Day two began just south of Osaka where we visited a small but very impressive local natural history museum. A very dedicated and VERY enthusiastic volunteer gave a rather long tour of the exhibits before taking us behind the scenes to the storage space, full of jars of specimens and stuffed tanuki dressed up in plaid golf suits.
After lunch we met with the honorary director of the museum, a venerable old gentleman well into his 80s. He too, however, was rather long winded and we were over an hour late heading back into Osaka to meet with a past grad working at a museum in the city. All we had time for was a quick run through the permanent exhibits (and a majestic if marred by reflections view of downtown Osaka and the castle) and the a brief peek behind the scenes (where we were accosted by a part-time security guard who didn't know the curator and was rather insistent he usher us out of what was supposed to be a closed museum!).
But the best part of the day came after I said goodbye to my advisor (heading to have drinks with the curator before grabbing a Shinkansen back to Tokyo) and the other students (off to buy gifts and kill a few hours before their overnight bus back). I jumped on a train and headed to Kobe where a friend from my Harvard days met me at the station. We caught up over a painfully slow but delicious Thai dinner and then back to his place. His wife and two small kids were still awake and despite assertions that they tended to be shy, I had them both sitting on my lap within a few minutes, and was sent to bed with a chorus of "g'nai!" and two sets of little arms encircling my neck for goodnight hugs.