Saturday, August 22, 2009

Deep Osaka

(With apologies to Mikey L.)

During most of this year, I taught a lesson or two a week in Osaka. I'd always disliked that city, turned off by it's ugliness. Yet she finally won me with charm. My students were always open and fun, quick with jokes. After work, I'd usually walk the city's narrow alleys and streets, sometimes its rivers or parks. Most people noted my foreignness, which Kyoto-ites are always too cool to acknowledge. Many times I walked the length of Ogimachi's long arcade, finding more the interesting things down its narrow side alleys. Tsuruhashi was the real gem, the Korea town below the JR station was different world. It has a feel somewhat like parts of Kowloon, and the same sense of an almost subterranean society with laws of its own. This is most definitely not Japan. Amongst its traditional clothing shops and markets I found a chijimi shop that I particularly liked. The three aunties I found there were always happy to take my money and give me grief. Their teasing was refreshing.

Other parts had their own sights and charms. A girl in very high heels trots against the light across the crosswalk, to have a bus nearly sweep her away. Annual hay fever played out in sniffles and sneezes. A half dozen city workers evict a homeless man in the winter rain. The springtime pink surrounding Osaka castle. A sign written with "Amusement Developer" raises a smile. Other signs: "Climax Campaign," "Cook Dolphin." A happy slacker on a train, grinning his toothless smile at everyone. A bicyclist singing to his ipod startling the hell out of a straight-laced salaryman pedestrian. And my favorite, the zig zig girl.

I noticed her coming down the subway steps, moving diagonally from the upper right corner to the lower left. From there she moved diagonally again to the opposite wall, and again, and again, until she was through the wickets and gone. I actually stopped and watched awhile, trying to make sense of her behavior. I wonder too: how does she feel about the linear movement of trains?

On the turntable: Cornelius, "69/96"

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