I`m back, baby!
well, i`m back in Nakatsu, after a year and a bit away. i`ll get to the details on my return later in this posting, but first a little about my morning.
i decided that, as i hadn`t really seen much of Osaka, i should see at least one of it`s major sights before i took to the Shinkansen. settling on Osakajo (Osaka Castle) since it was on the city loop line. not the best of reasons, i`ll grant you, but it was the best i could think of.
now, i should say right off the bat that, though the castle was bot beautiful and amasing, it was the events that happened AT the castle that made the outing interesting and fun.
the first happened as i was wandering towatd the entrance.
`Ex e cuse me, picture ok?`
turning around, i found a group of three young ladies, all of whom were carrying large cameras. after a little conversation (and a few mime sessions) it was established that they were rather struck by my outfit (`Kakuii!` as they said) and wanted to take my picture. since this is far from a common offurance for me, who was i to tell them no?
i flashed the peace sign and they clicked away merrily. once they had finished i took a picture of them in return (to their giggling delight), bade them goodbye and continued on to the castle gate, content in the knowledge that somewhere in japan there is a photo album containing a picture of a tall, hairy, bearded gaijin in a shirt, pants, sneakers, greatcoat and akubra ensemble, an outfit rightly described as `cool`.
nor did my adventures at Osakajo end there. i had barely entered the castle gates when i heard a merry japanese voice.
i turned around and saw (yes) a Friendly Old Man bustling toward me.
`Ah, hai, konnichiwa` i replied with a small bow.
His face lit up. apparently i had scored a point.
`Ah, you japanese good. You are American?`
`Iie, Austrariajin da.`
his grin grew even broader.
`Ah, austraria number one! canada number two!` he showed me a magazine he was holding. `Vancouver, yes? America number three. very low, ne?`
we shared a hearty laugh at this, then got down to business.
the Friendly Old Man, who i had begun to think of as `Oji-San`, revealed that he was a `Tokyo Boy` and decided to guide me around the castle built by another tokyo boy, Tokugawa Ieasu. the conversation was a little odd at times, due to our skills in each other`s language being rudimentary at best, but nonetheless hugely enjoyable. he showed me a well with dippers for washing the hands and drinkin the water (which we decided was excellent), a 160 tonne stone in the outer wall that was pulled into place with a rope made from hair, the best places to take pictures (`Here! good spot, best spot! here here!`) and the 5000 year time capsule.
he seemed particularly struck by my beard.
`You have good (gesture at face). Tokugawa Ieasu have (gesture indicating a long beard). Very good!`
`Arigatto. Ore no Otousan ga (gesture of a long beard and mustache)`
`Ah, your father! Australian samurai!`
we shared a hearty laugh.
the talking, picture taking and hearty laughs continued for a while, until the time came for me to head into the castle and for Oji-san to do whatever it was that he interrupted to show around a humble gaijin samurai like me.
we shook hands and parted as friends.
One shinkansen ride and a spell on an express train later, i was back in Nakatsu. to my delight, very little had changed. a few new buildings, some different businesses, but the important things are still there. The Tropicoco and Mr Charisma`s Ramen, basically.
after checking in at the hotel, i took camera in hand and set off for Mr. Charisma`s. the moment i came in, he recognised me. ushering me to a seat, we engaged in a little pigin anglo-japanese chat, and i faced my first bowl of real ramen in over a year.
Best. Ramen. EVER.
after my meal (which he didn`t let me pay for), he allowed me to take a picture of him and, with the aid of the timer on my camera that i finally figured out, a picture of the two of us. a truely heartwarming moment for me, it was.
i retired to my hotel room and drifted off to sleep, ready for the morrow.