08 October 2005

From Tokyo to Osaka

I'm finally back from a very busy week in Japan - so busy, in fact, that I only saw most of it through the windows of a bus.

I had originally hoped to visit some of the 2nd-hand camera shops in Shinjuku or Akihabara to get myself a cheap 2nd-hand lens or film body (A Nikon F100, perhaps). Even thought of visiting that famous fish market in Tokyo that auctions fresh fish from 5am, but rain prevented me from going... T_T

Took the Shinkansen (bullet-train) from Tokyo to Osaka. It's bloody fast, topping off at 300km/h (approx 180mph) during some parts of the journey.

On board the Shinkansen

A rare patch of greenery between Osaka and Tokyo

Arrival at Osaka station

Osaka was quite nice, actually managed to do a spot of window shopping at the huge Yodobashi-Camera department store. Never before in my life had I ever seen such a huge collection of electronic / electrical goods under a single roof. The camera section was, of course, the biggest I've ever seen. They had the ENTIRE range of film/digital SLR cameras from Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Minolta and Pentax, as well as the ENTIRE range of lenses from these companies (Even the mega huge 600mm telephoto lenses). They even had brand new Nikon F5s and Leica bodies for sale.

Best of all, there were demo units for all of these lenses, so you could actually try them out on the various camera bodies on display. And I haven't even mentioned the incredible selection of tripods, professional lighting gear, filters, medium-/large-format cameras, high grade film (displayed in refrigerated shelves, just like ice cream). Of course, this doesn't include the myriad of comsumer digicams in the neighbouring section...

Cathay Photo in Singapore definitely can't hold a candle to this place.

However, this shop didn't sell 2nd hand cameras, so I couldn't afford anything. Plus, brand new cameras are actually cheaper in Malaysia since they're tax free, and the fact that some shops in PJ sell cameras for much lower than the suggested retail price. ^_^

Shame I didn't take a picture of the place, but you can see the building at the left side of this shot from my hotel room.

Shinsaibashi Shopping District

When we headed out for dinner, I got to walk through the famous Shinsaibashi shopping district, which is packed with many restaurants, specialty shops, pachinko / video arcade centres and sleazy strip joints. Think of it as Japan's Petaling Street, only about 50 times larger, much cleaner and a whole lot better.

Lots of pretty neon lights... *yay!*

Random strip joint

This used to be the most popular photo-op spot in Osaka, but they had to put up these glass barriers to prevent people from jumping into the river. Apparently, the local baseball team (The Hanshin Tigers) won something big this year - not sure - and the locals tend to celebrate by jumping into the river, which was a lot of fun, apparently, but bad for their health due to poor hygiene (the river's quite dirty).


Don't ask me, I'm only telling you what I was told. Honest... -_-

Anyway, I had the most gorgeous Teppanyaki and Okonomiyaki I'd ever eaten (At the restaurant, not the river).

Dinner started off with fresh abalone. Basically, the chef placed the live (still moving) abalone on the heated pan, which caused them to squirm more violently. And right before their untimely demise, the chef carved them out of their shells and chopped them to itty-bitty little pieces and fried them in butter before they completely died.

The hapless abalone really never had a chance...

They were completely dead by the time we ate them, of course. Tasted awesome... ^_^

I can't really remember the rest of the menu, but I do remember the lovely steak and fantastic tasting okonomiyaki - which is a sort of Japanese pancake with meat and vegetables in it, topped off with special sauce and mayo.

Had more Yebisu beer, of course. I had beer with almost all of my meals during this trip.

I'll post more CEATEC-related stuff once I'm more awake.

More stuff on HD-DVD and Blue-ray to come... ^_^

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