Today I took a walk through the old 'hood. The 'cho' of the 'Hanazano'. I tried to pay a visit to my old rooftop studio but the door to the apartment building was locked. Nothing in the 'cho has changed... the people still create a cloud of what feels like hostility towards Gaijin. It's really not a pretty part of the city, and upon re-visiting it today, I can see why I wanted to leave. Still, it was nice to be able to go back there and know that I was only passing through.
I walked from my hotel all the way to Tamade, another somewhat homogeneous part of town, and the place where I experienced the most unpleasant encounter during the time I was living in Osaka. I chose to walk rather than take the subway partly to say hi to the old 'hood and partly because I refuse to let events of the past continue to promote fear.
I met my friend John at my old 'home ground' - Tamade Bowl - where I started well but ended up getting my arse whipped over 3 games. I think he is starting to doubt that I was once state junior champion... Well, it was 24 years ago...
Despite my poor performance, I still managed to work up an appetite, so for the first time, after visiting this country six times, I indulged in Japanese sushi... I am now a big fan of the sushi train. John won that round too, defeating me 10 plates to 7. I should have stopped at 5 as I felt ridiculously full for a good six hours!
John and I met when I was living over here in 2007 and fortunately, for me, he is very much into and active in the arts scene here. He took me to visit Tezukayama Gallery which was a great space, exhibiting some pretty cool work and possessing an amazing library of art books... Not to mention the Yves Klein Blue table.
The weather here today was wet and really windy. I find wind quite unsettling but it's funny how your tolerance for things can increase when traveling.
I decided to head back to Absinthe tonight - on a night where they are actually open - and it turned out to be a good choice. I had planned to sit quietly in a corner, observe, and write... I did sit in a corner.
The girl at the table next to me got up to go to the bathroom, and with that, the older Japanese guy she was sitting with looked up, said hello and asked me where I was from. I then spent the next 2 hours or so getting to know Megan, ( a Canadian who has lived here for the past 5 years, and Ichiro-San. I also, by chance, happened to meet
Jamie, who is running the artist residency space near Nara that I will be staying at for a few nights later this month and hope to do a four week residency there in the future. I remembered how this bar has always managed to bring creative types together and tonight was no exception. I was also introduced to a lovely French lady named Pelaggy, who has lived in Osaka for over ten years and is currently running art space in Shinmachi. I have arranged to meet with her some time next week.