June 18th, 2019


Osaka: June 18: Koreatown, shrines

"Let's go to Nara... nah, I spent too long on the computer, it's late."

"Let's go to a museum! ... oops, they're all closed on Tuesday."

"Let's go to Koreatown!" That worked.

Ate some store sandwiches in a shitty park near the station. Small park, small playground. Looked grungy, I guess partly the litter, even more so all the cigarette butts when I noticed them (no trash can, but there was a butt can clearly not used enough,), and the ground under the play equipment being part grass part dirt.

Found a Buddhist temple along a residential alley, one big enough to have two caretakers and at least two rooms. I looked inside but felt uncomfortable as they looked at me.

Found Koreatown, it has an official entrance. And right away I found a sizable Shinto temple, Mizukimori-tenjingu. Uhhh, Koreans aren't Shinto... actually the main entrance is outside Koreatown, but a side entrance opens to it. I ended up spending a fair bit of time and phone battery reading up on Shinto shrine structures, so I would have a better idea of what I was looking at and what the things were called. One thing is that they often contain auxiliary shrines, to related kami; this one had three different shrines/altars, or at least structures with bell ropes. I saw one woman ring and pray at each one. Plus a fourth little thing that looked altar-ish but didn't have a rope. The shrine also had trash cans. Look, when you carry your garbage for multiple blocks, you'll start noticing these things too.

I followed the "main street" of Koreatown to its end, though I later found there are lots of other Korean businesses (or businesses with Korean writing, anyway) in the area. Lots of places selling raw meat, or corn dogs(!), or kimchi, or things that looked like meat marinated in kimchi or some other red sauce. Wasn't hungry enough to buy anything then. Not a single conbini along multiple blocks.

Along the way I found a much nicer park, with trash can and water fountain (one faucet aiming straight up, which is how drinking fountains here work, one straight down for filling things.) Less litter, less scruffy (ironically perhaps because a big area was *just* dirt, so didn't have the "trying to grow grass but failing" thing), a lot more people hanging out. Tidy trees, maybe neater than the first park.

Looping back toward the train station, I found another Buddhist temple, Shukyo Hojin Minshuhotokekyo Kanon Temple. I was able to get much closer to the altar, which had a big bag of Pocky and a big can of pineapple, among other offerings. A priest had me light and plant an incense stick. Statues outside of Budai and Kannon.

Also I found that you can copy place names out of Google Maps on the phone (long press on the full page). So I never had to type "Shukyo Hojin Minshuhotokekyo Kanon Temple".

Google Maps on my phone also has a working compass. YAY.

Nearly stepped into a moving motorcycle, I need to pay more attention.

Some woman was biking on a somewhat busy street while looking at her phone.

Many bikes here have a symmetrical kickstand, one that goes over the back of the rear wheel so the bike stands upright.

Wandered through the Tsuruhashi arcades (arcade seems a better name for the 'covered shopping streets' like the one I first stayed on.) Found a Korean restaurant and had bibimbap for 800 yen (actually 860 after tax, I would like better indication of when sales tax is going to be applied -- in 2008 it seemed always included in the price, but a lot of conbini products now have two prices printed on them, before and after tax.) Turned out to be vegetarian (egg, no meat). The proprietor mashed up the bowl's contents for me ("this is Korean food!" -- Japanese generally don't mix food like that, I think.) She provided metal chopsticks with odd shape and weight, then standard disposable wooden ones when I seemed to be struggling. Was good. Lots of side dishes as seems common for Korean food. One looked like a tiny bit of cheesecake but was actually tofu with a red sauce on it.

Another store in the arcade was selling churros. I spelled out the katakana on the sign, went "really?", and looked inside. Yep, churros.

Then home.

Observation: despite warm temperatures, most women here wear more covering clothing than I'd be used to around hot weather Boston, say. Almost all have trousers or below-knee skirts. I've seen some above-knee skirts or even miniskirts, but they're a lot rarer. Something like tank top and shorts is very rare, and tends to come with indicators of foreignness: speaking fluent English to a white boyfriend, looking Chinese (not that I'd bet a lot on my judgement), looking Chinese in a group and I think talking in non-Japanese (I didn't get to hear much).

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