Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Dec 25 2008

Christmas Day in Osaka

I arranged to meet another Internet friend, Taku, at Namba Station at noon. It had been raining earlier but the sun eventually shone through the haze. I’d thought that noon would give me plenty of time to get up and running after my late night last night, but I was wrong. I had to change trains at Umeda and was half an hour late.

Taku took me to a street that is famous for its signs, or if it isn’t, it should be. A giant crab waved its legs and moved its eyes to reproach passersby who elect not to eat one of its many progeny. Tanuki, minus the giant testicles, were everywhere. We had tempura and sashimi for lunch at a restaurant overlooking the canal behind the street and then walked over to a temple where a statue of a monk is covered, or perhaps made of, moss. Worshippers would draw water from a pool and splash it from time to time.

I wanted to see the famed Spa World (“for all of your Spa needs”), so we walked through bazaar after bazaar until we came to a large steel tower straight out of a 1956 Godzilla movie. “This is not such a good part of town,” Taku said. Behind the tower was another alley full of signs, behind which was Spa World, a huge complex dedicated to the act of immersing oneself in various liquids.

We bought tickets via a vending machine, of course, and was read a litany of rules by one of the staff before we were allowed inside. We had to take off our shoes, get a shoe locker, get the key, and then go upstairs to another locker room, this one more luxurious. There we disrobed and stowed our things, whereupon we were finally ready to enter the spa itself. This is done by traversing a gauntlet of automatic showers, just to make sure you’re not filthy when you arrive.

The spa itself is pretty amazing. It consists of many cavernous rooms, each dedicated to a different “country” and its supposed bathing habits. One of the countries is “Atlantis” however, so I’m not sure how accurate their research is. The entry (“Rome”) is a bubbling fountain with statuary and arches. There’s also a Finnish hothouse complex with different temperatures, a wooden bridge and stuffed wolves on the rooftops, a “Blue Grotto” from Greece with murky blue waters, a Spanish area outside on the cold, windy veranda, featuring a pool with lounges in the water and a strong waterfall that massages you if you stand under it, a pool made of gold (I assume it’s not really gold), and one place with a herbal bath that looks and smells like tea. That was my favorite. The “Atlantis” room had a glass-sided pool labeled “Strong Detox”, but Taku had no idea what they meant by that. When Taku doesn’t know something or is thinking about something he doesn’t know, he tends to make a sound like a small vacuum cleaner. He majored in English Literature in college and worked selling skiing equipment for a while before he got his present job selling mobile phones at a shop.

Spa World also has steam rooms, a massage center and saunas galore, as well as a restaurant where you can order a drink to sit at a table, feet comfortably ensconced in some kind of foot-specific water, while you watch TV. Projections of stars and the Milky Way adorned some of the rooms’ ceilings.

We showered in the shower room and then sampled all of the pools, had some drinks, and returned to our favorite pools a few more times during the three hours allotted us. The outside bit was interesting, it being rather cold and windy above the water while nice and warm in the pools. It was all very nice, and there weren’t that many men there so there was no waiting for anything. I still feel clean.

It was much colder and nearly dark by the time we got outside again, and after buying some of the baggy worker pants I’ve been wanting for some time, we decided to go to the top of the 50’s tower to see the city at night. Taku hadn’t been there since he was a child.

We got in a round elevator and ascended to the center, where we changed to another elevator that went to the top. Apparently the thing was preceded by a tower that was built in 1912, but was dismantled for the war effort, and the present one was built in 1956. It looks it, too; retro in a cool way. At night the entire tower is lit up in neon signs, and the view from the top is great.

It was getting even colder outside, and I was loathe to leave the warm tower, but a slight swaying motion got me thinking about earthquakes, so we went back down to get some dinner at a wood-paneled curry shop on the corner. I’d originally wanted to walk around some more, but it was getting really cold, so I bade farewell to Taku and got on the subway back to Juso. I love riding subways in general, but there’s something I particularly like about Japanese subways, especially when I have a seat.

posted by Poagao at 9:42 am  


  1. How come I didn’t know the Spa World when I visited Osaka, I am so jealous now. By the way, I also like the trains or subways in Japan a lot. Don’t know why.

    I am so glad to know you have fun on your birthday today. 🙂 Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday!

    Comment by Daniel — December 25, 2008 @ 10:11 am

  2. Perhaps it is the heated seats in the winter? Did the subway have those?

    Comment by Bryan — December 29, 2008 @ 11:07 pm

  3. I love the heated seats and the heated floors in some places like the saunas.

    Comment by Poagao — December 29, 2008 @ 11:42 pm

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