Monday, April 19, 2010

気紛れで On a Whim

Recently I've been biking around Osaka and checking it out. I've been finding some interesting little shops, restaurants and cafes really close to my house that I never even noticed. A couple days ago I found Maryland Cafe. Having grown up in Maryland for 12+ years I had to go to this place.

So one day I set out to go to this cafe. I left my apartment on my bike and got there in about 5 mins or so. Once I got there I thought, you know what I'm not that hungry I'll keep exploring. So I kept going.

I kept going for a while and I saw more of Osaka. I stayed on the same road that Maryland Cafe was on. The road is called Sennichimae. It runs from the bay near in/near Osaka all the way to Nara (the prefecture to the east) probably like 50km or so. Anyways on a whim I kept heading west on my bike.

The farther I got away from home the farther I wanted to go. Eventually I noticed a mountain range outline. Once I saw that mountain I set my goal.

I kept biking on that same road, which when I started was quite big, but now had gotten really narrow in a small town, until I reached the base of the mountain. Once I got there I parked my bike and started hiking up the mountain.

Along the way I met an old man, we didn't talk but it made the walk up the mountain feel different. It was a little cloudy but other than that the weather was nice. At certain points I could see the city of Osaka through the trees, it was awesome. When I got to the peak it felt great. Felt like I had accomplished something when really I just came here on a total whim.

On the way down I picked up a small stone as a keepsake. When I got home I realized I biked over 50km and hiked probably at least 2km up the mountain. The mountain is called Mount Ikoma and is on the boarder of Osaka and Nara prefectures.









Sunday, April 11, 2010

懐かしいなぁ、佐野市 My Nostalgic Return to Sano

最近栃木県の佐野市にいる親友達に会いに行きました。大阪に引っ越してから8ヶ月が経ち、その間栃木の友達とは会えずにいました。ちょっと久しぶりの再会になってしました。栃木の友達の中の一人のアメリカ人がアメリカから佐野を訪ねまして、僕も同時に佐野を訪ねたらいいタイミングだと思いましたいくら大阪を好きに なっても、佐野の友達と会えないのは寂しいです。ちょっと面白いと思わない?大都会に住んでる人が休暇を取ると、たいてい田舎に行くでしょう、で田舎に住 んでる人は逆に大都会に行くと思います。逆の現象が起こるんですよね。

Recently I took a trip to Tochigi Prefecture to see my friends living in Sano (a city I lived in for 1 year). It had been 8 months since I moved to Osaka and I hadn't been back to Sano once. One of my friends from Sano had gone back to America when I moved to Osaka, but she was coming back to visit. I figured it'd be a good idea if I visited Sano at the same time as her. It'd feel like a reunion! Even though I've come to like Osaka, I feel like Sano is my hometown in Japan. It's kind of funny, if you live in a big city you go to the country to relax and have a good time, but if you live in the country you wanna go to the city. So basically what you don't have you want.

大阪から東京まで夜行バスで行きました新宿から佐野のプレミアム・アウトレットまでまた別のバスに乗りました。佐野に着くと、友達が迎えてくれま した。栃木の友達として言っているけど、実際に彼女が住んでいるところは群馬です。栃木の友達と遊ぶときによくいるこなので、栃木の友達と呼んでいます。 会った時凄く嬉しかった。僕が佐野を去った時この友達が泣いてしまいました。運転するながら佐野の友達の輪についてなにがあったのかを話してくれました。今の 佐野の状況を理解しました。

I took an overnight bus from Osaka to a place called Shinjuku in Tokyo, then I took another bus from there to Sano. My friend Satomi (who techically lives in another prefecture but I still consider her part of my Tochigi friends) picked me up. When I saw her again I felt pretty happy. She actually cried when I moved from Sano. While we were driving she was telling me what had changed in Sano since I'd left. I told her a bit about my life in Osaka too. The picture is from Shoya a place we all went every Wednesday when I lived there.  

土曜日には宇都宮大学のチームとフリスビーをすることが出来ました。めっちゃ楽しかったですが、大阪のフリスビーチームとは全然違います。大学の チームは大体ペースも速いし、もっと真面目だから楽のチームとは違います。

On Saturday I went and played frisbee with Utsunomiya University. It was super fun, but super exausting. The team I play with in Osaka isn't very serious so we don't run really hard. The feeling of the two teams is completely different. University teams tend to be more serious so it was a real work out for me. I've gotten slow and I feel like an old guy even though I've only been out of University for 2 years!

その夜友達のお母さんの居酒屋に行きました。20人位の友達が集まった。また話せたり会えたことのはよかったです。朝までカラオケを歌ったり話し たりしました。翌朝、早く起きて神奈川県の川崎市に「祭り」を見に行きました。

That night I went to my friend's (the one who picked me up at the station) mom's Izakaya *(bar). About 20 of my friends were there. I was glad to be able to talk to everyone again, and see them in a group together. We sang karaoke, drank, and talked all night. The next morning we woke up early to go to "festival" in a town inbetween Tokyo and Yokohama called Kawasaki.  

その祭りは実際に「金まら祭り」というんです。この祭り知っていますか?この祭りについて何と言えばいいですか?ふらふらいい異文化体験でした、笑。とても独特で、面白くて、多分そんな祭りを経験するこ とができるのは日本だけです。異様な祭りなので外人が多かったです。

That festival is called the Kanamara Matsuri. Ever heard of this "festival"? What can I say about it? It was an interesting experience haha. Probably something one can only experience in Japan. Because is so bizarre a large foreign population attends.   The Kanamara Matsuri (Festival of the Steel Phallus, かなまら祭り?) is an annual Shinto fertility festival held in Kawasaki, Japan in spring. The exact dates vary: the main festivities fall on the first Sunday in April. The penis forms the central theme of the event that is reflected everywhere—in illustrations, candy, carved vegetables, decorations, and a mikoshi parade.

The Kanamara Matsuri is centered around a local penis-venerating shrine once popular among prostitutes who wished to pray for protection against sexually transmitted diseases. It is said that there are divine protections also in business prosperity and the clan's prosperity, easy delivery, marriage, and married couple harmony. There is also a legend of a sharp-toothed demon that hid inside the vagina of a young girl and castrated two young men on their wedding nights (vagina dentata). As a result, the young girl sought help with a blacksmith, who fashioned an iron phallus to break the demon's teeth, leading to the enshrinement of the item.

Today, the festival has become somewhat of a tourist attraction and is used to raise money for HIV research.

Here's a pic of the "big float" haha