Having spent an hour at Festival Gate the opportunity was taken to see a bit more of Osaka's nightlife, and just a couple of stops on the Metro was the Namba district, the city's entertainment district, with one unique ride to experience so what better place to go than there.

Upon exiting the station the first thing that was apparent was that this district was full of Neon. Synonymous with the Tokyo Nightlife it was interesting to see it just as bright in Osaka. I had quickly built up preconceptions on entering Osaka that it wouldn't be as good as Tokyo but this district was starting to prove me wrong.

Namba covers around a dozen blocks and is centred by the man-made Dotonbori water channel. Heavily lit arcades such as this one are commonplace in the area. You can pretty much buy everything here. One of the group needed a memory card for his camera and so a search for a "kamera-ya" (ya means shop) was underway. There wasn't one in this arcade however there were people willing to give the peace sign to the camera for free!

It was becoming more and more apparent that the neon we had seen had just been the beginning of what was going to become a crazy amount of neon. We were only walking through the peripherary and lights were already giving the area an articifial daylight.

There we were just a walking down the street singing "doo wa diddy.." when all of a sudden this guy rips off his shirt and starts breaking in front of a large camera that we didn't notice when we walked past. Judging by the reaction of the people around this wasn't planned. Fortunately the ground he was spinning on was not to abrasive. Having attended every B-Boy championship in the UK I am familiar with some of the Japanese breakers, I didn't recognise this chap however.

The area was also heaving with people, which given the luck we had had with the parks so far meant that actually seeing a crowd of people made a refreshing change and you didn't mind being in amongst them. We weren't having much success finding the camera shop, I could ask the question with no problem "kamera-ya wa doko desu ka" I was only able to really interpret the responses from their hand gestures. Although I knew left and right (hidari and migi) I didn't know what "straight ahead" was so if I didn't hear either left or right then I guessed they were saying go straight.

Neon and people as far as the eye can see. This is how I imagined Tokyo to be, it was odd to see this in Osaka, cool though! The artifical light was a bit eery but it did mean I didn't need to use the flash on the camera to take pictures.

This building on the right is Don Quixote's which sells just about everything you could ever want, and a lot of stuff you couldn't possibly dream up under one roof. We didn't go in as we had other places to go. The genie logo was on a lot of buildings around here, and if it was Don Quixote's logo then they must have quite some presence in Namba.

This oddly shaped big wheel on the banks of the Tosabori river was the ride that we had come to see (and have a go on of course). However we had discovered that the shops were going to be closing soon and as this was open til much later we could come back. Attempting to find the camera shop would take priority.

Even the buildings on the banks of the river where the public couldn't get to were covered with neon signs advertising stuff to buy including superman outfits. What are the odds that this is the most photographed piece of neon in the city?

The wheel, if that's what you call it given its shape, is built onto the side of another Don Quixote building; they really do have this area covered, it was just one street away from the other place we'd passed earlier. It was here that I was finally able to get some decent directions from a street cleaner who was quite taken aback to see me asking him questions in Japanese.

Apparently it was somewhere down here on the right. I just hope it was easily spotted maybe with an eye catching neon display perhaps?

This wasn't it, this was a Fugu restaurant famous for it's blowfish delicacy where if it's not prepared properly the eater can be poisoned. I had tried a lot of Japanese cuisine during my stay so far and was up for trying just about anything, including this. However the rest of the group weren't so prepared to take the risk and so we gave it a miss. Deaths from the consumption of badly prepared blowfish have decreased since the introduction of licensing.

This strange building on the junction of these two roads only seemed to contain 3 floors of shops with the space above it containing absolutely nothing but glass to reflect the neon lights. This wasn't the camera shop however. I have no idea wha the name of this building is but I'm pretty sure it's not whatever is on the sign at its entrance.

But this building just across the street was. The last three characters in yellow spelt out "ka-me-ra", which clearly showed me the way. However when we got to it it was already closed. Perhaps the bit of Japanese I couldn't understand was the bit telling me not to bother looking for it as it is closed. In the end we came across a small stall in one of the arcades that did sell the memory cards the guy wanted. With that mission a failure, it was time to go and enjoy the wheel.

Given that most of the shops were now closing, or in the case of that camera store already shut the only people remaining were those who were off for something to eat, or foreigners aimly wandering around.

It didn't take us long to get back to the wheel or kanransha as they're known in Japan. The Don-Quixote chain usually have some sort of attraction either on or inside the building. The one in Tokyo for example has a huge fish tank at it's entrance and in the weeks following the trip built a halfpipe coaster on its roof.

The wheel certainly stole the skyline especially with all the neon. The only complaint I had with it was that it was on the banks of the waterway in the middle of a built up area, which meant it wasn't easy to take a picture of it and also you wouldn't benefit from the view until you were above the building on the other side of the river. The cars on the wheel face inwards until they start their ascent at which point they rotate to view out over Osaka.

Here's the genie logo again. I have no idea what it has to do with Don Quixote. There were two of these on either side of the Don-Quixote building. This one was the better of two being in colour, the other was in a single shade of green. This could be interpreted in two ways either riding the wheel puts some colour in your life, or for those of a nervous disposition makes you green at the gills.

Here's a view taken on the way up and although the view wasn't so good on the way up it would be better as we rode over the top. A lot of couples were using the wheel, I suspect because it was the only place in this heaving district that offered any privacy.

Here's the view from the top, admittedly you'd see more during the day but we weren't going to be here at that time of day. The strangely empty store and camera shop can be seen in the distance.

A final picture of the neon taken on the way back down. The wheel was certainly different given it's shape. Is it an elevator or a wheel though? It would be interesting to see if this style of train could be used to run on other track designs. Having seen enough of Namba now it was time to eat before heading back to the hotel.

The main eating area in this part of Osaka is in Dotonbori and we took a short walk along here to find something to eat, but nothing jumped out saying "eat me eat me".

I'm guessing given the theming at the entrance that this restaurant sold sea food such as fish and ships, which you could wash down with galleons of beer.

In the end we ended up in a Japanese chain called Yoshinoya (just visible on the left), which a couple of German members had tried in Tokyo and liked. We got to eat upstairs overlooking the junction and ate really nice beef bowl meal that they specialise in. Their motto is "cheap, quick and yummy", a perfect description for what is the Japanese version of McDonalds.

Half an hour later and we were back at the hotel. Here's the obligatory view from the window.

This is the hotel room, why do I insist on taking the internal pictures once I've trashed the place. It gives the hotel a bad name I'm sure.


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