I am workin' on my fitness, but Steve is banned from the club.
Osaka Travel Blog› entry 11 of 251 › view all entries
April 1st, 2008 – by: cmgervais
We learned that Do! (Fitness club) was running a promotion -- a one week/3 visit membership for about $20. So yesterday we went there to join up (although Steve was a little perplexed about why we would need to work out after about 6 hours of walking. Luckily for me he goes along with these things.)
We found the place, on Nagahori Avenue, pretty easily. The building smelled like smoke... hmmm, will people be smoking on the treadmills, I wonder? (they weren't). We were helped by a spry man in orange adidas gear, who stood almost as high as my shoulder. He apologized for giving us forms in Japanese, and translated each area for us. There was a particular area he had trouble with.
Many apologies and bows. We were embarrassed, our host was embarrassed -- it was so awkward because the message was, basically, You are not welcome here. But rules are rules.
This is one of the cultural disconnects you sometimes run into. How did it get like this? Why are tattoes so bad here, so accepted at home? Turns out tattooes are associated with the mafia and banned in public baths as well.
So anyway. That is how I came to work out alone this morning. Me with my pristine, unsullied skin.
The gym was on five floors, with a big pool, yoga and exercise rooms and a floor with machines and free weights. Shoes were prohibited in the locker room (!), which made me worried about ignorantly breaking some other rules as well. The decor was dated (circa early 80s), but the equipment was newer and well maintained. They had something I will call a "fat shaker." You stand on it and get vibrated... I have no idea what benefit that might deliver. It was good entertainment though, and it was constantly being used by women of a certain age. I had a good workout on the machines circuit and seemingly committed no blunders of etiquette.
OK, then it was back to being a tourist. In the afternoon, we jumped on the subway like pros (we have started to figure things out in that station, finally) and headed to Tenno-ji Park. There is a Japanese garden there, Keitakuen, that I wanted to see. This garden was lovely, but the Shakkei, or "borrowed scenery" concept was obsolete here, as the area was surrounded by 1970s architecture which ruined the view. The park area was also blighted by bad architecture and ugly handrails, and we didn't spend a whole lot of time there (see my video of the huge carp though!)
There was a bonsai exhibit that made Steve very, very happy. The little trees were beautiful, and the trip down was made worthwhile just to have seen them.
We exited the park and ended up in a seedy area with ragged people drinking sake, camped on the street, and at least one guy taking a little nap. It was much dirtier, and I wanted to get out of there pronto. We ducked into a temple area which ended up being Isshinji, and it was a beautiful respite.
In the evening, we were distracted by a Russian bar, where Steve had vodka and I had a beer. Apparently while I was working out, Steve was working on his Japanese skills! Working from a little cheat sheet and rendered less inhibited by the vodka I suspect, he was practically able to have a conversation! It was very impressive.
For dinner we went to Fugetsu, working on a tip from TB's hamakong (thank you, Yoko!). It was fantastic, and okonomiyaki is my new favorite food.
Tomorrow we will venture out of Osaka ... the plan is to go Kyoto for temples and more sakura (cherry blossoms). (Hey I didn't even have to look that one up ... maybe Steve isn't the only one picking up the language!)
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