Osaka, Osaka, Osaka

Dear Virtual Diary,

“I’ll do it in Osaka or maybe Yokohama or even Okayama/I just want some f’in peace”

Writing this entry, a bit late, but better late than never as they say. Osaka was as it always is and will always be a complete bundle of surging energy that powers sleepless nights.
I finally got to show Dane one of the main reasons I fell in love with Japan. Flying into the Kanto region (Tokyo Area) is where I got my first taste of Japanese life and culture. Arriving in the Kansai region (Osaka Area) the little understanding I had of Japanese culture, at that time, was shattered.

Osaka, in my opinion, IS the artistic core of Japan. Tokyo may be where all the business goes down, but the underground is alive, well and pulsating in Osaka.

The countless artisans, counter culture and overall talented folks I have met proves to me that Osaka is indeed a special place, in this wide spread world. In Osaka it seems like there are the most interesting people there, and most are willing to share a beer as well as their story with you.

Dane and I stayed in the Dōbutsuen-mae area, which is probably the dirtiest place in all of Japan, but also the cheapest option for staying in Osaka. It is also the only place in Japan, I have been, that homeless people stand out so tremendously.

I was able to show Dane spots in Osaka I stayed and visited on my first trip. The bright neon lights of Dontonbori, the American cultured out Amerikamura, the stoic seriousness of salarymen and women of Yodabashi as well as great eats in Nippombashi. This resulted in getting little to no sleep and having to sleep on the Shinkansen back home…At least I think that is what my place has turned into.

Slowly over the last few years I have noticed an increase in foreigners working in the Osaka. Returning to Dōbutsuen-mae this year, I wasn’t even handled by a Japanese person at my hostel, which is a pretty rare occasion. The people were Korean, still Asian but it was still pretty surprising to see. After all I think Japan is about 99% Japanese or something like that.

We were able to catch a few shows in Osaka as well. My friends, from my show in December (My event in Nippombashi), were at an event and I was able meet up and introduce them to Dane. And we had an amazing time drinking and listening to reggae and hip hop. The jam was full of all Japanese reggae artists. I have to admit that anytime I see Japanese people perform reggae, more often than not I am impressed. Most of them seem to not only have a good grasp on the cadence and nuance, but also really captures the spirt of the musical genre. This is also one of the reasons I feel like Osaka’s cup is brimming over with the liquor of artistry.

First New Year’s in Japan

Dear Virtual Diary,

My first New Years in Japan was enlightening and very enjoyable.

My New Year’s included five major events:

My brother’s arrival to Japan. He arrived on December 29th and we reunited on December 30th. It is nice to have a family around.

新年会 (New Year’s Japanese Party/BBQ):

The cover photo was the back drop for our BBQ as we sat, ate, drank and conversed about everything and anything. The beef was rich and the beers were cold. We all then pass out on the floor watching the New Year’s boxing match.

初日の出 (First Sun Rise):

Hiked up Hiyama mountain and watched the first sun rise of 2017 and I now have the urge to watch all future first sun rises of the year where ever I am. I watched the sun rise above the clouds while my mind focused on nothing but the sun. No thoughts of the future, no thoughts of those around me, all focus on the fiery golden sun.

桂浜温泉 (Onsen bath house):

After the hike up Hiyama, I received a ticket for free entry at Katsuragahama’s onsen. It was my first time in the onsen during winter and it felt great.  Going to the bath house is probably one of the best ways I relax in japan.

神社に行った (Shrine Visit):

This wasn’t my first time to a shrine, in Japan, but it was my first time to a shrine during New Years. I sat on a chair in the main room of the shrine and in front of me were fresh vegetables and large bottles of Japanese sake. My understanding is that these vegetables and sake are offerings to Kami-sama (God).