Seven hours in Osaka: Blowfish, Bicycles, and Bizarre Sporting Celebrations
|Eating Shabu-Shabu in Osaka|
A stove promptly arrived at the table and an overpowering waft of gas drifted through my olfactory system before the kimono-attired waitress lit it. I am not unaccustomed to the convention of do-it-yourself restaurant cooking in Eastern Asia, however, this was an unfamiliar dish and I was not exactly sure in what order to cook the various ingredients. I asked for assistance and the waitress kindly began cooking the food for me.
|The Dotombori River|
After dinner I began strolling around the Osaka shopping boulevards and I stumbled across the Dotombori River. A local expatriate told me that the river is inextricably connected to the local baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers. To celebrate the major victories of the Tigers, locals throw themselves en masse from the bridges into the ten-foot deep murky waters below. Despite health warnings from medical experts advising against these activities, during the 2002 Soccer World Cup when Japan defeated Tunisia 2-0 in Osaka, some 2,000 people dived into the Dotombori River. However, as I looked down, the river looked to me very much like a British canal; not a place you would want to dip your toes in. Beer cans and plastic bags cruised down the river to advertise its inhospitable disposition. Perhaps the numerous empty beer cans are what prompted some of the diving in the first place.
Walking back to the train station through the streets of Osaka, I could not help but note the sheer number of cyclists in the city. There were literally hundreds both parked and on the move, dodging in and out of the way of pedestrians who seemed, unlike myself, quite disinterested by the phenomenon. I, however, felt like I was walking down the middle of a particularly busy road and so I tried to stick as closely as possible to the nearest wall for cover.
|Bicycle Lined Streets in Osaka|
The author is currently teaching English in Seoul, South Korea, whilst also seeking freelance writing opportunities. Contact the author at jjrgaskell at hotmail dot com.