Indi and I are happy to report that we have been joined for the next week+ by one of our best friends! Nikki and her husband, Brad, took the road trip to California with us back in April and waved goodbye from Long Beach as we set out on the cargo ship to New Zealand…which seems like YEARS ago. By happy chance, the stars aligned once again and she landed at Kansai International Airport here in Osaka yesterday. She brought her ball jointed doll, Arienette, with her too. She fit in immediately.
After an airport rendezvous and a brief settling-in period here at the J&F House (not to mention many hugs and shared stories) we ventured into the cold rain to get some food. At our local yakisoba joint, Nikki got her first taste (puns!) of Japanese culture as we explained the hot towels, the yelling for assistance, and general do’s-and-don’ts of existence here. I cannot explain how happy we are to have company for a little while. We have sorely missed our friends and family, and this way we get to cheat a little and spend time with someone for Thanksgiving. Though turkey cannot be bought here for any price.
Yesterday night we took the train to Shinsaibashi, one of the big shopping areas of Osaka, to see a concert. By an altogether separate coincidence, my favorite band MuteMath scheduled a brief tour of Japan during our stay. So while some of my friends saw them back in Tulsa at the Cain’s Ballroom, I saw there on the 8th floor of a skyscraper amongst a nearly-all-Japanese crowd of rabid fans. And I really mean rabid. Japanese concert goers are quite the pushers. They also seem to have texted each other beforehand to iron out choreographed moves, as everyone chanted, pointed, fist-pumped, and screamed on cue with each other. It was a great show and MuteMath put on another amazing performance. My only disappointment is that photography was forbidden so I only got a few shots before one of the event staff came up and (in perfect English) told me to knock it off. Sad face.
We crashed hard afterwards (Nikki had spent the last twenty-five hours flying to Japan, remember) but the caffeine-fueled evening helped us all get on the same schedule today. The weather was cold again today (but no rain!) and we headed BACK to the Shinsaibashi area to do some shopping. We slowly meandered down to Den Den Town so we could achieve one of Nikki’s visitation goals: maid cafe. We had scouted a good one out some weeks ago and we beelined for it. We sat for about an hour and a half in the cute little cafe as we enjoyed some hot beverages in the company of some impossibly cute Japanese girls in maid outfits. They evidently don’t get many Westerners as we got some free pictures with them (at their insistence) and the one dressed as a devil maid often came up to practice her English and inquire as to our reasons for coming to Osaka. It was good times.
Tonight wrapped with a listening party. Nikki’s husband Brad has a band back in Tulsa named Baron Von Swagger, and they had a CD Release Party on the 13th. As a gift, Nikki brought us their first album, Our Home Will Be Our Own. We were big fans before we left, and mega-fans now. The new album sounds FANTASTIC, guys, and I hope you are very proud of it. It’s made us miss home quite a lot, but we are equally glad to be able to carry around this little piece of it with us.
The next few days we’ll be showing her our haunts in Osaka, after which we now have rail passes to explore Hiroshima, Kyoto, and Tokyo. The only thing left to do is find some cheap warmer clothes! Gah!