Tuesday, October 27, 2009


It's finally autumn here. The leaves are starting to turn and daytime temperatures have dropped to 20° or so. The weather alternates between high, dry, brilliantly blue skies and leaden clouds with drizzling rain. The light is just a little subdued, the colors slightly muted. The evenings are cool and crisp, and the chill now lingers in the shadows even on sunny days. And all along comes the smell of damp earth and gently decomposing leaves. This is my favourite season.

We took a walk around Osaka castle last weekend to enjoy the end of summer. Turns out we were not the only ones with that idea; the castle park was teeming with people. Really, this is the best time of year to enjoy this part of Japan.


This quartet was having an English-style picknick in the castle park. Apparently they don't believe in doing things halfway.


Part of the outer moat - really a tributary of Neyagawa river - surrounding the park, looking northeast where a cluster of business high-rises adds some big-city ambience. Panasonic has a neat four-story interior and home-improvement exhibition here; you can while away an hour or so browsing kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and light fixtures.

Castle Park

There's several tree-lined roads like this one circling the park and they're very popular among walkers, runners and cyclists alike. These are Ginkgo trees; the leaves will turn a bright, clear yellow in another week or three.

They shed small, round nuts that are pretty good dried and roasted, but they're like ball bearings on the road and a danger to anybody with bad balance or weak legs. I head that the city only plants male Ginkgo trees nowadays, since they don't shed seeds.

Osaka Caslte

The outer northwestern castle ramparts and a guard building. The castle area may not look like much for European eyes accustomed to wading hip-deep in medieval architecture, but it's still a very pleasant park in the city center. Also, it's gratifying to see that not everything in this city is torn down and destroyed once it becomes old and worn.

Getting to Carnegie Hall

Saxophone player practising along the northern moat (he's in the big moat picture above too, along with another musician playing the banjo). I love the jazz-inspired clothing.

Homes and apartments don't have a lot of heat insulation due to the mild climate, but that means they're not very soundproof either - thick rock-wool insulation and triple glazing stops sound as well as heat after all. Amateur musicians playing brass winds and other loud instruments are often unable to practice at home. So you frequently find people like this gentleman practising in public parks, along rivers, under motorways or wherever they can without disturbing anyone.

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