The day before reaching Osaka we stopped at Takarazuka.
Why? Why the hell not!
No, seriously, Takarazuka is where the KING lived. Nope, I'm not talking about Elvis, not that KING. I'm talking about Osamu Tezuka, the one and only KING when it comes to Manga. We arrived kinda late in the afternoon, set up our tent in a park, went to sleep and the morning after we visited the museum of his creations. I couldn't take any pictures nor shoot videos, but fortunately, a web visit of the museum is possible thanks to Google Street View, you can check it out HERE.
After the visit at the museum we rode the last 40ish kilometers to Osaka where, instead of bluntly camping everywhere like we usually do, we planned on taking advantage of the extreme kindness of Efrem, a former university classmate, that told us we could stay at his place while in Osaka. And that's exactly what we did : thanks again for letting us crash on your floor for 3 days, Efrem!
We spent the first day with him, taking it easy and reminiscing about our years together in Venice, studying Japanese at the Ca'Foscari University. The second day we payed a visit to the Specialized Concept Store in Osaka, Rabbit Street Esaka, where the super kind Takuya-san and Matsumoto-san were waiting for us and gave our 1800 km "old" Tricross bikes a complete check up!
After the "group shot" in front of the store, we took our freshly checked and rejuvenated bikes for a spin around the Umeda area, the second largest train station in Osaka, and visited the ferris wheel and the Umeda Sky Building Observatory, from wich you can have an amazing view of the whole city by night!
After having a bit of the famous Okonomiyaki of Osaka, we headed back to Efrem's and went to sleep. The following day, for the first time since we started, I didn't spend the day with Sio; while had some work to do and went to a Starbucks to work in peace, I spent the whole day in Dotombori, the commercial area of the city, with my beloved Fuji X-pro1 and focused solely on shooting street photography.
Around 8 pm I met with Sio, Efrem and Yuna and we hit the town for a fun night out all together! The next day, we briefly visited the Osaka Castle and we left, heading towards Nara, but not before the second worthy receiver of one of our Babel Line t-shirts : a true Power Ranger, all busy setting us a barbeque with his friends in the castle's park.
After this freaking epic encounter, we left Osaka for good and started cycling towards Nara, the old capital of Japan and famous for it's Todaiji, the world's ancient wood temple inside of which you can find Japan's biggest Buddha statue. Once we got there, it was already late at night and we decided to go ahead and call it a day, setting up our tent in a park and going to sleep. Funny thing : the following day we discovered that we accidentally set up our tent in the middle of the old imperial palace's gardens. How did we find out, you ask? Simple. We got awakened by the police telling us we couldn't stay there :) You know, it's ONLY a World Heritage Site, afterall! We apologized, packed up and went to Nara Park, where we visited the Todaiji (along with many other temples and pagodas) and played a good hour and a half with the super friendly deers that inhabit the area (just like in Miyajima!)
After playing with the deers (you should really check out the vlog if you feel you're in for a surprise) we bathed in the local hot springs and went to sleep in our confy tent. The following day we left Nara and cycled towards Kyoto, after paying a visit to Nara Dreamland, the abandoned amusement park right outside of the city!
Is it freely accessible, you ask? Well, sure it is, if by "freely accessible" you mean moving some wooden barns, cutting through some barbed wire, and jumping across some barricades :)
Anyhow, we managed to get in unnoticed and visited the whole park. Afterall, an abandoned amusement park it's not an everyday sight and we couldn't simply miss it.
A few kilometers later, we got to Kyoto...
The travel continues...