March 7, 2014
I am composing this in the Osaka Airport. WiFi connections were scarce yesterday and the day before.
We rode with Reiko to Osaka on the Shinkansen and after a few transfers in the city, we were met by the charming Keiko Onoi. She is not only a good friend of Reiko but also a devout Christian. They represent just a few percentages of the Japanese population. She graciously allowed us to stay in her guest room on the 46th floor of the condominium where she lives. It was quite luxurious although I did not venture out on the balcony.
We spent the late afternoon exploring the rebuilt Osaka Castle. The original dates back at least 400 years and has been burned down a number of times. What doesn’t burn are the huge stones that make up the base and fortifications of the castle. These proved invulnerable to the US air corps which leveled most of Osaka. Its location as the headquarters of the 4th Division of the Japanese Army and its industrial and transportation importance assured its destruction during WWII. Needless to say, it has been rebuilt from the ground up. The exterior of,the castle looks historic. The insides and structure are hi tech. I felt very comfortable taking an elevator to the viewing platform.
Ms. Onoi then took us on a tour of the main shopping street. Kind of the the Osakan Rodeo Drive. All the youth were showing off the latest in fashion and the Japanese adaptions to International style. We walked through the larger than life displays outside the many restaurants. We were then treated to a real Osaka dinner served on a griddle in the bowels of an underground restaurant. Even the octopus was delicious. Ms. Onoi insisted on paying the bill and taking care of the fares on the numerous subway rides around town. She is amazingly generous. We hope to repay her kindness soon as she is a regular traveler to the US.
While in Osaka we received considerable information about Western Japanese that live in the west like Kyoto and Osaka. They consider themselves to be very different than the Eastern Japanese who live in Tokyo. They have very different accents according to Reiko. They also have their food preferences. People from Kyoto will not eat the fermented, fuzzy soybeans that the Tokyo people love with breakfast. I guess I am a westerner. The Kyoto people also consider themselves to be far more sophisticated than the Tokyo Rubes. After all Kyoto was the capital of Japan for a thousand years while Tokyo people a the nouveau rich. We enjoyed both regions.
We spent a comfortable night in our suite. We enjoyed the hot tub in our room even though I did not look out the window to the streets far below. Ms. Onoi took us to breakfast on the 51st floor of a nearby hotel. Again she took care of everything. Reiko helped us get to the airport bus and we made it through security. The Chinese figurines and electronic cables are of interest. The Japanese TSA are polite and friendly and thorough.