Let’s Walk Together
Spring has finally sprung in Osaka, Japan. In the beginning of April, I wrote about how our blossoms were finally blooming. Now we’re nearing its end, and most of the blossoms have been replaced by leaves. The pollen is out and about, according to my sinuses. Birds are chirping, stray cats mewling at the spring moon…the days are warm, the nights cool. Spring is a lovely change of pace from winter, isn’t it?
I had a 定期券, [teikiken] or commuter pass that let me ride between where I live and where the school is located (only a train stop away) for an unlimited amount of rides for an allotted period of time. Mine was for three months. You can get them for increments of one, three, or five months. Three seemed logical. But in any case, it ran out last week. And while yes, sometimes I’ve merely bought a normal ticket to train to school, I’ve also learned of this lovely walking path. My friend took me through here one day, and I’d like to share her little secret.
I have to go under the train station, actually. There’s a little tunnel that pedestrians can walk through. After going through the tunnel, you cross over the bridge. Osaka is a big prefecture (which is akin to a state or province, I suppose) filled with rivers, so there’s never a shortage of bridges. The water, especially in the morning, is beautiful and often has ducks swimming in it. Today was no exception. I wonder, though, what the ducks are actually eating?
For a good while, you follow the river. There’s an adorable walking path right up against the water’s edge, and without exception there are people enjoying the pathway along with me. Sometimes, I see older gentlemen and ladies playing golf. Sometimes, walking their dogs. I usually get a glance or two, but they quickly go back to their business. There’s also a few fishermen who frequent the area.
Eventually, you have to walk up a ramp and follow a lovely path of trees until you hit a road. On the other side, there’s a Buddhist temple – housing quite a few graves. It’s beautiful and simple, mostly monochromatic with just a touch of colour here and there. That was one of the things that surprised me about Japan – there’s quite a few graveyards in places you wouldn’t expect. I imagine it’s because from a spiritual point of view, the Japanese don’t really “fear” death (as in they realize it’s just another part of life and existing), so there’s no need to hide the markers of those who have passed up high where nobody would see. There’s no tragic feeling associated with these graveyards. If anything, it’s a mix of awe and respect.
Following the road, you walk by a tiny little playground. The main thing there is a rocket ship-inspired slide set. I wish I could go play on it some mornings. Follow the road for a little while longer, and as you walk along a new path that you’ll find just off to your left, you’ll pass by some tennis courts. On the other side, I believe there’s a soccer field, but I honestly don’t know my sports well enough to tell you.
You eventually make a hard left turn, follow the mini-street lined with construction work, and you hit the train tracks again. After you cross over the train tracks, you’ve arrived at my university. It’s a pretty simple mile walk, but every time I walk it, something is different. It’s a fantastically peaceful way to start the school day.
Especially when I have friends to walk with me.