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Starting our adventure in Japan

rain 59 °F
View Bill and Hope 2019 on HopeEakins's travel map.

In Osaka, we were well accompanied by a guide recommended by Chris Rowthorn. Sakae took us on busses and subways through the modern CBD (central business district) to Osaka Castle, a 17th century fortress in the middle of the city, surrounded by a major moat. The moat walls and the castle foundation are 90 meters high and built of huge cut rocks that have never fallen through centuries of wars, fires, earthquakes, and WWII bombing (which destroyed 90% of the city). Wow! Another wow: a group of teens on a school trip left their backpacks on the ground (neatly arranged) because there is no theft in Japan!

The Plum Garden was not yet fully in bloom, but we could smell the heady scent of the blossoms and see the bare branches covered with tiny flowers. The structure of the trees looks just like Japanese paintings. (!) We were in fairyland and we loved it. Sakae opined that Tokyo’s cherry blossoms are nothing compared to Osaka’s plum blossoms. Tokyo’s cherry trees are hybrids, she said, and so they all open at the exact same time and fall at almost the same time a week later. Buddhists see this coincidence as symbolic of the ephemeral nature of life. Sakae much prefers the many species of cherry and plum and apricot trees in Osaka that have a longer blooming season and a huge variety of colors and sizes. We agree with her.

For lunch we sat around a grill at a local restaurant and watched as the chef deftly prepared fried noodles and an Osaka “pancake” with eggs of a remarkable color. Those with good eyes should look almost to the bottom of the column on the English menu.

Finally, we walked through Dotombori, a district filled with entertainment and neon signs and young dressed in wild costumes. We met a Buddhist priest at a small shrine whose current ministry is to Filipina women who have been abandoned by their Japanese “husbands.”

Some of the photos are duplicated, we know. Apologies.


Posted by HopeEakins 20:10 Archived in Japan

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