When there were no electronics, what did we used to do for fun when it rained?

Osaka Travel Blog

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Random Observation/Comment #14: You come to Japan to be educated in the way of cute. Yes, Eric, they all look like May.
I was awoken by the bright sunlight shining through my opened blinds. Why does my apartment have to face the East? I didn’t know what time it was because my cell and laptop were both left at the research lab, and I can’t read analog time first thing in the morning. For a split second I was confused with the notion that I was supposed to be back at the apartment in NYC waking from another drunken night with the J’s. Oh right, that’s 6000 miles away and a month ago. Perhaps the thought lingered in my mind because the day before was rather uneventful. It’s not that I didn’t go anywhere; it’s the fact that there was nobody to go with and no one to talk to about random things. Yes, the monkeys were cute and the waterfall was gorgeous, but I mostly tried to start random conversations with strangers and wrote in my little notepad. I love you, notepad.
Pictures were mostly of nature, and the ones that I took of me with the patented myspace/facebook one-hander had my head take up most of the shot. I need to build an apparatus to help me take my own pictures (or maybe less depressing, someone to take a picture for me/with me/beside me). Of course, I stopped random people to have them help me when the weather was still pretty. It turned from sunshine to misty cloudy to pouring cats and dogs in about four minutes. I’d like to describe more of my wonderful hiking experience in Minoh, but I want to write and post in the order that things occurred, so I’ll try to stay on track with my fleeting thoughts of last night.
I found myself with not a worry in the world and hours to do anything and everything. My faithful blue pen and notepad weighed my decisions with me. I had no computer, no large sheets of scrap paper, no television, and the rain was unbearable for jogging – it was just me, myself, and I in a minimally furnished room. What did they used to do before technology? Normally I would just introduce myself to my neighbors, but today was not the day to be social – not after walking around for half the day. I was too exhausted with the rain, and I had already showered (I didn’t think it a good first impression to show up in PJs speaking broken Japanese). It also risks a forbidden hello if I happen to live next to a young, hot English-speaking Japanese college student. This scenario only lives in my dreams.
I paced in the little space I had. Normally I would be writing about my thoughts, but now they seemed to float in the air and then dissipate with my horrible long term memory. Scribbling a few of the key points into my notepad may help, but the well phrased explanations of my dilemma just drifted away. I needed a keyboard to channel my powers, and just let the flow of ideas out on one of those retractable leashes for puppies. But alas, I felt crippled without technology. No music to drown out the voices and not enough paper to doodle away the randomness. I’ve found all these methods for sifting my thoughts an actual hobby (although many would call me crazy for calling writing a hobby). I picture myself holding a vacuum cleaner tube that sucks up the little thoughts in the bubble above my head. Like a stream of magic, these words shrink to a point and follow through my body until they flow through my fingers and out onto the screen.
I’ve always found it odd to write in my free time because humanities classes were (in mine and many engineers’ perspectives) a burden. Each assignment became a new hump on my back that insisted I finish a few pages earlier in the week and actually read every word in the book. I always wound up waiting until the night-before for these essays, and I could never understand why the writer’s block that shadowed my thoughts about anything and everything related to the subject waited until the absolute last minute. Even psychology, a topic I often discuss in my personal entries, I couldn’t find the right way to put everything into words until Sunday at midnight.
Anyway, I kept myself occupied by finishing Shadow Puppets in an hour and rereading my thoughts in the little notepad. Each little phrase reminded me of that moment in my life. The walls shifted around me and people appeared; all of them sketched in with my brain as the artist. In many ways, these pictures were incomplete, but each action stood out in my mind. I’ve often wished to control my body in these situations, perhaps look around at the still-life I’ve painted and see the details I’ve missed, but unfortunately any sort of reality I try to reproduce is simply imaginary. The wonders of how I could just combine the beauties and make myself believe that these memories were true. If the wind didn’t rustle the leaves to produce a symphony with the running waterfall, it did now.
Many may call filling in these patches a delusion, but when have these memories been so important to keep 100% truthful? It’s not as if I completely imagine flying in space and chilling (get it? It’s cold up there) with some astronauts eating some dried ice cream. In fact, most of the delusions are believable and merely add to the excitement and “pi-zaz” of my explanations. Sometimes it’s not what you’ve literally seen, but what you’ve seen after your mind filters and stores the thoughts into their respective blocks – my filter just so happens to add some “desired noise.” It’s this insight that draws me closer to seeing more of what this world has to offer. Each experience helps me dive deeper into my own subconscious and discover new complexities in the vast unknown of my mind.
So what did I do with my free time after doing everything I possibly could? I enjoyed the peace and quiet. I reflected on a moment where the words of “responsibility” and “schedule” bear no meaning. For some, this may have led to six hours of fidgeting, but for me, it was a chance to defragment. My scan disk and monthly checkup to make sure all the wheels were still turning. It was a chance to rethink my values, reorganize my priorities, and relearn the lessons from my past mistakes. What is there to regret when that only speaks of the past? What is there to plan when you’ll never be able to control everything? I laid there staring at the ceiling and talking to myself. It was the breath of free time I needed before facing the next week of work. Pictures of the weekend and stories to be posted throughout the week – I still have to catch up with last weekend o.O
~See Lemons Live Simply

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Random Observation/Comment #16: I have too many coins in my right-side, small jeans pocket. They should remove the 1 yen like they should the penny. Please round down.
I’ve learned from the wise planning of the strands of rope that after every day of heavy drinking, there needs to be a rest day to recuperate and rejuvenate. This is a day where our livers and stomachs forgive us for all the unspeakable things we’ve done to it the night before. Usually this day is just a bum day for naps after every meal and a meal every three hours (yes this is basically non-stop sleeping and eating - awesome). I would have normally done this, but I felt compelled to use my time efficiently and visit more of Osaka while I still have time. I figured a day of pure nature and green stuff around me would bring me some solace and counteract what I deem “the Pure experience.”
Osaka castle is easiest accessed from the Osaka JR loop line stop, Osakajokoen. This will put you on the East side of this massive park and give you the chance to slowly trek across some bridges and over some moats to reach the concrete monster of a castle. Starting from the East side of the park, there were a surprising number of musicians playing full band sets about 50 feet apart. Their music was interesting (to say the least). I am very much into the rock and metal scene, but I didn’t really understand their lyrics. They all followed the same high pitch screeching that didn’t register in my brain as good music. Every now and again I would hear some English phrases thrown into their random noises and become even more confused. I’m not really sure how “lobster” comes into a song lyric. You can’t just throw lobster around – there is a time and place for that.
Their performances did not bring me to my toes, but many other fans seemed happy enough to be there. I wonder if it is a daily event, or if I accidently stumbled onto a well organized jam session. Even if the bands were playing music I liked, their close proximity lead to clashed melodies which formed more unbearable noise. The softer sounds of acoustic or single musicians would be drowned out by the 3 guitarists, bass, drummer, and screaming singer. All I really wanted was a nice breakdown to cure my hangover, but nothing pulled me left and right; nothing made me bob up and down or move my hands in a gang-sign flashing manner. My lips did not purse, nor did my hands hold orbs or make devil horns for the crowd. In short, due to the confusing lyrics and absent energetic crowd, it lacked the overall force that pulled me into a trance. It’s mostly the community that helps me get involved, but these head-bobbing amateurs did not convince me that they were having a good time. Instead, they looked around (much like I did) to make sure that they were doing the most socially acceptable moves. C’mon Japan; bring on the headbanging, crowdsurfing, and moshpits.
The well-deserved head shaking towards the J-pop and J-rock bands was interrupted by this jaw dropping “wow.” This was, of course, my own jaw dislocating because my eyes saw the beauty of the park and scenery before me. The reflection of the buildings and the high walls in each layer of the moat gave me an indescribable feeling of peacefulness. It was a view perfect for stepping back and unfocusing your eyes =). It has been etched in my mind including the concrete Osaka castle in the background.
Along the slow journey towards the center of the park, I asked at least three different people to help me take pictures. I was tempted to ask “Are you going to the castle? (Of course they were, where the hell else would they go?) Me too! Where are you from? Let’s walk and talk ::warm smile::” All the pretty girls that I tried this with acted as if they didn’t speak English, Chinese, Spanish, or broken Japanese. Really? I don’t look like a creepster, but I guess that’s a strange thing to do. Maybe I won’t count it as being shot down because we didn’t speak the same language. I want to see the guy that can pickup someone without being able to talk with them – maybe Jay Chou is the exception; he can just play the piano.
The walk took about 45 minutes, but that’s because I was really soaking up the atmosphere and taking copious amounts of pictures. I like bridges and the way they fit into the side shot across the water. They accent the reflections and make a beautiful sight.
After crossing the bridge, there are usually the high walls with steps for archers to overlook the moat (this was back in the day). You may be tempted to walk up these stairs and take pictures off the ledge, but the few ledges I tried were inhabited by very territorial crows. They really do gawk and make you feel unwelcomed. For those who think it’s a great spot for a date, a handholding, a hug, a kiss, a blowie, or a quickie, I implore you to reconsider. The crows would ruin the rhythm (and it’s all about rhythm).
Finally, when you walk across the few bridges and slowly see this tiny background piece become a massive concrete beast, the center touristy area awaits you. Although the top view from the castle is the main attraction, do not forget to walk along the perimeter of the ridges to see fantastic views of layers of moats and sharp cutoffs between nature and city. It’s as if the attacking urban forces tried to conquer the natural beauty of the castle, but failed like the waves repelling off the shores. Unfortunately, the waves somehow attacked from the center of the castle outwards, shown in the complete concrete castle-museum and small shops opened along the paths around the main attraction. (The waves-thing was a poorly thought-out metaphor.)
The ticket for the castle is 600 yen, which is a little steep, but I suggest taking pictures like it’s your job. I took so many pictures, that I even took pictures of the no-picture-taking signs. Yes, I am hardcore and I wanted to get my money’s worth of memories. The first thing I suggest doing is taking the stairs up to the roof of the castle. This is, of course, the American way following instant gratification. Since you already know that slowly working your way up will just make you disappointed and overly tired to enjoy the view, why don’t you just go up there first and then revisit if you really miss it after seeing the other boring stuff? And to tell you the truth, we Americans rarely see things twice. It’s checked-off our list, so we haul ass to the next tourist destination or suggested travel route.
I didn’t mean to sell the museum’s useful historical significance short, but some of the videos are a little annoying when they’re all in Japanese. There are a few blurbs about the dynasties that ruled during these times, but why would I read or learn on vacation (well actually I do, but who else wants to read?)? The roof is the best part, so spend the most time there in the cool breeze. You really can see far into the distance if the weather permits. Oh yeah, and don’t forget to try on the samurai suit on the second floor. That’s good for a laugh and a half. No, you look good - you look freakin’ scary, man (Boondock’s Saints reference).
After walking from the East, I naturally continued walking westward to see the rest of the park. This turned out to be a terrible idea. The other side of the park is filled with mythical creatures with immunities to elemental attacks. They do not go down easy, and it is not suggested for single-man parties. (If you don’t like the MMORPG reference, then maybe this is better.) The moving armies of trees resemble blurring lava of green and brown, devouring all enemies in its way to reach the wizard’s tower. (If you don’t like the LOTR reference, then maybe this is better.) The outskirts of the castle are guarded by the ghosts in black cloaks. If you feel their cold chill amongst your fellow wizard classmates, it is too late. (If you don’t like the H.P. reference, then maybe this is better.) Beyond the gates await an army of beasts protesting your ignorance and genocide of their furry friends. The cute little Spanish undercover mice will kick your ass. (If you don’t like the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian reference, then maybe this is better.) Because of terrorists, our imaginations have gone wild and destroyed the barrier between the friendly creatures and creatures imagined from violence and hatred. Among the feared are Man-bear-pig and the Christmas Critters, who have channeled their forces for a frontal assault. Walking away from the safety of the castle is a walk towards certain death. (If you don’t like the South Park reference, then maybe this is better.) Oh no! It’s Godzirra! Haha. I got nothing. I’ve exhausted my references to popular movies and TV shows displaying attacks on castles. You try and do better.
And thus, I digress from my initial opinion. I think I pass bad judgment because my back was to the beauty and I only faced this deathly road into thicker shrubbery, returning to the poison of urbanization. I did the only thing I could do at a time of epic farewells: I waved into the camera as it panned outward from a helicopter view. It was appropriate at the time. Perhaps we will meet again.
~See Lemons Absorb Some Nature

photo by: yasuyo