Saturday, May 12, 2012

Two Weeks in Osaka [ Japan II ]

We quickly settle in to life with Donaldo and Midori in Osaka.   Going about on bicycles, buses, and a variety of trains, the buses and trains always remarkably on time.  Watching American baseball games over breakfast, particularly if Yu Darvish is pitching.  Lots of laughter among the four of us.  Long hot tubs before bed.
Sometimes one or both of us will accompany Donaldo for part of an English conversation class.  Sometimes we wander about on our own in the neighborhood.   Once we all visit Kyoto together, and on another day we visit a special restaurant in Kyoto Prefecture but a good ways from the city itself.  When we travel on trains, Midori negotiates an astonishing array of subways and trains with astonishing precision.  (When we do so alone, we manage, but a lot more slowly and tentatively.) 
We feel good here.   The plethora of bicycles is nice.  The smaller cars.   The elaborate courtesy that often turns even the most mundane transaction into a graceful dance.  
It is wonderful too that every tiny extra bit of land gets turned into a garden, and where there's no land at least there's a window-box or pot or coffee can with colorful flowers growing in it. 
It's often cloudy and sometimes rains, which limits our outings and photography.

Of course, the sakura are a consistent theme.  We have lucked into arriving at exactly the point where the "sakura front" has reached central Japan, on its way from Okinawa to Hokkaido, and every time we go out they're irresistible -- and I take zillions more pictures of local folks enjoying them then I could ever actually have any use for.  We also learn a new phrase -- sakura shower -- to describe the result when vigorous wind meets delicate sakura blossom and sends tiny white petals floating toward you like snowflakes. 

While Midori and Dael snag groceries, I loiter by a stream, watching children and adults alike enjoy cherry blossoms -- on trees, in showers, and floating rapidly down the stream.

On another morning, Dael and I wander off on an errand and bit of exploration.  Beside a small vegetable garden amid shops and businesses, there's a forgotten-looking pond graced by an egret, a heron, and various other refugees, including a couple of black cormorants and some ducks.

The star of the show, for us, is the egret

Sometimes it happens that when Midori and Donald are out bicycling, he's the victim of racial profiling: without suspecting her of anything at all, the police stop Donald, surmising he's riding a stolen bicycle! Donald, accustomed to U.S. police, adopts a polite and submissive manner -- but Midori angrily demands to know why they've stopped him and not her too!

On the other hand, he does look pretty suspicious!

Naturally much of our delight in Osaka comes from Donaldo and Midori's warmth and hospitality.  Midori's mother and daughter are also very welcoming. 
Midori's daughter and mother
Dael shows the family images of NM

One evening we take the train in to downtown Osaka.  A friend of Midori's and Donald's, a jazz singer, is performing at a night club there, along with a quartet.

We enjoy jazz, and we enjoy this jazz group.  We hear a mixture of familiar tunes and some new ones, several written by the piano player, Kousuke Kanatani -- who is more animated than any pianist I've ever seen.  Yuka has a good voice.   It's a very enjoyable evening.


Going downtown also reminds us that the metropolitan area's population is comparable to New York City's.  One of its most famous views is as bright as Times Square.

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