I made kind of a last minute decision to go to Osaka and Shiga for the long weekend in September. Back when I visited in January I had spoken to Aya about coming to stay with her in September, but I was debating if it was worth the cost when I should be saving money.
For the past few months I had been tutoring a Dutch man in Japanese via Skype. He had posted to one of the websites I frequent, Imgur, looking for a Japanese tutor to help him prepare for his trip to Japan in September. Someone else on the site remembered that I live in Japan and directed him to me. Though I told him a native speaker would be better, I would do the best I could. Since he was not paying me for the lessons, he said that would be fine. So for about three months, every Tuesday morning at 5 we would Skype for about an hour. I would attempt to teach him Japanese and he would try to get me off topic with cultural questions.
Since he was going to be in Japan, he wanted to buy me lunch to thank me for my help. After his persistence in asking me to come to meet him, I found a decently priced airline ticket on Peach and decided to go to Osaka. I took half the day off on Friday and flew to Osaka in the evening. Thankfully I had already gone that route with Andy and Chris a few months earlier, or I would have been pretty confused trying to figure out where I was going. Peach is a discount airline and is, as a result, in a separate terminal from all of the other airlines in Kansai International Airport. You have to take a free shuttle bus to get to the main terminal and then go from there.
I got to the airport’s train station, used my handy train card (which I only get to use a few times a year when I go to bigger cities), and hopped on the first train headed the right direction. When I arrived at Nankai-Namba station, Google maps said I needed to make a transfer to the Yodoyabashi Line. It had tried to make me transfer there last time when I was visiting with Andy and Chris, but after the signs towards the line ended up leading us outside instead, we all gave up and opted for a taxi in defeat.
This time, I refused to give in and let a train line beat me. With my giant backpack, my phone, and a mobile battery, I was determined to trek through the complex maze that is the Osaka-Namba station underground area. I was hungry, dehydrated, and almost tempted to find a corner to camp in for the night, but after 20 long minutes I finally found it. The feeling of triumph was incredible (and probably pretty disproportionate to what I actually accomplished if one were to look at it objectively). To add to my victory, I even chose the right station exit when I finally reached the right station. My hotel was waiting for me right at the top of the stairs.
After my long ordeal, I decided to just get a convenience store dinner and call it a night. Thankfully there was a 7/11 nearby. I grabbed my normal hotel supplies: giant bottle of water, coffee and breakfast for the next morning, and my bento for dinner. When I got to the cash register, I placed my items on the counter. The cashier looked at me, hesitated, and then mimed putting the bento into the microwave behind him.
Without thinking, I responded with my normal:
Nah, it’s ok as it is.
Which then amazed him and we launched into a Japanese conversation about why I was even there. Firstly, it’s not peak tourist time for foreign visitors. Secondly, I was staying in a business district with basically no night life, not exactly a prime spot for visitors.
Me: I’m here to meet up with some friends.
Him: Why is your Japanese so good?
Me: It’s not really that good, but I live in Miyazaki so I have to use Japanese.
Him: Oh! Well please enjoy our great city.
Me: Thanks, I always do.
With that little ego boost, I retreated to my hotel room and sat down to eat. It was after the first bite of my bento that I realized something. Something that had been overridden by my normal response when I buy rice balls at the conbini:
I actually had wanted it warmed up.