So... after a day of rain the day before, yesterday was ridiculously sunny. We spent the day in Osaka with two friends from the Iida workcamp 4 years ago. First we had Takoyaki (an Osakan specialty) for lunch. Then we went up to the Floating Garden Observatory in the Umeda Sky Building to get a panoramic view of Osaka. I even left a joke wish on the Tanabata
tree in the building. Then we went to the huge takashimaya bookstore to help my friend find some English books suitable for a beginner. Josh got riled up over an English learning book dealing with values.
We eventually slogged ourselves over to Osaka castle where Josh and I get into a mini-argument over whether castles exist in Canada. So here's a question to my loyal readers (all one or two of you), to what degree do things like Chateau Frontenac, Casa Loma, and/or Dundurn Castle qualify as castles? Josh contends that a castle must have been the center point of a feudal/economic zone to be truly called a castle. While I don't dispute that as a definition, I say that you can have a broader definition that would include Canadian structures. Bonus points if you don't look it up in a credible source (stephen colbert style).
We finally ended the day at a cool hole in the wall which was not quite as near Osaka station as we thought. But the food was good and we had beer for the first time in a while.
In other news, Josh finally found some hardcore artificial club soda. While soda water hasn't been difficult to find, they have largely been of the imported from the springs of Europe variety, which according to Josh is weak. Josh finally found Premium Soda from Suntory with its clearly artificial carbonation. Josh also found Kirin's Nuda but that one has more weird minerals in them. So if you're looking for Club Soda in Japan get Premium Soda from Suntory. As Bill Murray says in Lost in Translation, "for relaxing times, make it Suntory time."
Today, the sunny day of yesterday seems like a dream, and we find ourselves mired in another rainy day. The "problem" with Kyoto is that most of its attractions are outdoor. Neither Josh and i are hardcore enough to brave the weather to go check stuff out,and I feel we're missing out on many of the great things about Kyoto. Hopefully tomorrow will clear up to give us a good last day in Kyoto.
The flip side of all this time, partly due to the weather and partly from travelling with a low maintainance/lazy guy like Josh, is that I've had the chance to read. I've actually read through japanese books for the first time in (probably) years. The first book I read is 自己再生 (Jiko-Saisei) by 斉藤隆 (Saito Takashi). Saito is a 36 year old reliever for the LA Dodgers, who started in the minors and ended up the Dodgers' closer last year. The book outlines Saito's journey through his first year in America. I picked up the book because I actually regularly read Saito's blog and he seemed like decent guys, and more importantly he writes at a level which I can easily understand. In the same vein, I also read 長谷川滋利's (Hasegawa Shigetoshi's) 素晴らしき!メジャーリーガー人生 (Subarashiki! Mejyaaliigaa Jinsei) which is a collection of Hasegawa monthly columns for a Japanese magazine. Hasegawa was a reliver for the LA Angels and the Seattle Marners and played in the Majors for 9 years. I would recommend the former over the latter. But for a guy who hasn't read a Japanese book in a while, reading both was an accomplishment worth blogging about.
Finally I was able to upload some pictures so check them out!