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Tuesday, April 9, 2013

MUGA Day#16: Osaka--Some Trials and Tribulations

First, the good news.  Misao Okawa is the oldest woman in the world at 115, and lives in Osaka.  She was born in 1898, married in 1919, had three children, but her husband passed away in 1931, and she raised them by herself.  Came the Second World War, then the aftermath.  So stress could well have prepared her for a long life.  She loves meat and confectionery, but hates vegetables.  So much for a good diet being responsible for your longevity.  She broke her hip at the age of 102, but recovered, and now can walk again.  The oldest person in the world is Jiroemon Kimura, also from Japan, who will be 116 on April 19.  He is the longest-lived verified man in history.

Now for the bad news.  There is a Patriot missile battery in Shinjuku.  It has the capability of destroying any North Korean missile which looks like it will be heading towards Tokyo.

Oh, oh, North Korea has warned foreigners to get out of South Korea by today.  However:

The Cable: State Department to Americans: No need to leave South Korea

Foreign Policy (blog) ‎- 6 時間前
North Korea has warned Americans to leave South Korea in order to avoid a looming "thermonuclear war," but the ... "[The North Koreangovernment] does not want to see foreigners in South Korea fall victim to the war," KCNA reported ... "So the fact that a nuclear-armed country has told foreigners to get out of South Korea because of a coming war, you don't regard as a specific threat?


So who do I believe?  I arrive in Incheon on Sunday.  By then, if there is no war, it should be safe.  On the other hand, perhaps I should check with United.

More not so good news.  The St. Regis recommended Yoshino as the site for peak cherry blossoms in relative proximity to Osaka.  They provided exact details on how to get there.  So off I went and followed their directions.

Recall that I arrived in Tokyo too late and a couple of days ago I failed to get to Hitachi because of high winds.  Today, the problem was that I got lost in the translation.  That Suica card was supposed to take me there and back.  Unfortunately, there is such a thing as a Limited Express, where you need reserved seats for about 6 bucks more.  This I failed to get, so when I sat in a seat, someone came up and said I was in theirs.  This happened three times, so I finally figured out that this train was sold out and I had to stand and be jostled between the trains...for most of the 76 minute trip.  

When we arrived at Yoshino, there was a mob of people, with a line of perhaps 50 yards waiting to buy departing tickets.  I thought it was wise to first purchase my return before I caught the cable car up the mountain.  The line hardly moved, and an hour later I was getting close.  However, I noticed that various return trains were rapidly getting sold out, so when I got to the window, I asked for one three hours away.  Closed out.  Same until an hour and a half?  Okay, so I got a non-smoking window seat.  

However, the total trip up and down the mountain took two hours by cable car. The best I could do was to try to walk up as far as I could in 45 minutes, figuring that the down portion would be faster.  Cars were whizzing by, which was dangerous, but worse, I essentially saw less than if I walked around Tokyo, where the peak was reached a week ago.  I saw a bamboo forest, but this was the best I could do:


Not bad, but this was the ONLY sakura of any substance.  

The ride back was very comfortable, for I could sit the whole way.  I purchased a cup of sake and a another of jelly with kinako (soybean powder).  I then poured the sake into the powder, which enhanced the taste.

Remember that I had to move into another room, and the bathrooms were similar.  I took a long bath:


The Suntory Hibiki scotch was provided by the hotel.  There is a TV set to the right.

Here is another reason why changing rooms can be a problem.  I could not connect my computer, so the hotel sent a specialist who also could not make it work.  The wireless worked fine in the upstairs Fuji Suite.  He called some central office and it took us almost an hour to finally work out the problem.  In all my years of travel, this was a first.  Now I wonder if my computer will operate in the next hotel.

It was 5:30PM and I was starved, for I missed lunch in that ordeal.  The Italian restaurant here is excellent, but a bit expensive.  I sat, came the hot towel, bread with olive oil, and I noticed that a glass of wine was around $20 (and cheap one at that), with the Minestrone Soup at $22.  So I asked myself, do I really want to do this?  The answer was no, and I gave my profuse apologies and went across the street to order from an Italian take-out.  
Unfortunately, since the last time was here, the fast food store had closed, and was now a bakery.  Next door was Freshness Burger, so I ordered a cheeseburger, potato wedges and onion rings.  A few doors away was a Family Mart, to pick up a large beer and a salad.  I had my most satisfying meal, yet, physically and financially, on on this trip:


The total cost of everything you see was around $15.  And what a view.

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The Dow Jones attained, again, a new record, 14,673, with the S&P less than two points below its all-time high of April 2.

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