Japan: Adopted in Osaka

30 November 2014

Rina’s lovely parents ( their love story is very sweet) adopted me for a night. It was my first ever home-stay with a local Japanese family. For Rina’s parents, it was also the very first time that they came in contact with a foreigner. Rina, is not your typical Japanese girl. Extremely kawaii yet fiercely independent, she speaks perfect English and loves travelling.

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There is a special room at Rina’s place that is dedicated to the family shrine. I was told that I’ll spend the night in this beautiful room with a Kimono and guqin watching over me. Located 40 minutes away from downtown Osaka, Rina’s apartment is in a quiet neighbourhood. The veranda offered a panoramic view of Osaka’s skyline . After the wonderful breakfast, I bide farewell to Rina’s lovely parents and headed into Osaka CBD.

On the bus, I thought about the long chat that I had with Rina at the local graveyard that lies ten minutes away form her apartment. Life is short, we get one shot and in order to live it to the fullest, we must travel and initiate contacts. I would never had the chance to call Rina friend if I didn’t stop for a chat at Queenstown. There was a moment where both of us stood in silence.

“Beautiful isn’t it?” asked Rina. “We must enjoy and hold onto this moments since I don’t know when we can have this again. By the way, you are invited to my wedding…so we will see each other again.”

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Osaka with over 19 million inhabitants is a densely populated city in Kansai region. It has always been a merchant city and served as the centre for rice trade during the Edo period. It is known as Japan’s kitchen.

I spent the majority of the day at Osaka Castle.Built on raised platforms of landfill supported by rock walls, it overlooks a moat and the castle grounds which contains many gates, turrets, wells and walls. Due to different wars, it has been destroyed and restored a number of times to its present-day look.

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I couldn’t turn down family requests so I had to put up with the crowds and the boredom that comes with shopping.  It was funny to see bus loads of Mainland Chinese, Taiwanese and other Asians grabbing everything from toilet papers to toilet seats to clothes to make-up to chocolates….. Seriously, what is going on?

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Random Observations

  • Very clean (not many rubbish bins are available), extremely well-mannered, orderly, excellent services and people actually adhere to rules. No one fights for a seat, the elderlies are always offered a seat and it is rare to see a fight in public.People have more than just common sense.
  • Whether it is bus drivers, metro staff or bank clerks, everyone is in their uniform with clearly marked name-tags. Bus drivers who change shifts bow to the passengers. Very polite! People will try their best to help you.
  • Sex industry is well developed in Japan. Osaka station is surrounded by love hotels and hot girl services.
  • Homelessness is most evident in Osaka since the city was one of the hardest hit by the early 1990’s economic bubble burst. It is home to 10,000 homeless people. They live in an orderly fashion.
  • 7/Eleven is more than a convenient store – it’s also a bank.
  • If you want to exchange money at the bank, your notes must be clean.
  • Your name is called out three times before they go to the next person.
  • School children have bags for everything- books, computer, lunch boxes etc
  • No talking on trains or buses. No one makes a call and everyone is sitting in silence- reading, writing or dozing off.
  • 8% tax and the average monthly wage in Japan is around 11,924 rmb.
  • The metro seats differ in colour- Kyoto seats are green while Osaka one are red. Traditional music is played to signify an approaching train/metro. There are carriages for only women.SONY DSC

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