Osaka is a bustling, working town and feels quite different from Tokyo: perhaps Atlanta compared to New York? We had a really interesting time walking around and getting a feel for the city. There was not enough time to see much, and we plan on returning again for a longer visit. One highlight was going to "taishi engeki" (大衆演劇), returning translated as "theater of/for the masses." It was a very strange experience and best explained by the link to the wikipedia page. The best part was the little old lady who came up to the stage during solo performances and tucked 10,000 yen ($100) bills in the belts of kimonoes. Between 20,000 and 60,000 a pop, she tucked over $3,000 worth of tips that night!
Here is a link to the youtube video of the Osaka portion of the trip: Osaka 2010
We also went to a shrine near Nara in the Kyoto area that is famous for it connection to the year of the tiger (in this case, 2010). Haruna was born in a year of the tiger, so we, along with thousands of other people, went there to pay our respects and wish for health, wealth and wisdom.
Here is a link to the youtube video of that outing: Visit to Tiger shrine.
To finish off the trip, we decided to go WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). It is an excellent way to meet people in a non-touristy way, especially if you like farming! In exchange for six hours of work, you get a place to sleep and three meals.
Since Joan is a farming junkie and writes about it, it seemed a perfect match. We found an organic tomato farm on Shikoku island, south of Osaka and arranged to stay for six days.
A five-hour bus ride got us to the island (on the bridge, we passed over the world famous Naruto whirlpools - very impressive boat eating sized whirlpools) and finally to Ikumi, a famous surfing town on the Pacific coast of Shikoku, the fourth largest island in Japan.
To read more about our WWOOOFing experience, you can read Joan's post on her blog: Farming Holiday: WWOOFing in Japan
There is also a youtube video slide show: WWOOFing in Winter!