A Travellerspoint blog

Uehommachi Summer Festival

sunny 29 °C

Osaka was in the full swing of summer. Dispite the wisping clouds creeping across the sky, the heat clung to grey buildings around us. 29C and humid.

It was time to venture to a summer festival. To leave the comfort of our air-con and witness the local wildlife in their natural environment. Baby J and I headed out to find something to drink.

The vending machines called to us. Beer, beer, beer.
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Fortunately, my tastebud dislike the amber gold so we were forced to walk past past Juso station to a Lawsons to buy a Chuhi.

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Crossing

We wander for the next 4 hours, stopping at every convienience store along the way. After 3 Chuhi were had discussed the best way to cook fish, the texture of Natto, how to solve the Middle East crisis in five easy steps, the superiority of Coke over Pepsi and why aliens would never land on earth.

By the 5th Chihi we were in desperate need of a pitstop. We were stuck between Yodobashi and Hommachi, a business district with no where to go. I knew of some department store just past Hommachi but could we make it?

Our walk became brisk and awkard. Our conversation stiffled as we desperately tried not to think about waterfalls and fountains. The weekday was over and suits began to flood the steets. Somehow these people knew our desperate plight and deliberately began jumping in front of us.

A few blocks further and we began to jog, our knees glued together and we shuffled along at unnatural speeds using only our lower legs. The Chuhi needed an out and we were still 2 blocks away.

Somehow we made it to the department store and pushed our way down to the basement level, leaving only a trail of smoke as we beelined for the bathroom. *sigh* Release.

Suitably refreshed, we restocked our hands and wandered the final Km to Namba station.

We arrived at Uehommachi station and followed the crowd to the Summer festival.

The festival was in full swing. Roasted corn filled the air. Crowds rocked back and forth while children darted around carrying colourful ice cones.

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Summer festival

A large stone Tori gate marked the beginning of the shrine and as we wandered up the stairs, we could finally see the large Taiko drums that had been thumping for the last hour.

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Tori Gate

Upon the wooden float crowded 8 players and their repetitive heatbeat beat reverberated in the crowd. The float was twisted and turned and drawn back and forth to the delight of the crowd.

Eventually, it was moved to a store, illuminated by the lanterns and the strobe of cameras and mobile phone flashes.

The beat continued.

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Drumming

The float was rocked and tip. The beat continued.

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Drumming

Sideways. Twisted. Vertically. Turned. The beat continued.

Behind us, a parade of flute players, dancers and dragons cicled in the corner.

A wall of lanterns decorated the far corner.
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Back amounst the stalls, a shooting gallery provided a melody to the distance drumming. The guns making high pops as people shot at lighters, tabaco and stuffed toys. A cheer rung out whenever something was hit, followed by a sigh when the item failed to fall of its tiny perch.

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Shooting gallery

We found a fireworks stand and after loading ourself us we giggled our way off to the park.

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Fireworks stall

We sat there for over an hour, lighting fireworks, watching the festival crowd wander snake through the stalls in tradition dress, drunken business man getting overly excited in conversation, children darting around slides and covering their ears after each colourful explotion.


And all the while, in the distance, the beat continued ...

Posted by ImpBob36 22:19 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Akame Falls

Escaping in Japan

26 °C

The air is hot in my lungs
Haze drifts through the sky like a lost brown cloud
A train empties and a faceless crowd marches forward, forming puddles at the street corner
Lights turn red. A green man appears.
The puddle oozes forth
Its time to escape the city,
To taste clean air and fill my lungs with the scent of green.

We march forth between the suits
Rocking back and forth with the rhythm of the tracks
The city scape still fills the windows after an hour

The mountains approach
Darkness
Light
Trees appear, Osaka is now another world.
Villages, rice fields, fresh air escapes into the carrige between the cracks.
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Rice Field lines

A round of deep breaths. A round of smiles.

3 hours from point A and we stand in a small village
A gravel square, a lonely bus.
We board at the back and take a ticket. Zone 1.

Zone 3 approaches after 15 mintues.
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Akame Village

48 Waterfalls over a 8 KM walk
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A Salamander exhibit guards the beginning of Falls walk
20 glass cages hide 20 different species

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Salamander 1

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Salamander 2

Rocky walls grow around us as we decend further into the gorge
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Water falls appear
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We stop. Remove our shoes and dangle our feet in the icy water.
A nearby pool of tadpoles
Like children we spend 20 minutes scooping them up
Slimy bodies wriggling in wet hands

We continue ...
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Further and further, crossing the river, rock hopping

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Back in the village, a final lungful before returning to the city
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Rice Field Sunset

Posted by ImpBob36 21:32 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

Golden Week (part 2)

Arashiyama

sunny 22 °C

We stepped off the train somewhere in Kyoto's surrounding neighbourhoods.
Wandering through the winding streets, the mountain range got closer and closer until we were staring up at its lush and leafy coat. A quick stop into Family Mart and we were armed with lemon Chu-hi (an alcoholic Solo) and ice cream.

The days focus was Monkey Park, an area where wild Japan monkeys roamed freely around the hills, scratching themselves, staring at people and occasionally stealing shiney and usually expensive cameras. We weaved up the steep pathway, panting from the hot dry air and lighthead from the drinks.

A soft sounds above us prompted a quick stop perched in the tree bearly a meter away was a Monkey.

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Monkey and the Tree

The futher we continued, the more of our animal cousins we saw. A small plateu off to the side offered the opportunity to see family interactions. Babies being nurtured, siblings frollicking, partners grooming.

Baby J wandered towards a smaller female for a special Kodak moment. I hear a branch break and saw a male charge towards him. He turned towards the sound and as he made eye contact with the monkey, his face drained and he stumbled backwards. Somehow, somewhere I managed to offer a "look out" through the fits of laughter. I could feel the tears running down my face and despite having my video phone on him at the time, the footage quickly turned Blair Witch as I cluchted at my sides through the glee.

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Confused Monkey

The view was spectaular and refreshing ...

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View from Arashiyama

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View from Arashiyama 2

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Monkey and the Mountain

Mental Note: Ensure Mobile Phone isnt set to Macro when trying to take pictures

Posted by ImpBob36 02:36 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Surreal in Japan

sunny 26 °C

Reality started to fade at 1am.

I had just watched "The Jacket", a story of time and circumstance along the lines of Donnie Darko and Twelve Monkies. My brain tumbled with possibilities of time echoes, past and future, colliding with now.

The house was empty. Both my flatmates and their partners disappeared into the dense concrete jungle of Tokyo for the weekend. I was alone for the first time in months.

I had a coffee, its 3am, best rest my head.

I set my alarm for 8:45.

I was floating down a river, leading towards the ocean and beyond when an alarm dragged me back to consciousness. The tired routine of shower/shave/suit danced before me and after a quick coffee and bowl of cornflakes, I ventured out.

Off to Juso station, I pocketed 2 packets of tissue and a 10% discount of facials along the way. I met 1/2 the gang at east gate and we headed off for class. This time I was on the otherside. The community centre had free lessons and I would spend the next 1 1/2 counting people, pencils and chairs in Japanese. The teacher had become the student.

Posted by ImpBob36 02:16 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

Golden week has come and gone.

Long live Golden Week.

sunny 25 °C

Somewhere across the line of April and May lies Golden Week. A period of 3 National holidays within the space of 7 days. With the addition of the weekend, the majority of the week is now rest days and most business and people simply take a much needed vaction. It is a period of travelling abroad or returning to your home town. A time for relaxing. Of quiet contemplation or social catchup.

I was still playing catchup with my pay. Monthly deposits are a challenge to manage but when the last packet included mostly training rate (50% less then standard rate), I was acting catious. I was, however, talked into 2 trips.

Kobe. A port city. A miracle city. Last time I visited Kobe was almost 10 years ago. In the early '90s, Kobe bore the brunt of a devastating earthquake which flatten most of its countryside. I remember staring at its scarred landscape, and seeing the beginnings of life slowly creeping and stretching back up towards the sky. This time I found a bustling harbour town full of life, growth and energy. We arrived at Sannomiya, a central station and wandered towards the mountain. A distant memory told me the Ropeway car to the top was at the side of the JR station. For 550yen, we took the one way trip. The car rocked nervously in the wind, this was never meant for 4 forigners with their McBellies. The view over the city was refreshing and expansive. After a short peek into the 'perfume museum', the gang oogled a strange hairy insect for 25 minutes, pocking and proding it with the amusement of a young child. Our 1 way fair had been chosen to encourage us to walk down the mountain side, and eventually we found the narrow path off into the wilderness. We stumbled down the track for the next hour and 1/2, stopping many times to either jump out from behind trees to scare one another, or wander back and forth in a desperate bid to find the track again. We eventually emerged at the bottom, hot sweaty and covered in twigs, leaves and undergrowth. After hiking, we headed for food and eventually found a nice turkish resturant in downtown Kobe.

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Part II coming soon ...

Posted by ImpBob36 20:23 Archived in Japan Comments (2)

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