My friend Rose and I decided to go to Osaka because it was so close and the flights are so cheap! We also wanted to see how we would do in a country were we didn’t know the language at all. I made so many memories during this short trip and learned that even though Korea and Japan are neighbors, it is SO DIFFERENT.
On the first day, we headed to our hostel, got off at the correct stop but then got so lost trying to find how to get to the hostel from the stop. It was only a five minute walk, but it took us 50 minutes to get there because we couldn’t communicate to get the correct directions. Afterwards, we headed to the subway station and were once again completely lost. In Japan there are so many lines owned by different companies and one station, and none of the stations on the map were in English, and the machines to get your tickets were so different than the ones in Korea. Basically everywhere we went the next three days we got lost as least 20-50 minutes, we ordered food by pointing, and the only thing we could say was arigatou-gosaimasu, which means thank you.
Putting all the obstacles aside, we loved all the places we visited. We went to Dotonbori, a street full of food, and tried the famous Takoyaki(wheat-based balls with pieces of octopus inside) and conveyor belt sushi.
We went to Universal Studios, because I don’t think I will ever go to the one in the United States. They had a Wizarding World of Harry Potter and that’s where we both spent most of our time since we both grew up reading the books. All the characters spoke in Japanese of course, but we still had a great time.
We visited Osaka Castle. It was very different than the Korean palaces because this was one so modernized. It even had an elevator! The view from the top was spectacular, and worth the 8 flights of stairs we climbed since the elevator line was too long.
Our last attraction was the Osaka Aquarium which is one of the largest in the world. They had whale sharks and penguins, which I had never seen in my life. I also touched a shark and a stingray. I’m actually really scared of stingrays, so it took me 15 minutes to get the courage to go up and touch it. I hesitated a couple of times, but when I actually touched it, the texture was so smooth and jelly-like that I wanted to keep touching it, though I was still scared and jumpy every time it moved.
It felt like we were in Japan for days. It was a fun and new experience, but we were both relieved to be going back to Korea where it feels like home now. It’s a place where we know and speak the language enough to get by very well. Somethings that I will miss about Japan though are the nice toilets, the healthier food at the convenience store, and the orderly lines that form to get on the subway!