Friday, August 10, 2012

Shikoku Journey: Ferry + Osaka

From Takamatsu to Kobe, Seto Inland Sea ferry

The last bit of my Shikoku journey included a small stint in the Kansai region, and a LONG trek back home. Since I shamelessly cheated and exchanged my local train pass for a Shinkansen ticket (gasp!!) at the very last minute, taking the longest (and cheapest) possible way home to Tokyo seemed quite fair and deserved.

After reluctantly leaving Marugame and saying farewell to my friends, I headed to the city of Takamatsu, where I met up with fellow Tokyo resident Danny, who had once lived in rural Shikoku and who happened to be visiting at the same time. I tricked him into thinking the longest way back would be the most fun, and promised him a party complete with some Kansai goodness.

In Takamatsu we boarded the Kobe-bound ferry, which was rather impressive. I was expecting a low-budget boat with plastic seats, but no! The ferry is called "Jumbo Ferry", and looks like a love hotel, decked out with mirrors, low lighting, and golden accents. The three-storey structure boasts an udon shop (surprise surprise), a souvenir shop, and a glitzy stairwell that made me feel like I was on an eighties honeymoon.

Riding the Jumbo Ferry was the best part of the trip: the four-hour trek across the Inland Sea was absolutely gorgeous, and not to mention comfortable in a living room-like setting (with drinks flowing and ichigo daifuku snacks). The ferry made its way across the hundreds of little islands scattered in the sea, and sailed under the longest suspension bridge in the world before arriving at Kobe Port after sunset.

What ensued was a frantic series of events and mishaps and a change of plans, and next thing I knew, we were the proud (and dreadful) owners of night bus tickets to Tokyo. I absolutely despise the night bus, but it was the last resort, and a night out in Osaka was greatly needed in order to prepare for that last step.

Being back in Osaka felt strange, as I left that city quite hastily and with a sour taste. Yet, stepping off at Osaka station instantly made me happy, and I quickly remembered why I loved that city so much in the first place. It's relaxed, friendly, chaotic, a bit grimey, and the food is heavenly. We feasted on some meat dumplings from 551 Horai (the best in Osaka), sat outside soaking in the Osaka vibes, and had a few more drinks before embarking the long, sleepless night bus ride back to Tokyo.

The night bus isn't so bad if you have friends to keep you company, a handful of snacks and water, and Hello Kitty socks. I feel bad for my friend Danny, who had to put up with me chuckling every time I heard someone snoring, but after nine hours on the dark Japanese highways and about five rest areas that looked exactly the same, we made it back home to Tokyo.

ただいま。

Last udon in Takamatsu: egg goodness

The Jumbo Ferry

Glitz! Lights! Mirrors! The ferry decor.

That stairwell was the highlight of my trip

Freight on the ferry

Our ferry living room

Asahi beer and ichigo daifuku

Seto Inland Sea

The giant roof terrace... all mine.

Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge

551 Horai... worth the Osaka trip

Osaka has not changed at all. It made me miss it a little.

Osaka station,
I could go through it with my eyes closed

Dun dun dun... the horror!! The night bus!!!

Takoyaki Hello Kitty socks
OSAAAAKAAAA edition

Note: I highly recommend hopping on the ferry that travel between Takamatsu and Kobe. It's dirt cheap, and feels quite luxurious, in a bit of a tacky way.

1 comment:

Alex Crist said...

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