Osaka Observed

Nicholas Quirke was in exploring mode on 21 February 2020. There were a couple of notable areas Peng brought to his attention which would not only enable him to see some of Osaka’s landmark wards, but fulfil some errands to satisfy himself and his friend. He headed to Namba where he was promised he could possibly find a temporary solution to the Sciatica which kept nagging at him. It was a solution desperately needed as once he set out on a 3km walk after a mere 500m he had to turn back and return to the hotel to alleviate the pain in his leg. Some stretches later he set off with the now mild disturbance quickly disappearing. It was a long straight walk through one of Osaka‘S main highways. He passed the river and City hall, through numerous arcades till he reached Namba, an area literally fizzing with life and energy, with one passerby stopping him and dancing for him to a song about unity. Here there was a famous ‘Running man’ image which people were jostling to get their photos and selfies with. He found it quite astonishing the ephemera which people on this continent want to be photographed alongside of. The crowds were swarming and though his usual anathema for throngs did momentarily tease him, he actually found his usual misanthropy had deserted him and he enjoyed the noise and hustle. He found the Bic Camera store Peng had directed him to and eventually located, after having descended into what appeared to be a hell in the form of slot machines, the massage chairs he had been recommended. Nicholas was expecting to find them in a gym environment and taken aback when he saw the chairs were actually in a shop and for sale! Under the guise of trying them out he took off his shoes and made himself comfortable in what was a beast of a chair. It felt odd and uncomfortable to lie back in a chair and succumb to its effective ministrations on a shop floor, in view of the patrons and shop assistants. For about 15 minutes he allowed the chair to pull and kneed at his limbs and muscles and by the time he was through there were a number of other people also using the facilities for free. With renewed vigour he set off to find a renowned tea house for a quick exotic cuppa before picking up an exclusive bike cover for Peng. He had a wonderful lunch at a vegan restaurant he had located in the basement of a department store and the food was so good, he purchased a deli box not take back to the hotel with him for supper. There was a shrine in the area and went to have a look at that before heading back the 3 Kilometres to his hotel. He spotted a park on the map and thought he would visit and take in the fresh air of Mitsu Park, till he discovered it was a fairly funky urban area with very quirky buildings and lampposts shaped like stick figures. He had a tea in Starbucks, then to give himself the refreshment needed to get home. Ever since Peng had taken pity on him and bought Nicholas a take away dinner in Beijing they had occasionally eaten supper together over the internet. This was another evening of food, chat laughter and some serious conversation. The situation in Beijing was improving, no new reported cases and life, it seemed was in the embryonic stages of starting again. He was going back to Beijing at the end of the week, he had been offered a temporary home with his friend and he could get on with the purpose of his journey.

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