The kind of exhausted where I fall asleep during a 3-minute train ride, where my eyes are so heavy that I’m unsure if I’ll have the energy to get up to brush my teeth, where thoughts of a warm, comfortable bed constantly cross my mind, where the bags under my eyes seem to get bigger every day, where even as I’m writing this, I can feel my eyes drooping shut.
This has been my week since arriving into Japan, but I’ve been loving every single second of it.
After my experience on Mount Emei (did I mention that the girl behind me was vomiting the entire bus ride?) and the 10 hours of traveling from China to Japan, I was anxious to get to my hostel, settle in for the night, and get a good night’s rest.
Little did I know what I was about to find.
I got back to the hostel after a quick trip out to get dinner and I was nervous that I would disturb my sleeping dormmates upon my return.
I arrived to my room and was surprised to see light spilling out from under the door. “Good, I won’t have to tiptoe around,” I thought.
I pushed the door open and poked my head in. Nobody to be seen.
Then I heard them.
Six guys hanging around on our patio, wearing matching outfits, looking like they were having a great time.
I discovered that there were 14 Argentinians staying in my hostel to support their football (soccer) team, River Plate FC. Their team was playing against Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the Club World Cup semi-finals the next day and they made the journey to support them (along with 15,000 other Argentinian fans).
They invited me to share their favorite drink—Fernet mixed with Coca Cola–and to hang out with them on the patio. I accepted, of course.
I got up early the next morning to make my way around the city. Osaka is famous for its delicious food, so I made it a point to eat as much as possible.
Here are some of the items that I’ve eaten in Japan so far:
Takoyaki—($6.50 for 8) This is a cooked ball with octopus chunks inside. It was really soft, piping hot, and melted in my mouth. I was surprised at how filling they were.
Tako Tamago–($1.60 for 1) Baby octopus on a stick with a quail egg stuffed into its head. This didn’t look very appetizing, but I thought that I would try it anyway. I nibbled on the legs first, then bit into the head. It had a really nice flavor, kinda sweet and salty, and was tough and chewy. I wouldn’t buy it again but I did eat the whole thing.
Strawberries—($9 for 4) I know, I can get strawberries just about anywhere. Hood strawberries (from Oregon) are very sweet, juicy, and delicious, and are readily available. My favorite place to get them is at Hoffman Farms. If you’re ever in the area, please go visit this lovely, family-owned farm!
The strawberries in Osaka are famous for their sweetness and they’re red all the way through with no hollow center.
Pineberry—($10 for 1) I saw these white strawberries and was immediately intrigued. Why are they white? Why are they so expensive? I found out that they are specially bred to taste like a pineapple (hence, the name) but look like a strawberry.
I bought one and sat down at a table in the eating area. I felt like I should be more ceremonious about eating my pineberry, perhaps alone in a room with hundreds of candles, dim lighting, and a tiny fork and knife.
Since I had none of those items, I decided to eat it at the food court in the market where I purchased it. It felt like a little white treasure in my hand and it was mine… all mine.
One bite into it and the sweet flavor exploded in my mouth. Another bite, another bite. Nibble… then it was done.
I looked down at my wrapper, strawberry stem, and empty wallet. This pineberry was great, but $10 for that? Bah.
Fresh Fish—(varies) nothing beats fresh fish. I went to a sushi restaurant and they showed a fish to us, then promptly prepared it to be eaten.
Lunch Sets—($10-25) I love the beautiful set meals that you can order in Japan. They are delicious and extremely filling.
It’s exhausting to travel from city to city and to live out of a backpack… but it’s all worth it. I may feel tired all the time, but I am so grateful that I am able to experience all of these wonderful new places and to meet people from all over the world.
For now, adventure awaits… sleep will come later.