We had it all before us, five months of adventure, new countries, new foods, complete and utter freedom. We’d gotten over the initial shock of being in a new place; we were falling quickly for this country and particularly, the city of Osaka.
We wandered the streets with the map tucked away in my bag, sat in different parks people watching, drank cans of beer along the canal in Dotonbori. It felt familiar. I had this emotional connection almost immediately. It kind of reminded me of Melbourne; Osaka is a city with soul.
It’s a game Luke and I play often when we visit new cities. The “could you live here” game, and from day one we both agreed that we definitely could.
We trolled the craft beer scene around the Kita area near Osaka Station. We found a craft beer map of the city in one of the bars. That could very well be what clinched it for us – a city that loves its craft beer so much they bothered to make a map of it. Swoon.
We wandered Osaka Castle Park on a Sunday afternoon, sat at a fountain with some Chu Hi and watched families chase their children around. It was warm for early Spring and people were taking advantage of it. Everywhere we went had this community feel, like we weren’t in a big city at all, but a small neighborhood where everyone says hello to each other.
We spent most evenings in the Namba area walking through Dotonbori, eating Takoyaki, sampling different beers while sitting on benches people watching, listening for the sound from the pachinko every time the automatic doors opened. There was a supermarket in the Namba Train Station that we both loved. We’d walk through it on our way back wandering each aisle, maybe buying a bento box if we felt peckish.
One day we simply went for a walk. We started at the castle and worked our way along the waterway. We must have walked all afternoon.
Eventually, we sat in a park, Nakanoshima Park. It was like an island in the middle of the canal. Families pushed strollers past us, someone was having their wedding photos taken. A market was on with fresh produce and gourmet cheeses. There was a snack stand that was selling beer.
I think that’s probably when I first said it out loud.
“Imagine if we lived here, we could come to this park all the time”.
Luke just nodded. We both knew we could happily live here, just like we’d happily lived in Korea.
“What would we do here?” one of us asked.
“We’d probably have to teach English,” the other replied.
We didn’t bring it up again.