We left Takayama this morning and arrived in Ôsaka mid-afternoon today, to get in just one last smidge of tourism before our flight out tomorrow.
We're staying in the Hotel Granvia, which is a chain that possibly specializes in being on top of JR stations? There was one in Kyoto too. The room is not spacious in the least, and the bench/table combo looks unfortunately like a mobile home or a train, but the bed has a memory foam topper that I am *so* looking forward to sleeping on. And they rent laptops for ~$10/night. So, though chosen for convenience not luxury, I don't think I'll have any complaints.
(Oh, and there is a whole room of vending machines on our floor, including ice cream, socks, and underwear.)
After we checked in, we made our way across the river to the Museum of Oriental Ceramics (their translation, not mine). Most of this was taken up by a special 25th-anniversary exhibition about the collecting activities of ATAKA Eiichi, whose collection constitutes the bulk of the museum. (He was a businessman whose company went under; a group of other corporations donated his enormous collection to the City.) The English labels were just an introductory section and then the barest identifying information, so I'm not sure, but it appeared to be organized around Ataka's growth as a collector.
There were some very fine pieces from Korea and China, including lovely Goryeo-dynasty celadon works and some vibrant Ming-dynasty pieces. Also a highly peculiar room of pictures taken of pieces in the collection with food and things on them, as though they were going to be used for their intended purposes. I admit to being of two minds about this.
Then we wandered the city a bit. We passed a rose garden along the river that would be lovely when things are blooming, but since they aren't now and it was hot in the sun we passed it by. (Since we got drenched in Kamakura, the weather has been either drizzly or very nice. Today was the first "eek, hot" day, and even then it wasn't so bad in the shade.)
Then, for contrast, we walked down a covered street/mall which might well send someone into seizures. (The most garish flashing came from, not a pachinko parlor or a bar, but a _pet store_.) And because we couldn't resist, we headed into an underground shopping town called "Whity" (which may or may not be pronounced "whitey", but that's how we read it). This eventually led us back to the JR station, where a very nice person explained what train to take for the airport tomorrow, and which cars *not* to get in because they split off to a different destination. Always good to know.
Then we walked over to the Umeda Sky Building, a 40-story skyscraper that's two buildings joined together at the top by an observatory--to get there, you take a glass elevator *and* a transparently-covered escalator from one building to the other. Though this was a ridiculously touristy thing to do, I really enjoyed it. We're only here for one afternoon, so we might as well get the birds-eye view of the city.
Ôsaka has a lot of tall buildings of varying shapes, but also wide green public spaces on either side of the river, a lot of bridges including some we could not figure out the purpose of, and baseball and soccer games visible from 40 stories up. And though the sunset itself was hidden behind dense clouds, there was some great light just before sunset. I took a bunch of pictures which almost certainly will not convey the effect, but we'll see. (Also some museum pictures, which will be a good test of my fancy new Canon SD800's abilities when indoors without flash, which it's supposed to be good at.)
(There is also a submerged garden-island in front of the building which is quite nice.)
On the way back we discovered the tunnel through the rail station cargo yard, which we'd had to walk allll the way around on the way there, because there was no way we could have found it from the other side. (I think this city is less well-supplied in the signs department than the other cities we've been in, though possibly our running-out-of-steam had something to do with our confusion.) Also, things may have been under construction. If you go looking for it, ask someone to draw you a map or give you landmarks.
Oh, and on the walls of the above-ground portion of the path through the cargo yard, there was a very peculiar story on posters. Its subject appeared to be "a little, law mentor" (sic) who ended up winning a princess, but you were supposed to read it starting in the other direction, so we couldn't make any sense of it--though, given what we did read, I'm not sure it would have made any difference.
And now I am going to answer comments and then *sleep*. It was a long day today, and though we appear to have successfully changed our seats to the exit row for the trip back!, it's going to be an even longer day tomorrow.
ETA: pictures from this day at http://pics.livejournal.com/kate_nepveu/gallery/00034gfh
Oh, and I intend to write a post summing up Worldcon and summing up Japan; I'll probably work on those in airports and such tomorrow.