Shin Osaka Station Hotel Honkan is a business hotel located near the Shin Osaka Station, about a ten minute walk. True to its label as a business hotel, it is not at all luxurious, but it served a purpose: fairly cheap accommodation and a place to call “home”. I would not normally use the word “home” when referring to a Japanese business hotel, but this one was different. Yes, the room was small and, to be honest, uncomfortable, but the hotel staff made us feel very welcome and went out of their way to interact with us and make us feel comfortable. We stayed for three nights and we looked forward to breakfast. Every morning, the hotel lobby turned into a small family owned breakfast diner. It was fantastic!
They served traditional Japanese favorites for breakfast, but also served up their version of a Western breakfast. The atmosphere in the lobby felt like home. Mike, Judy, Melissa, and I would sit and have our Western style breakfast, drink hot tea and coffee, and chat and catch up. It’s not easy living thousands of miles away from family, but the Shin Osaka Station Hotel Honkan gave us our first real chance in a long time to be together and just enjoy one another’s company. Arigato Nihon!
With full stomachs, we headed to the subway and Atomic Boy led us right to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.
The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan was a fantastic aquarium! I was very impressed with the whale sharks gliding through one of the biggest tanks I’ve seen and I loved the penguins. I’ve always had a soft spot for penguins. They seem to endure so much on the ice, but once they hit the water, they let it all go and have fun!
We said goodbye to the sea life and Melissa and Judy! Once we were back outside in the heat, Mike and I decided to go to a baseball game! Melissa and Judy said they would pass, even though Kyocera Dome is, well, a dome with air conditioning! They decided to spend the afternoon shopping and us men would attend Mike’s first professional Japanese baseball game! The Orix Buffaloes call Osaka’s Kyocera Dome home and their opponent on this humid day in Japan would be the Rakuten Eagles. Sound familiar? I attended a game in Sendai, Japan of the same match up! (See my blog “I’ve Got a Fever and the Only Prescription is Japanese Baseball!” published on April 26, 2019). So for me, a rematch…but first, we needed tickets.
Thanks to the technology of the day, I whipped out my iPhone and checked the Orix Buffaloes website. Sold out. Next I checked Viagogo, a third party ticket site similar to StubHub. Success! Tickets for sale and not that expensive, so I spouted off my credit card number and we had tickets. According to the site, I would receive an email with instructions to pick up the tickets at a soon-to-be-named Japanese konbini. There were several within a couple of blocks of the aquarium, Lawson, Family Mart, 7-11, and a Mini Mart, so Mike and I decided to have lunch and wait for the email.
Time went by and no email. I checked every 15 minutes. Nothing. The game was scheduled to start at 3pm… 2pm rolled around and still no email. We decided to start the journey to the stadium, feeling pretty confident there would be plenty of konbinis around and the email would come soon. We were on a bus to the stadium when 2:30pm rolls around. No email. No tickets. I called the customer service number for Viagogo. I explained our situation and the customer service representative said she would have to call me back. Many minutes passed. It was now 2:50pm. My phone vibrated and I answered. It was Viagogo.
“The gentlemen who listed the tickets for sale today has decided not to sell them.”
“What?” Was she kidding me? “Are you serious?” Yes, she was serious.
“Yes. I’m sorry sir.” We will refund your purchase to your credit card. Again, Viagogo apologizes for any inconvenience.”
“We’ve just arrived at the stadium and you are telling me I have no tickets?!”
“I’m sorry sir.”
“How does this happen? Does your company vet these ticket sellers? It seems that once you put them up for sale on your site, that should be it. They are for sale…no take-backs! I hope this person is fined or banned from using your site in the future.”
“Yes sir. The seller will be reprimanded.”
I hung up the phone. Mike and I had just arrived at the station and the person that agreed to sell the tickets backed out of the sale at the last minute. Unreal! We exited the bus and walked to the stadium. As we approached, a security guard walked up to us.
“You looking to buy ticket?” he asked.
“Hai,” I responded.
“Go up and migi,” he instructed.
“Up and to the right Mike. We may have a chance!”
Mike and I reached the game day ticket booth and purchased two tickets, just as the game was beginning. Pretty good seats, too! And as we looked around, there were hundreds of empty seats! The game was far from sold out, even though the Orix Buffaloes site claimed there were no tickets for today. We had a great time at the game and Mike experienced the organized cheering, chanting, beer girls with pony keg backpacks, 7th inning stretch balloons, and the love the Japanese have for baseball. Not a bad afternoon, even though the Buffaloes were soundly defeated by the Eagles.
Meeting back up with Melissa and Judy, we ended the evening searching for a place to eat dinner. We ended up finding a nice little restaurant where we could sit and have a glass of wine for some and beer for others paired with some delicious main entrees of steak and chicken and pasta. I must acknowledge here that Judy was once again served last. At most of our evening meals, Judy was always the last one to receive her food and often well after most of us were almost done eating, as she insisted we eat our food hot! This is a trend that followed us all over Japan, until our last night in Tokyo.
Back at our hotel, we all turned in to prepare for our departure from Osaka the next morning. Our next stops will be Kyoto and Nara, the ancient capitals of Japan!
More Japan exploration in part three of our family adventure is coming soon, so keep checking A Thousand Miles from Kansas…or better yet, subscribe and follow so you don’t miss a thing!
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