I'm in Shanghai at the moment.
I flew to Osaka and had a great time catching up with lots of friends.
I visited a few of my favorite places in Osaka (Spa World, izakayas, and okonomiyaki and yakiniku restaurants) and also went for a swim in Lake Biwa near Kyoto.
I also visited Mimizuka, the Ear and Nose mound. It was customary for samurai to show the heads of the enemies they had killed in battle to their lords as proof of their deeds. When one of the Japanese warlords ordered the invasion of Korea in 1592 he wanted heads sent back from Korea. There wasn't room on the boats for all of the heads, so they sent back ears and noses instead. They were later buried in a mound in Kyoto. Now there is a marker and a sign in Japanese and Korean (but no English).
Then I took the ferry from Osaka to Shanghai. It's a long trip (49 hours), but I was able to relax on the ship. You could tell it was a Chinese operated ship. As well as the standard facilities which you'd expect (bathrooms, reading rooms, restaurant) there was also a table-tennis table and a mahjong room.
One of my friends from Australia is living in Shanghai, so I'm staying with him. Shanghai has an interesting history. It was controlled by foreign powers after China lost the opium wars. A museum in Shanghai refers to the Shanghai of that time as "a metropolis infested with foreign adventurers."
Shanghai is a huge city and (even compared to Japan) everywhere seems crowded. And people aren't nearly as polite or patient as they are in Japan. Shanghai is hosting the 2010 World Expo and there is a lot of construction going on at the moment.
I also visited People's Park. On Sundays lots of parents go there and display their unmarried adult children's resumes, in the hopes of finding a match.
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is one of Shanghai's landmarks.
A sign at the tower's entrance had the following message:
Luckily I was allowed in.
There are some good views of the city from the observation decks (including a glass floor that you can walk on and look a long way down).
The view of the city at night is especially impressive.
Handy Chinese Expression of the Day:
Wo bu shi gui, wo shi jiangshi.
I'm not a ghost, I'm a zombie.