For Chris

A Japanese law enforcement officer takes a whiz facing the a busy street (invisible from this angle) next to the Yodogawa river. The steady line of traffic that passed by shortly after I snapped this photo must have been able to see him, as he failed to conceal himself behind the taller shrub to his right. Maybe he was just a cosplay urination exhibitionist.
Fun fact: it is socially acceptable to whip it out and take a leak almost anywhere on the streets of Japan, especially if you are an old man.
The only way to prevent this is to put little torii (the red Shinto gate) up in places where you don’t want people to piss. Pissing on a torii, as my brother explained, is like pissing on God.
These things apparently work pretty well. Juso, famous for snack bars, colorful non-chain izakayas with an authentic Kansai atmosphere (rivaled only by Shinsekai in my humble opinion), and negiyaki (a type of okonomiyaki, which on a side note I refuse to call a Japanese pizza- who came up with that anyway!) as well as drunk people making their way home from these establishment. The fact that this particular wall does not smell like urine is a testament to the power of the mini torii to ward off those who would otherwise urinate in this area.
Update: Mark has some related pictures up at the Champon Adventures. Thanks dude!

Warmer weather

It’s been a bit warmer around Osaka lately, and like this semi I’ve been able to shed down a layer and enjoy the crisp air. Hopefully Spring will come early this year. It’s a sad and beautiful thing, to know that this year may well be my last opportunity to enjoy Hanami in Japan. It’s a shame that there aren’t any cherry trees around the Yodogawa though.
Heh, it’s only January and I’m already thinking about drinking under the gentle rain of cherry blossoms…
Update (Jan. 19th, 3:33 PM): Never mind, it’s snowing again…

Homes of the homeless

I take these pictures because I truly respect the resourcefulness that these homeless people possess. Using scavenged materials and simple blue tarps, the Yodogawa homeless population has built a community next to the river. By doing so, they have secured themselves one of the best views available in Osaka
The homeless of the Yodogawa don’t bother anyone- I have never heard of anyone being molested or even bothered for spare change. Often they hang out, have a couple of drinks, and barbecue. At other times you can see them tending gardens, fishing, practicing their golf, clamming (yes, people do eat clams from the river!), or walking their dogs.
Their dogs are dangerous, though. There are wild packs that roam the banks, and it is best to be wary if you are walking around this area. It is best not to venture out around this area alone, especially at night time, and certainly if you are a female.
Anyhow, for the duration of my stay, I will be posting pictures of these amazing homes as I take them. As I don’t want to upset anyone, I’ll only be able to take a few at a time or risk being obvious.
Honestly, these homes are amazing- the homeless have accumulated or fabricated everything that they need (refrigerators made out of coolers, outdoor kitchens, and furniture among many other things), and maintain a relatively comfortable life. You can check here for periodic updates.

Inoshishi in Kobe

Last year, Huw and I went on a hike through the mountains of Kobe, starting from Ashiyagawa and ending in Shukugawa. Along the way, we saw many signs with wild boars on them, but saw no real wildlife to speak of, only other hikers. This sign stands right in front of the Hankyu train station, warning the people of Ashiya about the dangers of wild boars that sometimes come down from the hills to get run over by BMWs and Mercedes Benzes. If you’re going to get run over, Ashiya is definitely the place to do it!
The little kid yells “Dame!” at her dad as he gets attacked as a result of feeding the boar. Ah, this brings back so many colorful childhood memories, notably the one where my dad chased after a female black bear and her cubs in order to snap a picture. I’m just disappointed that he didn’t get the picture…
Signs warning hikers against feeding or playing with the boars were more common than one might expect. Personally, if I saw a boar I wouldn’t want any part of it after watching Old Yeller but I guess not that many people have seen what happens when you screw with a boar. You either get gored and end up being shot by your best friend, or you kill the boar, eat it, put its head on a stick and worship it as the God of the island. And then you kill Piggy and use his glasses to make fire.

Justin and Nam

This is a bit late/early depending on how you look at it, but I wanted to say that I’m really happy for you guys. It seems as if you two have been married for over a decade already to me, so it’s fitting after waiting so long that you should get married with such a massive undertaking. Hopefully there will be many more pictures to post later.