大阪猫物語 (Tales of Osaka Cats)

I went to Osaka, hrrrrrrrrrrrr!

(No one says that. That’s just what comes to mind when I see this picture.)

This post covers Friday, 10/5.

Osaka is an odd place to me. One of the reasons I never looked into studying there even though it’s well-known city is that I read somewhere that it was a “concrete jungle,” and as you can see from my happily posted pictures of Waki, that’s not really what I was going for. Osaka has so little “green” that the last couple times I was here, I didn’t take many pictures at all (when normally I’d take too many).

What Osaka has that I like, though, is color. This is from my first visiting spot, Shinsekai (all subway stops in Osaka).

I actually chose to come to Shinsekai purely because of that fish below. I took a picture with it, too, but there’s so much going on in the background that it’s hard to see me (or anything) clearly.

That statue on the right there is a Billiken. You can find out more about that here.

This is my third time to Osaka now–the first time was with some friends in last November of 2010, when I had a bad cold, and the last time I was here was March 12, 2011, which as you probably know was the day after the earthquake. This time, I was on my way to Osaka International Youth Hostel for my first JET Christian Fellowship fall retreat. It’s interesting to me that this is my most-visited city in Japan so far–it’s not somewhere I would have picked as a place to go over and over again (just because of its city-ness), but there I was once again. This time, one of my friends from Irvine is teaching there, so there’s a possibility that I’ll be back again! It takes about 3 hours to get to Osaka from Waki–1 hour on the regular train from Waki–>Hiroshima, and 2 hours via Shinkansen from Hiroshima–>Osaka. Considering this was a retreat, I didn’t find this to be too bad at all, especially with all the advice and help I had from my coworker at the Board of Education!

My next stop was Tennoji, which consists of a temple and the general area around it. I considered skipping it in favor of spending more time at #3, but made my decision almost purely on the basis of a picture of a cat I found on the internet with a caption that said something about there being “lots of cats around Tennoji.” Decision made.

When I was walking down this long, winding road next to a park (I missed the sign saying the entrance had been to the left some ways back), I was about to give up and just go back to the station and go to stop #3, when suddenly I saw a cat and was like, “Yay, there’s a cat, maybe I’m close after all!” and was encouraged and kept walking^^ Not only that, but since I got lost walking (this is with my google gps, too^^;;;;) I accidentally made it just in time for the unofficial cat feeding!! Haha! And I didn’t even have to pay to go into the zoo! (Which is also nearby.)

I’ve heard some people don’t like cats because they give you weird stares and it makes them uncomfortable…well, FEAST YOUR EYES ON THIS! Heh heh heh…

From Tennoji, I went to stop #3, Tsuruhashi! Which is also known as Koreatown~! I was really looking forward to this because of the pictures I saw online. I don’t get a lot out of reading the place descriptions, so I googled the places that my coworker at the Board of Education suggested and made my decision based on the pictures! These are Korean traditional wear, called hanbok. Ehehe, reminds me of my fake marriage when I was taking Korean class at UCI…

This is the yakiniku street! (Maybe there was more than one–I wouldn’t be surprised.) I think the whole street is filled with Korean BBQ restaurants. I didn’t eat here (yakuniku by yourself=lame), but I liked walking up and down all the streets in this area and taking pictures!

There was a cat that was meowing and meowing behind a fence in an open place where there are benches for people to sit down and eat. S/he was really loud, and really couldn’t be ignored, so people who walked by (including me) would try to talk to it or make it happy, and then give up and keep walking. One lady stopped, knelt down and started to speak to it in Korean, and the cat came over (and out from the fence, so it’s not like it was trapped there) and was contented until she got up and left, and then it started meowing again. Haha, well, it has one friend…

I just found myself wondering…what do the cats find attractive about Osaka? Are the warm pavement stones nice to sleep on or something…? Do they like okonomiyaki…? I don’t know.

In downtown Namba (#4), near where the friend I’m staying with lives, there are a lot of traditional-looking buildings (at least the front of them), and also a temple toward the back. I actually saw businessmen coming and splashing water over the statue on the right (not pictured) like I’d read on the website. I walked down the path below but I didn’t see anything, so I just came back. I saw two cats before I left, though!^^ One was hanging out on the front mat of a shop, and the other one was sitting near the temple and it was hard to get a good picture of it because it kept closing its eyes.

I found a little road that went behind (I think) some restaurants. There was no one in there, but it was really cool! I love stuff like this ^w^

Namba (stop #4 for me) at night looks like this. It was really cool, and my friend and I agree that it doesn’t have the same creepy vibe that Shinjuku does at night (depending on where you go…but yeah). I think if you go you’ll know what I mean. There’s another one of those づぼらや fishes! I love them! <3 Even though I didn’t eat there…

I finished my sightseeing before it got dark and didn’t know what to do until my friend was done eating with the other teachers, so I went to a cafe in Namba Walk, then McDonald’s, then ended up at this Starbucks which was combined with a bookstore. The reason I didn’t just stay at one was that both the first cafe and McDonald’s allowed smoking and it was bothering me–at the McDonald’s, it was divided into smoking and non-smoking areas, but I sort of missed the sign and then discovered on the way out that I’d been sitting in the smoking section for an hour or so ><

I’ve decided that my previous quest to find a cafe where I could just sit down and chill was not unreasonable, but misplaced. During my trip to Osaka, I got to go to Starbucks and Doutor and places that have that sort of atmosphere, but unless I go to Hiroshima I might not find that. I think that, unlike in the US where sit-and-read Starbucks are pretty much everywhere, Japan only has those kinds of places where they’re truly needed–like in large train stations or in large public areas, where you’re more likely to need to sit and wait for people. I’m willing to admit that, but that’s not going to stop me from visiting cafes in my area. It takes an hour every time I go to Hiroshima, and I doubt I’m going to go that far just to visit a cafe, unless it’s something really special.

That churro had so much sugar on it! I was tired by then and on my third cafe, though, so I wonder if I really tasted it…ahaha. Oh, well. All in all, this weekend tasted really good! I made it sound like all I did this weekend was think about cats, but that’s not really true…not entirely. Heh.

Song of the Day: Audio Adrenaline, “Get Down”

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