My mom and my sister left for parts north of Tokyo, or at least north-ish, to visit friends. I decided that if there were going to be just all women there, I’d go by myself to my old neighborhood in Osaka instead. This also meant that I could visit with people from my old job and about ten of us went out to dinner at a yakiniku restaurant.
We did the traditional exchange of business cards even though my cards are wildly inaccurate at this time. Most everyone is a manager or even above. The tall guy second from the left has lived in the US and I keep in contact with him through email from time-to-time. He’s also the only one who still works for Mitsubishi. Everyone else works for Renesas, a company that’s was started by 55% Hitachi and 45% Mitsubishi.
I stayed at my not-really-my-aunt’s place (mom’s sister’s husband’s sister’s) and they took me to their garden where they’d won one of the prizes for having one of the 10 best out of 450 gardens.
Their vegetable garden is in a community garden that used to be an old bamboo field.
Afterwards they took me to a Japanese cafeteria where I got to eat lots of things I haven’t properly had since I left Japan 16 years ago. Certain kinds of fish, croquettes, etc, that we usually get frozen in the US. They didn’t make much money off of me. It only cost about 1000 yen for two of us and I slipped on the way out, dropping my tray and breaking my dishes.
Later on in the day I went looking for places I spent a lot of time and didn’t recognize much. In sixteen years and one huge earthquake, they’ve torn down buildings and put up new ones. They’ve also widened the roads and made new ones, which really confused me. Nobody’s moved very far, but lots of stores have closed. Fortunately, both the bicycle shop and the scooter store I went to are still around. The guys at the motorcycle store still look the same, but Mrs. Maeda passed away a couple of years ago.
The kid at the bicycle store, who was in middle school, is now running things as his dad had lung cancer. The “kid” is now in his early 30′s.
They’re tearing down buildings to widen the road and I thought the bicycle store was gone but luckily they were still around.
The funny thing is how everything in Osaka is getting to be 100yen stores. Even McDonald’s has a 100yen menu. The weirdest thing, beyond the teriyaki burger and the shrimp-fry wrap with 1000 Island Dressing was the “MegaMac”, a big Mac with doubled-up patties (4 patties!)