I am very thankful that the short cold snap has relinquished and allowed us some warmer days, as I do not feel I am ready for cold weather yet. Also, it’s much easier to get out and go for a walk in a park when it’s warm out. Better yet, it’s an opportunity to go to Osakajokoen, or the central park of the city, where Osaka Castle is.
Osaka castle was originally built in the late 1500s but was mostly destroyed in the 1800s. It was only reconstructed in the 20th century. It is still surrounded by impressive ancient walls, the stones of which are marked with various symbols to provide a system to show where they go and when they were made. As we meandered through the paths towards the castle, we came across a silent and immobile Japanese clown. Now, I traditionally dislike clowns, but I was intrigued. He had a small drum around his middle and three on the ground in front of him, each with a different note stating a denomination of donation. He was standing so still and silent that I wasn’t even sure it was a real person. Indi and I were discussing what to do when a Japanese person came by and deposited a few hundred yen into one of the drums. The questionably-real person slowly came to life and performed:
After that, we walked a bit further to the Castle itself. Not a castle in the traditional European sense, it rises majestically from a tall stone foundation and glints with gold. It is surrounded by serene ponds and gardens and contains a historical museum. Many people visit the castle each day, as it is a popular attraction for both locals and tourists; we sat and people watched for a bit. Afterwards, we wandered the surrounding grounds and into the main park area. It wasn’t long before we wandered into an area full of tents, people, and food vendors. It was a dog festival.
The Japanese LOVE their dogs. This was evident by the extreme care that was taken after all of the animals we saw. Most were in some form of clothing as well, and although I would never do that to MY pet, many were adorable. Land is hard to come by here, so most dogs were of the small yappy-type variety but there were a few notable exceptions. There was a St. Bernard, a big ol’ Shaggy Dog, several gorgeous Huskies, some Labradors, a German Shepard, and a few others I didn’t recognize. There was even a dog that looked like Big Boy, our friend Doug’s dog who I played fetch with in Mexico. Fond memories!
After wandering there for a bit and watching a school band and some cheerleaders perform, the festivities turned focus to a dog show type setup, where several dogs competed in a command exhibition and an obstacle course. It was great fun to watch and some poor dogs got so confused! The toy poodles were hilarious as they jumped much higher than you’d expect to clear the hurdles and the Corgis were universally ready to go, speeding through the course like they were on fire. One poor dog (which reminded us of Indi’s Grandmother’s dog, Freckles) got confused multiple times and wandered off course. It was all for fun, though, and the crowd was very patient and kind to the canines (and trainers) that didn’t do so well.
After the show, things started to break down so we walked to the park fountain. This area is completely paved and not only has a few food vendors, but a long strip where bands set up every day and play music. Only two were left at nightfall, one was a three-piece rock band and another was a singing-only boy band with a totally synthesized soundtrack behind them. Sadly, the boy band was more popular. The chill of autumn came in and reminded me I should’ve worn a jacket when the sun disappeared, so we came on home.
It was a full and worthwhile day. I pet SO MANY dogs and had a great time. It made me miss Lucy a lot (my old dog, put to sleep in August) but also filled me with great joy that so many dogs are so well loved. Well, so many dogs and one irritated looking cat.