Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 141- October 1

By Al

Today was much better than yesterday.  The sun was shining and the wind was moderate.  There were several branches down from trees and a few wrecked umbrellas in the hedges.  I am sure the Japanese would not just throw umbrellas away at the side of the road.  They are too neat.  So, I assumed that the umbrellas were ones that had gotten carried away by the wind.  Many people needed new umbrellas after the typhoon.

Anyway, we were going to go to the Sumiyashi Taisha Shrine.  It was about a two mile walk from the hostel.  It is fun to walk around Japan because you get to see things so much better.  The only real interesting thing about the trip was that for several blocks a man in a red shirt followed us.  He would stay about half a block behind.  When we stopped he would stop.  We started to test this by randomly stopping and it was true.  We were a little concerned, but he did keep his distance.  Finally, after about a half mile, he went into a store.  Maybe he was just curious about where four gaijin were going.

Tommy Lee Jones is all over Japan with this ad for a coffee drink.  American movie stars are sometimes reluctant to do commercials in the United States because it might interfere with their star status.  However, that is not a problem in Japan and so they frequently do ads in Japan. 

This is a street shrine.  You see these all over Japan.  Local people take care of them.

We as we were nearing the shrine, we went through a city park. There was a preschool that was rehearsing some sort of performance. You could tell the different classes by the color of their hats, of course. One class would go out into a field and then the music would come on a boom box and the kids would rehearse a dance. I use the term rehearse loosely. These were 3 to 5 year olds and they danced together with varying degrees of success. 

A warning sign in the park. You can guess what this is for.  It is a little more graphic than it would be in the United States.

Different classes of kids.

The shrine was very nice, but we seem to have lost the card with the photos of the shrine.  If we find them, we will add them later.

After the shrine, we took a trolley to get some mochi and a sweet green sauce.  I don't remember the name of the place and it would be on the lost picture card.  Anyway, this is a small place in Sakai that Amy came to love when she was living in Japan.  It is a small store that sells only one thing.  They make their own Mochi in the premises.  Mochi is pounded rice.  You really have to pound it until it becomes a very sticky paste.  I love it.  Anyway, they combine it with a sweet green sauce that is extremely good.  They sauce is a secret family recipe that has been in the family for about 400 years.  If we had the pictures, I could tell you exactly how long.  If you order it to eat there, you can get it served over shaved ice.  This is a very nice treat.  They only have the one store, and they are always busy. 

The trolley ride was also fun.  Osaka has subways, buses, and trolleys.  The trolleys are the most fun, because they go at ground level and through the middle of residential areas.  You get to see an interesting side of Japan. 

After the mochi, we walked over to Sakaihigashi and had a very nice Shabu Shabu lunch.  This is a type of food service where you have a large pot of very hot water on the table.  They then give you various vegetables and meats that have been thinly sliced.  You then cook them to you taste in the hot water.  It is a case of cooking you own dinner.  Drew once made a comment about having to cook you own dinner in Japan, what with okonomoyaki, shabu shabu, and yakiniku; all of which involve some cooking at the table by the people eating the food.  He said this once, but we never let him forget it every time we had an opportunity.  He took it well.

Anyway, Sally and Amy went shopping.  Drew and I went back to the Hostel to rest.  We agreed to meet at Namba that evening.  Namba is the big, lighted, shopping district of Osaka.  It has many bright signs.  The most famous is the running man.

The running man.

Sally and Amy watching the running man.

More of Namba.

The arcade that radiates from the running man in four directions.  This sort of arcade is common in Japan and can go on for blocks.  Essentially, the cover over a street and make it a pedestrian mall.  The cross streets may also be made into a mall or they may still be streets that pedestrians cross like any other street.  The arcade is not closed at the ends and is not heated.

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