O is for Osaka and Oxford
Osaka, Japan (1986-1989)
We returned to Osaka as tourists a few weeks later, and then Robert and Hiroshi (the sketchy businessmen's names) contracted us out to teach Japanese businessmen in Osaka once a week, in the evenings. We complained at first, because that wasn't part of our contract, but it was actually a rewarding experience that led to some fun times.
Osaka is a really fun city, full of amazing restaurants, sights, and sounds. It's Japan's economic center and is the third-largest city in Japan (after Tokyo and Yokohama). People in Tokyo seem to look down on Osakans a bit...such as a Japanese (nisei, or second-generation) teacher in Portland. When we first got married, we signed up for a Japanese class to keep up our Japanese, but our teacher seemed disgusted with our Osaka accents (called Osaka-ben), which she could hear even through our nonfluent Japanese! I dropped out after a few classes because the other students hardly knew any Japanese and I figured I had better use for my time, and the teacher didn't seem that thrilled to have students who could actually speak Japanese!...but Mike continued on, because he is so polite!
|First tourist visit to Osaka, in Shinsaibashi|
|Abby and Debbie in the big city|
|Debbie and I singing karaoke|
|On the subway with the famous "Robert" (who I still liked at this point--later was another story!)|
|With some of my students in Osaka|
|Party at my apartment, with another teacher|
and the school secretaries (who I loved! they were all absolutely brilliant at English,
way better than the students themselves--
but because they were women, they were confined to administrative roles)
|Party at my apartment|
|Playing "spin the bottle" (the tradition in my family) in my apartment one Christmas in Japan|
We had a two-burner gas stove and a toaster oven...that's about it!
I have so many fond memories of Osaka and times with Mike--cherry blossom viewing at Osaka Castle; eating dinner in fancy French restaurants, wine bars, and robatayakis; going to the movies and being the only ones to laugh during American and English films; and spending time and getting to know each other. Also, we both met our respective parents for the first time in Japan. Osaka truly has some of the best food in the world...it was there that I discovered my love of Indian food. We regularly ate wonderful Mexican, French, Italian, Chinese, and of course Japanese food.
And of course I will never forget the moment when I met Mike in Namba Station, after we'd been apart for one month, while his friend was visiting him from England, and we fell in love by writing letters to each other. I came down the escalator at the station and saw him waiting for me, in his suit and tie...it's one of the most romantic moments in my memory. We went to a wine bar for dinner and then went to the Shinsaibashi bridge and made out passionately...I'm sure shocking all of the Japanese around us! Public displays of affection between couples are not done in Japan. This Japanese culture site says: "The Japanese frown on open displays of affection. They do not touch in public. It is highly inappropriate to touch someone of the opposite sex in public." So we were not following proper etiquette, but we couldn't help ourselves. Young love!
|View from Shinsaibashi bridge, where we made out!|
Mike had his one-and-only-ever mustache when his parents visited. His mother was horrified when she saw it, but he waited to shave it off until after they had left!
|Love this photo of Mike and his dad (who died in 1992)|
|Mike with his parents and the moustache with a life of its own!|
|Cherry blossom viewing party with Mike's parents and friends|
I also treasure time spent with new friends...
|At a party with my fellow teachers, who I'm still in contact with, Kelly|
(who lives in Victoria, BC) and Sue (who runs a B&B in the Cotswolds)
|With our Japanese teacher Ikuko, her husband "Peacock," and my PLU friend Tami,|
who also joined us in Japan in 1989 and stayed there for several years (she now lives in Boise)
|With Mike on a bridge in Osaka|
|A truly flattering photo of my husband and an enormous Asahi beer bottle! :)|
|Celebrating my 24th birthday at a Mexican restaurant in Osaka|
|Meeting sumo wrestler Asashio!|
|And meeting the largest sumo wrestler at the time, Hawaiian-born Konishiki|
(who weighed 630 pounds at this heaviest)
He was the first foreign-born sumo wrestler to reach Ozeki title
|We ate out a lot--Osaka has such great food! This photo was taken in a favorite Italian restaurant...|
|At one of our goodbye parties right before we left Japan|
|Meeting up with Fumiko after 20+ years!|
|One of Oxford's most famous buildings,|
the Radcliffe Camera (built in the 1700s)
According to wikipedia, there is evidence of teaching at Oxford that dates back to 1096. The university grew rapidly from 1167 when Henry II banned English students from attending the University of Paris. Disputes between Oxford academics and the townspeople led to some of the academics fleeing to Cambridge, where they established the University of Cambridge in 1209. Oxford and Cambridge have many things in common (including a rivalry) and are jointly called "Oxbridge."
|Inside the Bodleian|
|I love the funky statues and heads all over Oxford, like these!|
|Famous "Bridge of Sighs"|
|More wonderful faces!|
|I was intrigued to poke my head into one of the college dining halls! |
Much nicer than the PLU university center!
|Another beautiful Oxford dining hall|
|Mike visiting Oxford in 1990, the year we got married|
|Beautiful aerial of Oxford University|