H negotiated more stations, arriving at Simiyoshi-taisha a Shinto shrine dating from the third century. Much of it was destroyed and recreated in the nineteenth century. It was strangely quiet.
Instructions were on hand on how to make offerings, duly undertaken, sold trinkets duly purchased. Trees with girths so massive they were astounding, apparently 1000 years old and more, coiled with ropes.
We stopped for a coffee on the way back to the station, not something I expected to be popular here for some reason. Filter coffee with some sort of condensed milk (I later found out it was not dairy at all), superb, not a machine coffee, but imagine a vastly superior version of that flaccid stuff in the US. The interior was quite central European circa 1950's and they were playing Little Richard to the few elderly Japanese women nattering away over their coffee. Onward we returned to E-un, our lovely bolt hole.
H negotiates more transportation as we go out that evening. Dotombori. A tourist area next to a canal, full of garish neon, eateries, massive tacky mascots, a real visual and audio assault. Packed to boot. First stop: a beer in a bar/restaurant with tables on the canal. There was a
small charcoal grill on the bar for the yakatori, beautiful on the eye and on the palette. The barman asks where we are from and when we reply he says “ahh Piccadilly Circus” and more disturbingly “congratulations on the royal baby” I had noticed somewhere that someone had had a baby and found it strange that anyone should give a shit, but so far from home….Maybe their reverence for their royal family is transferable.
In a narrow multi storied restaurant looking out over the canal and neon we embraced noodles with pork and stir-fried rice with all the condiments: sesame seeds, ginger paste, chilli oil; just what the doctor ordered. The noodles were just right with a couple of moist slices of poached pork belly and lashings of flavour.
There was this curious ferris wheel that was built into a building, actually part of it and as we were very much being tourists we had a crack. As with all ferris wheels it was slow and being night-time the views were not spectacular except for the immediate locality and its gauwdy decorations.
We had earlier passed by a stall selling the octopus dumplings famous in Osaka and there must have been thirty odd people queueing. As we returned only there were only fifteen or so; we dived in out of greed. I had come a long way and didn’t want to miss out on anything. They were like molten lava or was I just too greedy to get into them. They were being steamed in moulds with molten liquid inside and the chew of some slices of octopus Very unusual to me, but eminently moorish. Sadly, I was too full to engage with them all.
We took the train back to Fukushima where we stopped for a beer in a small Korean bar close to our guest house. Off to bed early, but jet lag had not finished its tiresome ways. We slept for maybe half an hour and then eyes open. H says “shall we go out?” Well, we were gone before you could say “arigato”. Back to our Korean bar, a few beers, then a young couple of drunk lads joined us, curious about H of course and wondering about our relationship. “My daughter” I explained. “Your real daughter?” he replied. One beer led to another, to Santori highballs, to beef, beef fat and later liver yakatori, those kebabs I had seen being grilled at bars around about. We destroyed them like forest by a wildfire. The night was soon laid bare, one of the boys spilled his drink on my lap and using the excuse of trying to pat me down groped me while his friend touched Honey. No fights, just a yellow card and then he impersonated someone committing hari kari, substituting the blade with his mobile as his shame was exposed. Shortly thereafter we extracted ourselves and slumbered an intoxicated slumber.