2019 – Week 43

Japan part 2!

Monday was a trip to the Osamu Tezuka museum in Takarazuka, a suburb of Osaka (I think). It was an easy trip, and upon exiting the train station, we were accosted, in the nicest possible way, by an old lady who seemed to be dressed entirely in the same type of patterned fabric. She was very keen to know who we were and why we were there, and proceeded to tell us that she had been a singer, piano player, and (some stringed instrument, possibly Shamisen) player, for the Takarazuka Review – the old theatre that has been the standout cultural thing for the suburb.

Tezuka himself, used to work with them in his youth.

Anyway, we were given a guided tour all the way to the museum, which included an offer to buy us lunch, all the while with a running commentary, that had occasional English words, but was mostly Japanese.

We may have met someone incredibly famous, it’s hard to know.

The museum was interesting, though not a gallery of his work by any stretch – basically there was no original art on display. Instead, it’s an interactive museum to the man, his life story, and his work. It makes me appreciate how amazing the opportunity was to be involved with the touring exhibition in 2007, where we actually had the original pages of all his major works there to experience in person.

Tuesday, we travelled to Kyoto, arriving in the afternoon to check into out air b&b apartment (after a 20 minute wait at the station for an English language taxi), and then a walk amongst the narrow streets on the side of the river, which as night fell, has dozens of micro-bats flying over it. We ended up in a tiny little second-story bar, whose stairs were st steep, you had to duck your head and lean forward to avoid hitting the lintel. There I tried another fantastic Japanese whiskey, and we chatted to the general manager of a travel agency’s office in Guam – apparently a super-popular tourist destination fo the Japanese.

I tried to describe my love of how overgrown so much of Japan is, the fences covered in vines, weeds sprouting from pavements – it’s hard to describe without sounding like “ you don’t maintain things”, but it feels like there’s a deeper force at work – I get the feeling the Japanese would rather let a fence be overgrown, fall over, and then be replaced, to begin the process again, so that I the meantime, they have a beautiful, wild, overgrown fence. In Australia, we’d poison all the vines, to save a few bucks on maintenance or replacement of the fence.

Wednesday, we did the Philosophers’ Walk – a route along a canal in the hills at e edge of Kyoto city, including visiting an amazing temple, where everything was overgrown with moss. We had Korean for dinner that night, and called it an early one, both being footsore from the long day’s walk.

Thursday was supposed to be a quiet day, instead we ended up walking to the top of the Fushimi-Inari temple complex – so many stairs. Ended the day exhausted, and went out to try the great tradition of ordering McDonalds in a foreign country. The only Australian common burger was the Big Mac, which I’ve never eaten, however they were sold out. Sold out? Seriously? What’s there to sell out of?

We went to Mossburger instead – a Japanese fast food chain. Honestly, it was a lot worse than McDonalds.

Friday, a trip to Arashiyama bamboo grove, the one you’ve seen a zillion times on the internet. It’s a great example of expectation – a tranquil deserted place with majestic nature, and reality – wall to wall tourists snapping selfies.

Had dinner in a little Udon noodle place, before shooting some night photos.

Saturday was travel to Himeji, taking a Shinkansen from Kyoto station, to Himeji station, with a short walk to the hotel. First night we photographed the outside of the castle, and ate amazing burgers at a place called Johnson’s Burgers.

Sunday, the big event for Himeji Taiyo Park – a mad and wonderful gift from a philanthropist, who built a theme park with recreations of some of the world’s most wondrous cultural artefacts, for an assisted living and intellectually disabled care facility next door. After the full day, we spent a bit of time walking the streets of Himeji, stopping in at different food joints, and drinking beers.