In the warm light of morning I was able to reassess Rinku a bit. Technically, it’s “Rinkuu”, with one of those bi-syllabic vowels beloved of the Japanese. You know, as in “Tookyoo”. Really.
Also technically, it wasn’t actually morning. I slept until 10AM for the first time in living memory (I have a toddler at home, remember) and then hovered over my computer until about 1PM. With a shuttle to the airport booked for 3:30, and hunger gnawing at me, at finally ventured out. It had fifteen hours since my last meal, and that had been a Japanese airline dinner. Edible, but not substantial.
One of the great benefits of social media is that when you have a big enough network and post something like, “I am spending the night at Kansai”, you actually get helpful suggestions. I have no privacy, but I have a very large, global help-desk. One of my friends, who has spent a few layovers in Rinku himself, pointed out that the Rinku(u) Outlet Mall was about 700 yards up the road from where I was staying. I had a stroll up the road for lunch, during which the charms of Rinku were somewhat more apparent than they had been the previous evening. Make no mistake, it’s still a charmless industrial port town, but at least it has:
A Starbucks. Don’t underestimate the importance of a grande coffee of the day to the weary traveler.
Mountains. Rinku is wedged between the mountains and the sea. The story of inhabited Japan is of dense strips of people wedged between the mountains and sea, so this isn’t surprising. But they were clear in the distance in the morning, and made a nice backdrop to the town.
A beach. True, the beach has something of an overengineered look, being razor’s-edge straight, lined with concrete and covered with suspiciously uniformly-sized stones. But it also had a promenade and a park that made for a pleasant post-prandial stroll. Unfortunately the offshore view is the airport, but you can’t have everything. I regretted not propelling myself out for a jog earlier in the morning.
An enormous Ferris wheel, the “Seacle” (a pun of some kind?), part of the Rinku Pleasure World mall, opposite the outlet mall. The only thing riding the Ferris wheel when I looked was a person-sized Winnie-the-Pooh doll, which I rather expect didn’t pay full-fare. But I’m sure the Ferris wheel offers panoramic views of the airport. And the mountains.
Cleanliness. I’ve been to Tokyo and seen enough to know that cleanliness is not exclusive to Rinku. But coming from Beijing, which is relatively tidy as Chinese cities go, the contrast is still amazing. The beach had not one visible scrap of litter. Everything was clean. Even the trucks were immaculate. I saw a cement truck. You could have eaten sushi off of any part of it. In China, every truck you see looks like it was last used to haul around a circus elephant with dysentery. In Japan the trucks all look like they were just detailed. It’s a little weird, actually.
Enough said. From now on, whenever I have to delete an obscene comment, I will replace the text with this image.