Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Simple Things

Hello one and all,

If this is your first time reading my blog, then I wish you a very warm welcome. I hope these ramblings of a *Gaijin
*Foreigner or outsider
girl prove entertaining and possibly informative! The rest of you lovely lot - Konbanwa or Good Evening from a balmy Osaka.

I've had a pretty hectic week as we've been auditioning for second contracts at work. There really is nothing like an audition to bring out the true colours in oneself! Cue no sleep, zero food intake and the most wonderful feeling of euphoria once it's over. In all honesty though, the auditions were fine. I'm lucky enough to work for an incredibly kind company who always strive to look after its employees.

My recent adventures have been based locally. My lovely boyfriend, Vincent is coming out to Japan in about a week and I wanted to make sure that I knew where all the bare necessities were located. Necessities being where to purchase a good draft beer and health foods, of course. The Japanese are healthy by nature, lots of raw fish and veg in their diet, so health foods are a relatively new concept over here. However, if you know where to look, you can find a almond milk or two!

I adore food. Cooking it. Eating it. Smelling it. Watching it get made. Buying it. And I love nothing more than trying new ways to ensure it's good for me. Usually, this is much to the annoyance of the previously mentioned Vince. The exasperated look I'm often greeted with upon returning from Richmond with Foods Market bags is one of the things I miss most about him! That being said, when in what you can't do at home.
Some beautiful flowers I spotted on my quest for Quinoa

I had to venture out to Tanimachi 4-chome, which is only a few stops up the Chuo line from my local station - Osakako. Musubi Garden was certainly worth the trip. It had nearly everything I was after, courgettes, carob chips, coconut oil...I was very impressed. Though not so impressed with my lack of planning. Make sure you bring a rucksack to transport the food back home! Here is the link if you are in need of clean food whilst in Japan.

The following day I ventured out into Tempozan. This little island and much of the surrounding areas in Osaka bay were created to help house the over populated areas by the ports. That shouldn't deter you from visiting them though! They are extremely well connected and each has its own hidden gems. Tempozan boasts Japan's smallest mountain, (just 4.52 metres above sea level, Osakans are famous in Japan for their humour) and a large ferris wheel that forecasts the weather daily.

I went to the south end of the harbour to explore The Mermaid Plaza. Down here, by the dock is a diminutive statue of the titular character from Hans Christen Anderson's story. She was a gift from the Karlsburg Company of Denmark to the people of Tempozan. I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled upon her as although she is rather hidden away, there is something very lovely about her. It's almost as if seeing her is your reward for investigating the whole island.

The Little Mermaid statue - in case you want to cheat, she's behind the Aquarium.

To finish my day off, I discovered The Osaka Culturarium which was showing an exhibition entitled; The Art of Gundam. The exhibition focused on the creation and evolution of the popular televised anime series, Mobile Suit Gundam. The show has been around for 35 years and it was nice to see lots of adults and children connecting to it, in a similar way to the Star Wars franchise. I didn't understand much of the audio descriptions, however most of the exhibits had English translations. By the end, I really could see the appeal! The episodes are set to anthemic scores, the detail and colours in the art are visceral and the protagonists are all "regular people". Who wouldn't be hooked?
The Art of Gundam - Osaka Culturarium

I will absolutely be returning to the gallery in the future, however it is quite a pricey day out compared to the museums and galleries in London. Entrance fee is 2,000 yen. About £12 per person, but certainly worth it!

I hope to get back out and about over the next few weeks, the deer park in Nara is next in my to do list! Before I sign off, in lieu of my Japanese learning that would have proved useful in the Gundam exhibition here are my top 5 phrases/words to learn before coming to Japan:-

  1. Ohayo Gozaimasu This means "good morning" and you'll often hear it batted around between locals.
  2. Sumimasen Meaning "excuse me". Very useful if trying to get round someone in a crowded shop or if you accidentally barge someone in the street...note, this is the most formal way of apologising and should be used in conjunction with a low bow if you do not know the person or they are your superior.
  3. Nanji desu ka? An obvious one, "What time is it?" but it always makes you feel more at home if you don't have to point at that invisible watch on your hand in order to find out.
  4. Kudasai This means "please" and I think is a hugely important word to know in ANY language. Manners cost nada.
  5. Toire wa dokodesuka? Where. Is. The. Toliet. Four little words that can be the meaning of life and death.

Until next time, now blog off.

Lily x

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