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Osaka: -June 23

Friday I finally got to Shitennouji temple, which is huuuuuuge. The inner walls/arcade enclose an area like a football field. They were surrounded on all sides by market stalls -- yes, there was a flea market going on in the outer ward of the temple. Which also includes a cemetery, various subbuildings, and judging from a map later, I think a whole sub-complex I missed.

In the inner ward is a 5 story or so pagoda, that you can climb up to the top. Very tight spiral staircases (actually, two of them; I was proud of myself for realizing signs said to take one up and the other down.) There's a hall in the middle of the ward where the interior walls are covered in murals of the life of Buddha. Originally I would have said Indian-style art, but I'm more certain simply that the art depicted Indians. Then at the north end is another hall, where the murals show Chinese/Tibetans/Mongols in high mountains; I think I made out the words Bamiyan and Hindo Kush (which I would call Hindu Kush, but whatever.)

The market provided me some unexceptional peanuts and some excellent tangelos for cheap (500 yen for 13, I think that would be decent even by California prices, let alone Japanese supermarket ones.)

I wandered over to Shinsekai, had okonomiyaki at the English-friendly Usagiya, and found a flaw in the transit system. My feet hurt a lot by then, for the second day in a row, and I wanted to go home with a minimum of walking, but there weren't any great routes. I was right on top of a subway station and a streetcar line, but they didn't connect directly with anything useful, and I balked at a 3-leg trip. I ended up taking the subway to Tengachaya to explore another part of town, which wasn't too exciting, though I found a sort of walled residential area. Then headed home, and found that the JR Loop, going to the closest station by me, was running only every 15 minutes, so I had to wait 10 at the station.

There are buses too, but Google seemed to be showing 20-30 minute headways.

Some time before I'd found a Horai store, selling a few kinds of dumpling: gyoza, siu mai, pork bun (butanman). W had said they were meaty and dull, but W prefers Chinese potstickers to gyoza, so I figured I should make my own judgement. I like the gyoza, but the siu mai weren't so much meaty as gelatinous, would not buy again. I don't particularly like pork buns, especially steamed ones, at the best of times -- too doughy -- so didn't try.

At some point I switched from wearing my new hat to using my umbrella as a parasol. It's somewhat translucent but still helped keep the sun off my body. Hat just keeps my face from burning, head still gets sweaty.

After two days of achy feet I decided to stay in most of the weekend, studying Japanese or reading things. Made a shopping trip yesterday, armed with the names of things, including garlic and ginger; I thought I bought a jar each of minced stuff, but got home with two jars of ginger.

I was getting self-conscious about eating lots of white rice, non-calorie nutritional value zilch, or white bread, and was happy to read that soba is made from buckwheat, which isn't even a cereal, and has a more complete protein profile. So I got some of that, prepared and not. I see pork-vegetable-soba-ginger-sesame oil stirfries in my "cooking at home" future.

(And if you're in a restaurant facing the choice of udon vs. soba, "abused and maybe enriched wheat" vs. "whole seed buckwheat" might help you decide.)

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Damien Sullivan
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