It’s all over…..for now . . .

It is with a heavy heart that I finally come to the LAST EVER POST ABOUT JAPAN!*

It has taken a whole year to document our amazing trip and it is fitting that it is almost exactly a year since we set off on our odyssey.

So lets’s take a last romp through Osaka’s colourful markets and indulge in my love of all things consumerable.

This fabulous fabric store has a wealth of wacky cartoon prints including little smiling sushi.

Let’s stop for a moment to appreciate this – possibly the epitome of all things Japanese.

It’s cute, quirky, colourful and quite frankly bonkers . .  . .basically my assessment of the whole country 🙂

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Here’s a variety of decorative Sake bottles. All beautifully labelled with delicate details.

Let’s rejoice one more time in the plethora of insanely colourful boxes and packaging.

Pandas to advertise meaty lumps? Why not! Then there’s the plastic sushi shining under artificial lights.

A final gallop through the Blade Runneresque Osaka streets. Complete with their eye popping manga advertisements.

A final look at the eye watering colour combos and indecipherable store fronts.

A final forced pose by the man next to unidentifiable meat products . .  .

And of course, it wouldn’t be my blog without a final “stick your head through that”!!

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Farewell Japan it has been beyond a blast! From school girls with ninja swords, lightening speed bullet trains, delicate Geisha and serene temples.

Everyday was an incredible assault on the senses, a delight to the eyes, ears and heart.

We’ve seen futuristic metropolis with neon towers reaching to the heavens, rang heavy bells in lonely rural temples, bowed to drivers while crossing the road, seen the horrors of war and the promise of the future.

We’d move there in a heartbeat and as soon as we’ve scraped together enough money we’ll be back with bells on! Till then, sayounara Japan!!

* It is HIGHLY UNLIKELY THAT THIS IS THE LAST EVER POST ABOUT JAPAN . . . .*

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Osaka castle

Closing in on the last day in Japan now . .  (chokes back a sob) and it’s a beautiful sunny day to enjoy our last few hours.

We start the day off with a visit to the gorgeous Osaka castle.

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The construction of the castle started in 1583 on the former site of the Ishiyama Honganji Temple.

However the castle has had a chequed history as it was then destroyed by troops in 1615.

It was rebuilt by Tokugawa Hidetada in the 1620s, but its main tower was then struck by lightening in 1665 and burnt down.

It was not until 1931 that the present reconstruction of the castle tower was built.

Somehow it managed to survive the city wide air raids of World War two and now stands proud as a symbol of the city.

The castle tower is surrounded by impressive stone walls and moats and it looks truly magnificent against the perfect blue sky.

Bye bye Don Quixote

The time has come to make our last visit (of this trip at least) to the mecca of consumerism that is Don Quixote!

This temple of tat, paradise of products, hallowed ground of goody grabbing . . .

How we will miss it. Where else can you stick your head through a “traditional” Japanese welcome sign and then buy tiny chocolate geishas by the bucket load?

Or indulge your inner child with these adorable plushy Pikachu and Hello Kitty hats.

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Or cosplay as a little furry alien or slightly disturbing deer (or moose?) with a pink nurses hat?

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How we miss the zany, multi coloured fantasy world of Don Quixote!! Still mourning it 12 months later . ..

Here are a few more random snaps of the types of colourful, crazy consumerables on offer!

The man models some “interesting” underpants . .

It’s an intriguing mixture of delicate, traditional Japanese style crafts and gifts and tacky, plastic rubbish!

Then you get high end, designer brands such as Luis Vuitton, but all displayed as if it’s Primark!

Bundled together in wire baskets and tackily on show circa the old Ratnor’s style marketing . .

For the Halloween lovers amongst us, the Japanese seem to love this season and there’s lots to choose from.

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But for people with a less blood thirsty side there is endless cutesy cute stuff too.

Finally let’s just have a final look at one of my favourite things about Japan – all the mental packaging!!

So colourful and so uninformative! Who knows what is inside . . .

Never mind. Just TAKE MY MONEY!!

Illuminated Osaka

We head back into the bustling heartland of Osaka in the evening to see it transformed into a throbbing neon paradise.

It is the most iconic and enduring image of modern Japan – eye splitting coloured lights as far as the eye can see. And Osaka does not disappoint!

Whether it’s giant puffer fish or octopus, to these jolly giant with his huge TV screen where you are the star, there is something to gawp at around every corner.

We head back to  Dōtombori canal side to check out the huge skyscrapers.

They reach dazzlingly into the night sky. Each tower making garish, neon promises.

These ultra high tech paragons of consumerism are truly captivating and we linger for a while, just watching the people, watching the neon.

Naturally we have to visit our old friend the iconic Glico man as well, to check out his night time splendour.

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Alas, the days are ticking down quickly towards the end of our trip . . . . still makes me sad to think of it ending, even a year later!!

Pet cafes and fishy markets

Continuing our tour of our final Japanese city Osaka. We spot a few of the more quirky features of Japanese socialising – pet cafes! In this case all things tiny, fluffy and spiky!

As well as photo perving on yet more perfectly replicated plastic meals and sushi.

This tiny shop is a manga lover’s paradise. Stacked from floor to ceiling with colourful books.

I love the vivid hues of the spines and the somewhat impenetrable plots!

Naturally there are an abundance of novelty items to make the man stick his head through or pose next to . . .

Then it’s onto Kuromon Ichiba which is one of the most well known central food markets in Osaka.

Its undercover stalls are crammed full of all manner of veg, pickles, fish and delicacies.

The market has a total length of close to 600 meters with 170 shops.

Although over half of total sales are for the business market, Kuromon Ichiba is also popular with the general public and definitely with tourists.

As well as fresh ingredients to make your own meals, you can easily pick up lots of ready meals to eat on the go. Made in front of your eyes or scooped out of tempting dishes.

My eye is drawn to these poor little baby octopi on sticks! Their heads look rather too round and that is because they are stuffed with a quails egg!

Considered to be a Japanese snack they are known as takoyaki or octopus balls and they are candied and skewered. Hmmmm . . .

Finally here are a few more fresh crabs and a vendor preparing some snacks.

We’re getting so very close to the end of our trip now . . . I almost can’t bear to finish it.

Although it will almost be a year since we visited it has taken all this time to document it all!!

Glico man

Dōtonbori or Dōtombori  is one of the main tourist hotspots in Osaka and is full of highrise neon adverts.

It runs along the Dōtonbori canal from Dōtonboribashi Bridge to Nipponbashi Bridge in the Namba district and features the famous Glico man advert.

The Glico Man is the oldest neon sign in Osaka. Originally installed in 1935, the sign shows a giant athlete on a blue track and is a symbol of Glico candy.

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Even though it looks very old fashioned and simple compared to the slick ads surrounding it, the Glico Man still has huge popularity amongst the locals, who meet here to celebrate sporting victories.

 

Insane adverts

Onward with our zip around the colourful city of Osaka. Full of adorable plushies, giant squid and all manner of colourful delights.

 

Osaka is made up of several different districts including the hectic Dōtonbori area.

Historically a theatre district, it’s now a popular nightlife and entertainment area with large illuminated billboards and quirky advertising.

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I love all the oversized food adverts such as the sushi and puffer fish above.

Everything is cute, comical or downright peculiar. This odd man dressed as an angry old women is a case in point!

Below is the fantastical Don Quixote department store on the Dōtonbori canalside. It has its own ferris wheel – sadly no longer in use however.