Osaka is about 300 miles south of Tokyo on the island of Honshu, Japan’s main island. Its name means “large hill” and dates back to the year 1496. The west side of Osaka is open to Osaka Bay, and the city has many bridges, rivers, and canals that empty into the bay. In fact, by 1925, Osaka had 1,629 bridges! Many of the city’s canals have gradually been filled in, so today there are “only” 872 bridges.
We haven’t yet gone to any major tourist spots or attractions, as we just arrived yesterday afternoon, but we took a walk around the neighborhood today and stopped in a few stores, finding photo opportunities galore. The first is just an archway near some office buildings, but we liked the ribbons dancing in the morning breeze. The next two photos are of a walkway/wall just across from the ribbons, covered in vines and flowers. We thought it very unusual, especially with its peepholes to what lies beyond.
After those photos are some street art and what looks like an entrance gate to a shrine. It was all in Japanese, so we weren’t sure if this was a private home or an institution, but it sure was pretty. Next came the yellow-hatted children, looking like tiny construction workers from afar! We waved to try to get them to smile for the camera, but it was hot, and most of them just weren’t having it. There are two photos from the small park we walked through, then we hit the grocery store! The two photos are from the bakery. The first is clearly a version of a Monte Cristo sandwich called a Croque Monsieur, a grilled or deep-fried sandwich with meat and cheese inside. We have been using the app Google Translate to enter phrases in either English or Japanese to communicate at times. The app also allows us to point the camera at foreign text, and using the phone’s camera, it will translate the text as you look at an item! Mike calls it the Translator app, while Jan calls it the Magic Camera. Anyway….back to the Monte Cristo sandwich. Let’s just say, the app works fine sometimes, and not well at other times. When we pointed it to the Japanese card with the price and description, it translated the text as Lasagna Wind Clock Monsieur. Whaaaaat? Instead of Croque Monsieur, we have a Clock Monsieur, but Lasagna Wind leaves us scratching our heads. For the next photo, which appeared to us to be a strawberry and banana sandwich on white bread (???), it translated the text as Strawberry Banana with Cream. So, it works, sort of, sometimes, and at others, it is a massive failure. It could be due to local dialects, though. We are not sure.
We end with two fun photos….the gigantic green spitting bear, sitting calmly in a water feature outside an office complex (how fun to have your window face Mr. Green!). The second just invited passersby to “Rent me!” – although derision and laughter would be your fate for the day!