Before I went back to Denver for bereavement with my dear husband, Steve, we had a whirlwind of activity getting settled in our new home in the Shinmachi district of Osaka.
Interestingly enough this was the prostitution district of the city pre-World War II, and tons of U.S. incendiary bombs dropped on Osaka burned the wooden structures to ash. Japanese culture didn’t think prostitution wrong, it was just conveniently located in this district. Now it’s been rebuilt into a lot of shops and boutiques, restaurants, everything you can want a few blocks from your house and a short walk or train ride to the Namba and Dontonburi districts.
We had looked for an apartment for two days. The first day being rather scary at the end of March when we started looking, because the Japanese fiscal year was ending, we were informed, so apartments were getting snapped up quickly. We needed a three bedroom for my two kids to join us, and things were either not suitable or funky.
Luckily the next day Nancy our ReLo specialist said, “Good karma! Your lucky day! This apartment popped up this morning! It’s rare in this building!” It turned out to be a penthouse on the 35th floor. It’s larger than usual for Japan, but perfect for our family that would be eventually joining us. Steve was in shock, amazed at it all.
The Company would have paid for my almost 17-year-old daughter, Paloma, to attend Osaka International School for her remaining two years of high school, but she refused to go. She has a boyfriend, is in the high school marching band and has a gaggle of friends in DeLand, Florida. We tried everything, even counceling, but having left friends behind in Boulder, Colorado at age 9 as well as more friends in the U.S.V.I. a second time when we moved, she was done. She wanted to stay put for a summer. No travel!
My son would’ve killed to attend the school and more here, but he’s 19 and great at languages and loves traveling. But he’s starting college and will stay with his sister. They are thriving with their independence from Mom in our unusual family and taking more responsibility for themselves. Perfect! I am reborn in Osaka as a displaced Householder Yogini. They will be coming for Christmas and summers.
We both got 5-year visas from the company, and we had to go down to the ward to register and get my residency card. Then we opened a bank account for me, and Steve got an official commuter card for when he goes to work via train.
It can be overwhelming to be so illiterate in such an exotic place as Japan, as the Japanese makes me feel empathy for anyone who is an immigrant in the U.S.A. Not knowing what packages or anything says. I could use Google translate, but it doesn’t always work. Need to get another phone with Internet. We are dependent on some ReLo specialists to do everything for us from make a phone call to make an appointment with a dentist or hair salon. The Company is providing 100 hours of Japanese lessons at the local Bertliz, so that will help in addition to my older brother Al’s gift of a Japanese language book.
So a lot of food shopping is “Osaka Surprise.” I thought it was water but it’s a Gatorade like drink. I thought it was candy but it tastes like fish! And of course at Gourmet Beans food store on our block, I naturally found myself once again erroneously in the express checkout lane, feeling like an Ugly American slowing down the line.
I will go into more detail with our apartment in the next post. It’s getting hot and muggy here in Osaka for the summer. But the evenings are cool, and I love the gentle rain. You follow your nose in Osaka, to the wonderful scents of restaurants and flowers.
I can’t wait to show you the amazing conveniences of Japanese architecture and style in Osaka and our apartment, as well as the wonderful conveniences of living with efficient public transportation, something the U.S.A. eschews, cutting Amtrak! Insane.
And of course I still feel grief from my father. Such irony that he survived the war and had such a Japanese-filled past. We will explore those things too in posts to come, as I move from the past to the present and our future in Osaka.
It’s a mindful thing. Just to sit and meditate, not worry about the past or future, but be present and aware of all the wonderful happening around us. North Korea, earthquakes and Fukushima radiation be damned! No place on Earth to go to hide. You might as well get over your fears and just live your life in the moment. Cause that’s all there is.