Kashiwa ni watashitachi no uchi desu.
Our Apartment in Kashiwa.

This is a view of the front door of our mansion in Kashiwa. It's on the 5th floor of a large apartment block. The big green swimming pool is actually a roof. A friend of mine wants to play soccer on that roof, or at least get some deck chairs. I think this is a pretty funny idea - but I don't think the caretaker would be able to cope with the excitement. The strange looking net in the background is a basketball court on top of the Post Office.

AstroBoy Shop
Oosaka ni astro-boy mise desu.
Astro-boy Shop in Osaka.

Whenever you go somewhere tourist oriented in Japan, there are always lots of shops. For the Japanese, it seems that it is pointless to go anywhere without hauling back some weird junk for your friends and relatives. The amusing thing is that most of the stuff is the same, wherever you go. But, I did enjoy the Astro-boy shop near the aquarium in Osaka. I loved that show when I was a kid. In Kanji, Astro Boy means "Iron" "Ability/Talent", and then in Katakana "Atomic". Nearby, we found some neat Sushi and TakoYaki fridge-magnets.

Oosaka ni Horror-Panic '99 desu.
Horror-Panic Haunted House in Osaka.

Apparently, haunted-house attractions are a popular summertime diversion for younger Japanese. You wonder around in a dark, dimly lit corridor, and things jump out and scream at you, etc. The bonus is that you get out of the hot sticky heat for a little while. I hadn't seen this kind of thing since primary school.... and it is still just as fun. I think the best thing is the anticipation of the next gruesome surprise. Fiona screamed a fair bit. The highlight was at the end, when we could see daylight again. A little Japanese guy dressed as a ghost sneaked up behind us, and when Fiona saw him she screamed so loudly that he nearly ran away!

Oosaka machi ni mimashita.
Looking at Osaka.

Also near the aquarium, the world's biggest ferris wheel. It takes about 15 minutes to do one revolution, and in that time you get a good view of the city, the harbour and the surrounding area. We were in Osaka on a hazy day at the end of summer, so the visibility was not very good. One impression that we had of Osaka was that it's much smaller than Tokyo, and more convenient - it doesn't take as long on the train. We also thought that the local people were friendlier and more relaxed.  They are not as fashion crazy either.  For some reason, we got the impression that more people speak English - but perhaps it's simply that more people are willing to speak English!

Whale Shark at Oosaka Aquarium
Oosaka Aquarium
Osaka Aquarium.

This huge Whale Shark is the star exhibit of Osaka Aquarium. The building is several floors high, with displays of aquatic life from around the world. Some highlights for me were the huge deep-sea crabs, sunfish, turtles and the artificial forest. We were impressed by the fact that there were lots of kids there, but not going beserk, making noise, or being annoying - as you might expect in Australia. We spent three hours looking around. The main tank is absolutely huge - and I imagined being allowed to swim around with all the (well-fed) sharks and fish.