you wear things till they are worn out or you out grew them. Then they were passed onto someone else. Even shoes. We live in a much more consumable and disposable world. I am getting more comfortable with this and pass on things I haven’t worn for ages to a charity shop. Karen still struggles with that concept, hence the several double wardrobes of clothes at home we have at home of things she will never wear again. Back to my Trainers, when do I change them? Do I wait till they do fall apart or sooner. Why have they not lasted long (in my opinion)? Are they not designed to? Or is the Sketchers Go-Walk a poor product in terms of durability? Or would walking probably several hundred miles be too much for any normal Trainers. Then I realised we were on holiday and this internal debate could wait until another time.

Back in our room, Karen & Neil made more inroads into the Cheesecake was yesterday, which apparently was still good but tasted different from being eaten straight out of the oven. A good ending to another really full but great day.

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