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Everything’s Up To Date In Osaka City November 30, 2007

Posted by Mitch in General, Life in Japan, Travel.

I was the perpetrator of a “Greeting Hit and Run” today. The police are now tracking me down, having left an old woman in a state of shock. Prime Minister Fukuda is looking into taking international action. The crisis that my parents feared me causing is upon us.

As I left my house this morning, wincing as the frigidity of the weather made itself known, I heard the familiar cry of “Ohayo gozaimasu“, meaning “Good morning!”. It’s now instinct to respond in the like and so I did, turning round as I did so to see who had addressed me. I’m pretty certain that I live quite near an old people’s home and so there is a plethora of oldies for me to greet, doff my hat at and smile inanely at. However, upon turning around, I found that there was, in fact, no octogenarian present and that I had, in fact, shouted my greeting at an old woman addressing someone else. When I caught the look of surprise and horror in her eyes, I carried swiftly on my way, leaving the helpless old thing to her business. If questioned by the police at a later date, I’ll be sure to play the ‘stupid foreigner card’ that is so often used these days.

In other news, it’s well and truly autumn here. The mountain behind my apartment is a variety of different colours. It seems that summer left and all of a sudden Japan came to life. Colours are everywhere, thanks to the densely forested mountains that are ever present wherever you are here. There are even colours that you never knew existed that are suddenly in bloom, thanks to the turn in the weather. Yeah, it’s changed. The numbing heat to the numbing cold. It seems Japan isn’t happy unless it’s suffering from extreme weather. That said, it’s not as cold as in England. What makes it colder is the lack of insulation. What makes that even colder is the fact that they seem to have never heard of central heating. Apparently one of the most technologically advanced nations in the world (for the record, I’m yet to see evidence of this, but, being in a rural area, I suppose that is par for the course) that is subject to, by all accounts, vicious winters doesn’t see the need for “pansy-ass heating”. Especially not in schools. It’s not enough that the kids barely get a weekend, trekking to school on Saturdays and Sundays for their incessant sports trainings. No; why allow the kids the luxury of being warm whilst learning. On that note, why not put two great big kerosene heaters in the staffroom and watch as the kids tear up over the fact that they are banished to icy classrooms. I’m not actually complaining because one of the aforementioned heaters is right next to me. I do, however, feel it’s mildly unfair that kids are forced to wear 10 layers just so they don’t perish at school. The teachers here can’t believe that there is heating in every room at schools in England. They also can’t believe that schools hire cleaners as opposed to them, who make their kids do it. Having chatted at length on the subject with some fellow JETs, we’ve noticed that the schools are never really clean, because they’re too tight to get proper cleaners to do it and the kids, being kids, just can’t be arsed. Anyway…I feel I’ve dwelt for too long on the matter.

The weekend just gone (although it’s not just gone, but whatever) heralded my visit to Osaka. A dirty, bustling metropolis, I loved it. I was vaguely upset by the fact that it seemed to unsettle me – this living in the sticks malarkey seems to be messing with me. On the Friday, Brooke and I shink’d it up (as in, we travelled on the Shinkansen bullet trains) to Osaka, chatting with some various Japanese people, testing out my new linguistic skills. When we arrived, we met up with Lucy and Kieran and made our way into town. Once there and checked in to our hotel, we wandered over to see Osaka Castle and then on to the aquarium. We took a look at the Whale Shark they have there, who we lovingly dubbed Derek. Having spent quite a few hours strolling around and taking in everything that was on offer in the, quite frankly, huge aquarium, we decided to make Kieran confront his fear of heights and we went on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, which afforded us great views of nighttime Osaka.

The next day saw the group split. Kieran and Lucy opted for the cultural sights of Kyoto. Brooke and I, the heathens we are, felt the need for some good old fashioned American-ness. We headed over to Universal Studios Japan, which resides in Western Osaka. Cue behemoth queues, Christmas carols playing until you want to shoot someone and good, unadulterated American crap. One of the best parts of the day was watching their (abridged) staging of ‘Wicked’, the musical about the witches of Oz before Dorothy. Part Japanese, part English, it was a fun addition to a great day. The worst part? Waiting in line for over 2 hours for one ride. That said, the ride was widely agreed to be the best in the park and so it wasn’t too much of an effort. The next day, we made our ways back to our separate domains, only to begin another week.

That week is now, thankfully, at an end. This weekend was going to contain a visit to Nagato, on the Northern coast of Yamaguchi. However, I’m not going to be able to make the train in time for the 5 hours journey! Because there’s a rather large mountain range that runs through that part of the Prefecture, travelling to the Northern bit is very difficult and convoluted. So it’ll be a quiet one, spent either exploring Kuga (there’s more to it than I originally gave it credit for!) or heading eastwards for Hiroshima.

Till next time!



1. dad - December 5, 2007

maybe a case of “no place like home” except that’s not this musical

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