Well, I'm leaving Osaka without really having been there. Unfortunately, since I left Tokyo I have been rushing around, and only spent two days in Kyoto. I've been in a suburb of Osaka since then, and spent only a couple of hours in the city itself.
It was interesting being in the suburbs. I've been staying with a friend and her mother in Kishiwada, a city nearer the airport than Osaka itself. To be honest, Kishiwada reminds me more of the Midwest than anywhere in Japan: while there are certainly reminders that I am in Japan, like the genkan where you take your shoes off and then enter the house proper by taking a step up, on the whole the city is very similar to towns in the Midwest. There are long strips of roads lined with malls, and the house I stayed in has a very western feel to it. It reminds me a lot of an aunt's or grandmother's house, with cutesy little knickknacks and candy everywhere. She is a grandmother, so I suppose it fits, but it was just so reminiscent of my childhood.
My friend Kazumi's mother, sister, and niece
Because my rail pass will expire on Thursday, I decided to leave Osaka - as I said, without really having spent much time here - to go to Ise, the center of the Shinto religion. Here a building that is rebuilt from scratch every twenty years holds the mirror of Amaterasu, the central goddess of Shinto and the direct ancestor of the Emperor.
There is also a famous shrine with two rocks, thought of as husband and wife, very near where I stayed when I went to Ise