I'm now back in Osaka and the pace of life here makes the respite of Denman Island seem like a dream. My days are again a blur of reading and studying. I didn't get out much this week, but last night I joined some friends for drinks at a German pub in Tennoji (天王寺).
We stayed at the pub until last call and then went to karaoke. The trains stop running at about 12:30, at which time almost everyone is stuck wherever they are. I think this must be part of the huge success of karaoke here. The place we went to was seven stories about 20 rooms per story and packed at 2:30 AM. This is because staying in a karaoke room all night is cheaper than staying in a hotel. Moreover, you can order cheap food and drinks to your room. I only stayed for a couple of songs before heading out to my bike, grateful I wasn't stuck there all night.
Today, I went to the Osaka History Museum (Osaka-rekishi-hakubutsukan, 大阪歴史博物館). The holdings were a bit disappointing but the displays gave a good sense of the different periods of the city. For one thing, I learned that the historic site that's visible from my window, is the remains of the Naniwa Palace (Naniwa no mia, 難波宮), which was the Imperial seat for a while before 655. During this time, Osaka was the political as well as financial center of Japan. Although, the Imperial seat never returned and the Shogunate was only briefly centered in Osaka, the city remained the center of commerce until the rise of Tokyo in the 19th century.