Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Who Knows What Tomrrow Will Bring?

My boss has a plan. One of the options works just fine. The other does not, not without some additional key details. I have no idea when I am leaving Japan - maybe still Friday (which means I`ll have to come back again, at some point, on his dime), maybe at some point over the weekend (in which case I`m hoping late Sunday evening), who bloody knows?

Today was good. Did you know that Apple has their iPods online in stores and hence you can check email for free? Between that and the free one I`m on at my hotel right now, I`ve not paid a cent to use the Internet - handy as I`ve been checking often to see what bossman has to say.

I went to the Osaka Peace Museum today, which turned out to be about war. In the entrance was a statement that Japan was responsible for many hardships in Asia during WWII. There was an exhibit on the incendiary bombing of Osaka - half the population was killed by the end of the war. There was another display about Manchuria and the Japanese massacre at Nanking, one about POW camps, one about forced labor camps for Koreans with pictures showing the survivors looking just like those of the Auschwitz display (the only mention of the European part of the war), and a room about conflicts and movements towards peace around the world since 1945. There was no mention of the issue of comfort women, which I commented on in my survey. Aside from that, I was pleasantly surprised by the portrayal, considering the reputation Japan has for refusing to accept responsibility for what they did during WWII. Granted, I do wonder whether the shades of meaning in the Japanese versions of everything are the same as the English.

From there I went to Osaka Castle. To be honest, it isn`t the most fascinating of structures and the whole thing is a fairly recent reconstruction anyway. However, the view from the top floor was great (and I got to play with my super zoom) and the exhibits had some cool samurai armour and helmets, along with some fairly cool paintings. I think the Japanese like the colour blue as much as I do. The grounds of the castle were nice and I hung out for the rest of the afternoon. I saw some odd things - a man practicing his golf swing, stray cats, a guy riding a bike with a canary on his head, a bird catching fish in a koi pond, and some loud, loud cicadas.

Sitting by the pond watching the bird hunt for fish, I was feeling really calm and meditative. Then I read the end of Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and then I was just really, really sad. I wonder if it doesn`t have something to do with the solitary nature of my trip (and I should stress, I`m most certainly not lonely), but that book just broke my heart. It was really, really good, but perhaps not the best choice for a trip alone.

What is awesome about travelling alone is the ridiculous sense of competence you feel after the simplest tasks. I bought a subway ticket from a machine and basically felt like I had conquered the world. I ended up in one of the women only cars - such an odd thing to look around and see only women on a subway. I also finally found some postcards and a couple of decent souvenirs for the girls that won`t bankrupt me - I just can not get over how expensive it is here. Socks that would cost 50 cents in Korea are $4.50 here.

Right, I`m off to rest my tired feet and find some food. If you are following the fun saga of my lack of visa issuance number, stay tuned for tomorrow`s episode, where we will find out if our plucky heroine will be able to actually complete her visa run, albeit on a revised schedule, or if she will have to return to Korea, sans E2 for the time being.

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