Today, we drove to an area of Nagoya in downtown called Osu with the younger of Megu's two brothers. Megu's the youngest of 5 siblings (Girl, Girl, Boy, Boy, Megu!). And they all lived in this 600ish square foot apartment with her parents and occasionally their grandma, I've been putting off doing a video of. I'll get to that later today for sure, promise!
To me Osu was kind of a mash-up between Tokyo's Akihabara (renowned for all things nerdy and geeky) and Vancouver's Gastown, which has become full of local, independent, clothing stores, except imagine all those stores are actually cheap.
We met up first with Megu's best friend Hyunka and her fiance, Hisa. Part of the reason this trip started in the first place was to attend their wedding, which is actually next week! We ate at an authentic Napoletana Pizza Parlour! Apparently it won a bunch of awards in Italy for being super authentic.
Pizza is expensive in Japan usually, in part because it's topped with ridiculous amounts of seafood sometimes. However, in an ironic twist relative to Vancouver Napoletana pizza, this place was super cheap, but I'm guessing they make their money on volume, as you can see the lineup literally out-the-door. 350 yen translates to roughly $4.50 Canadian (the yen is disgustingly strong right now, making this trip a lil pricey!) but that's insanely cheap for pizza in Japan.
You can even check out the oven, which I'm sure was flown in from Italy. It's a wood-burning oven that flash cooks the pizza at almost 900 degrees Fahrenheit (about 500 celsius) in just over a minute. Super Delicious!!!
Here's a shot of Hyunka and Hisa. Hyunka is renowned for making ridiculously silly faces in pictures, this one being no exception. Also in the shot, is this delicious Calpis soda, which came from one of those ubiquitous vending machines. It's this delicious kinda cream soda-y, not too sweet, fizzy drink which I freaking love.
They were giving away free samples of sake in the square. Yes please!!!
Popped into one of those famous Japanese arcades and this kid was killing this Rock Band-esque drum game. Actually I'm quite sure this game came first and Rock Band way later, but this kid is owning!
There were also some kids playing this Pokemon-esque game based on the japanese manga (comic) One Piece, which is insanely popular in Japan. Naruto is probably the most famous manga outside of Japan, but One Piece is probably the biggest inside Japan. The game actually relied on the use of physical cards you stuck into the arcade unit, pretty unique imho.
In addition to those drink vending machines being everywhere, you can also get smokes and beer. I'm sure there's a sticker somewhere telling kids not to buy these. And they're only about $5 a pack. No wonder so many Japanese kids smoke....
There's also an amazing second-hand luxury brand store. Items never used, gently used and sort of abused, all at very reasonable prices. There were multiple floors for watches & jewellery, clothing & hand bags. I'm not usually a high-end brand kinda guy, but there was an Louis Vuitton bag I totally loved, but was too expensive with the strong yen. They also had two related stores for musical instruments and camera equipment. Here's a shot of me leering into the camera store.
Also a cool looking temple just outside of all the shopping on Osu.
You can see the big red lantern at the top of the stairs with Japanese writing on it. The next pic shows lots of white strips being tied to that lantern.
Apparently, you can pay 100 yen ($1.30) to get a random fortune given to you on a white piece of paper. If it's good news, you keep it. If it's bad news, you tie it up at the temple for the bad news to be exorcised.
Here's a general shot of the streets of Osu to give you a feel for the place as it's getting darker.
There were ridiculous amounts of computer, electronic and audio stores, a nerd's wet dream. I should have taken pics inside the stores, but here's a few shots.
Used cell phones for sale for like $50 bucks, I'm sure which are way more advanced than the average phone in Canada.
Megu and I spent the night at Megu's older brother's house. Her brother was still working when we came by for dinner, but we spent time with her sister-in-law, Ako-chan, and her two nieces.
They even made a cute dessert to welcome us to Japan. The top right one says "Setta", a nickname they came up with for me years ago at the Japanese Hair Salon where I met Megu because my name is hard to say in Japanese. Setta is a reference to my volleyball position, "setter", which is kinda like the quarterback but in volleyball where you set everyone else up to spike.
OK, longest blog post ever! Took forever to make, but hopefully you kids enjoy :)