The hottest news I have had right now is about my experience in Japan last week! I had been given opportunity to visit Osaka University for two weeks as guest scientist and I am very grateful with the invitation. This time I was not going alone; there was another labmate who accompanied me so I (at least) wouldn’t feel lonely during my stay. For your information, in OU’s laboratory I visited there was a large number of Indonesians that were also former members of Computational Material Design – Quantum Engineering (CMD-QE) Laboratory of ITB. Since years ago, Kasai-Laboratory of OU (or let’s call it Handai because… why not!) and CMD-QE in ITB are best-buddies. We often share same topic of research, student exchange and last year doctoral student from Handai went back to our home country to be a teacher.

Summer Wars replica in Osaka Castle Museum

Summer Wars replica in Osaka Castle Museum

This was my second trip abroad, second trip to Japan, first time to Osaka, second time during Winter (because of the snowstorm you know you will meet snow even though it was Osaka), and second trip abroad in February. If you want some unimportant facts, this was also my first trip which transfer is Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and second trip for academic purpose (which is a bit questionable). Before I forgot, these pictures are mine using Nokia N8 Camera.

OK, I’ll skip all the formalities and go for the content of the stay. We took off from Husein Sastranegara International Airport, Bandung, at February 3rd by AirAsia and arrived in Kansai International Airport, Osaka, about 11 PM Japan-Time. There wasn’t any transportation in the midnight so we went sleeping on 2nd Floor’s bench (which, according to the gossips, my senpais used the same spots each flight if they had to stay for a night – I thought we would be forced to rent a room in airport hotel, though… it is indeed cheaper this way). Unfortunately, I didn’t take lots of pictures this year unlike last year during my first visit. Most programs we had were workshops, seminaries and project meetings. I think I won’t share them here because they are unfinished projects. And of course I don’t have right to post anything without their permission.

Because all my Indonesian friends are Muslims and only I am the only Christian among them, I took liberty to eat almost anything without being worried about the content. If I compare the food in Osaka to Ishikawa back then, I will say Ishikawa wins this round. Part of it because we ate like, in restaurant, everyday back then but we need to buy anything on our own to-day. Osaka is known as city of snacks (nickname courtesy of my glutton friend) so even before I went there, I know what I want to eat:

Taiyaki bought in Mermaid Cafe at Kaiyukan Aquarium, Osaka

Taiyaki bought in Mermaid Cafe at Kaiyukan Aquarium, Osaka

  1. Takoyaki (even Hello Kitty Osaka edition’s costume is takoyaki)
  2. Okonomiyaki (fuyunghai …I mean, like, omelet-like)
  3. Issen Yoshoku in Kyoto (Kyoto’s original okonomiyaki)
  4. Taiyaki (fish-shaped snack with red-beans filling inside)
  5. Onigiri, Mochi, Ramen, Udon, Soba and junkfood including McD… (why are these on the list-)

Halal-food for Muslim friends is kinda rare here. Fortunately, there is Halal-dishes served in University’s canteen and Indian restaurant with Halal-Certificate. My friend always asked me to help him picking tuna-onigiri in supermarket because I can read Kana. Although rare, it is said that Japan is thinking of introducing Halal-food business nowadays since they also have tourists that came from Middle East. If you want to eat Osaka-snacks but are afraid if they are not Halal, I can recommend you Taiyaki (a fish-shaped cake with red-beans filling, no meat!), Okonomiyaki (but pick the vegetarian one), Issen Yoshoku (it is located in Kyoto near Gion Station and the list is in English, you can tell the chef to remove some ingredients you don’t like), Takoyaki (the filling is octopus). I don’t recommend Onigiri, Mochi, KitKat, Pocky or any snacks except MEIJI chocolates/ice-cream if you can’t read Kanji/Kana. For me, the only thing I won’t touch is wasabi.

Below read more is the list of places I’ve visited! There are few pictures each places, but – just enjoy!

Hankyu Umeda Station in the morning

Hankyu Umeda Station in the morning

Umeda! If you go to Osaka, be sure to visit Umeda! I am proud that I got lost here twice. There are giant red Ferris-wheel, shopping malls and bustling city. Because the nearest station is Kitasenri, I always took Hankyu Railway to go anywhere. Somehow, even now I can’t not remember the jingle. I always hummed it every time the jingle played.

Because of reasons, I often go traveling alone. With the help of Dolly-Pad (vandroid pad I had) google map which gives accurate, detailed and up-to-date information for trains/bus, I can go to Osaka-Jou and Kyoto alone.

Snowstorm at Valentine Day, a (solo) trip to Osaka Castle

Snowstorm at Valentine Day, a (solo) trip to Osaka Castle

If someone didn’t tell me beforehand, I wouldn’t even remember that I went to Osaka Castle for alone during snowstorm at Valentine Day. It…. somehow… feels really lonely and miserable. No wonder I saw couples here and there. But it was snowing all day and I was too busy to fight the cold and taking photos. Sucks to be you, someone who born and lived too long in tropical islands and had to strive to life in -1 degree Celcius. I wished I was not allergic to cold like this.

Osaka Castle during Snowstorm (Valentine version)

Osaka Castle during Snowstorm (Valentine version)

I also went to Shinsei-bashi-suji, Kaiyukan Aquarium, Namba-street, ANIMATE Nipponbashi otaku-shop and somewhat stranded in Ebisuchou for unknown reason. The places I wanted but couldn’t were Takarazuka Revenue (obviously in Takarazuka), Kobe (eating fish), Nara (only to feed some deers), and Universal Studio. Two of them were out of question because the price choked my wallet and I would have been died in an instant, I didn’t have time to go to Kobe and Nara since it was a long ride and the train fee was absurdly high. I’ll put Kyoto pictures in separate post.

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