Clownin’ Around In Koreatown

 

What a day, what a day. And a long one at that! Heading out to Osaka started at 8:20, which is when okaa-san and otou-san started up the car and off we headed for the station. It felt like a mini family outing, everyone going to drop me off at the station since okaa-san didn’t trust me to not get lost (she was probably right). She walked me right up to the gate for the Hankyuu Line before I was on my own (eep!) heading off to meet up with friends from class. Luckily my solo trip was short and simple, so within a half hour I was with Lydia & Sarah and we were all headed to Osaka. One instance of me not holding on to anything when the train jerked to a stop saw me awkwardly tiptoe-falling into both Lydia and Sarah, which felt like a movie moment of ridiculous and had Sarah laughing for a solid five minutes – I’m here all day folks. It’s a good thing we left earlier than planned, since it took a bit longer than expected to make it there. But alas, we did arrive!

Everyone met up on the JR Loop platform, where we promptly received and extra $5 for lunch and headed right off to just check out the Korean market. So many fresh fish, a bunch of jars of yuzu (and I’ll be damned, I didn’t get a one) and a bunch of kimchi, along with everything else there. Once we’d used up our allotted 15 minutes of wandering we returned to chijimi, korean pancakes of yum, courtesy of Professor MacDougall. Holla!

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Lydia in the Korean market, which was a maze of goodies

Afterwards we walked over some streets to wind up at this random K-pop music shop with a weird make-up section. Fun? A bunch of Korean boy band posters were smattered around outside the store, so I took a pic for Danielle. Then we backtracked a bit to head to Koreatown, a straight-shot street with a sizable jinja and lots of good-looking food. I got another stamp for my goshuincho, then kept wandering down the street with Marley and Ana. Then we returned to Tsuruhashi station to actually eat instead of looking at food longingly. Sarah, Marley, Lydia, Eva and I ended up at some place with Korean lunch sets, so I had bibimbap with cold ramen and condiments, plus this fantastic tea that tasted like cereal? I dunno what it was but me gusta.

Then we headed over to see a random taiko shop, where we learned that the drums are lined in gold foil and that the (cow?) hides they use for the drum skin are freakin’ huge! Following this was a visit to the Liberty Osaka Human Rights Museum, where I couldn’t read more than 1/4th of the exhibits but they had cool graphs that were semi-interpretable, a birthing machine where you could be a fetus (ech, so weird – Sarah & I did it at least 5 times) and a small area where you could try on minorities’ traditional clothing. I got to don an Okinawan robe and hat, paired with musical wood blocks, and it was so cool! It also felt really Hawaiian if only for the colors/boldness, which I super liked.

Lastly, and after a lot of the class peaced-out early, we headed to Kamagasaki, aka the Day Laborers District and home to a lot of burakumin. There we saw people lining up for the shelter and a generally quieter, less happening part of Osaka. A woman also said hello from a public park/garden area, and proceeded to give us all pretty yellow flowers. While doing it, however, she might’ve slightly called Ana a trollop for exposing skin via a V-neck, which is dame and something she made a point of. Oh well.

A lot of people there either just looked at us or called out, ranging from hellos to what I think was a typical American catcall – I couldn’t really understand though. All I know is that professor didn’t translate everything and I’m assuming there’s a reason for it. It makes me wonder, though, what they think of us. There were some friendly hellos for sure; were they just excited to see foreigners, or friendly overall? Were the not-so-nice greetings out of a sense of ‘why are you here, you privileged foreign kids’? something that I can’t fault them for? I’ll never know, but it made me think.

After that, finally, at 6:00, our day was done and we were finally headed home. I made it back at 7:30 and promptly passed out after dinner. Thanks for waiting for this post, and know that if you’re headed to Osaka have a plan, cause there’s a bunch to do!

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