A Midday Hike

This morning, I went to the dentist for the first time in four months. I work from 4PM to 7PM on most days, so I had plenty of time to kill after my appointment ended at eleven.

After running some errands for my husband, I had lunch at Gyoza no Ohsho—an inexpensive restaurant with branches across Japan that specializes in gyoza and Chinese food. It was lunchtime, so the shop was busy, but I didn’t have to wait to get a table. I ordered the gyoza lunch set, which includes a cup of rice, a small bowl of eggdrop soup, and two pieces of karaage, which today were uncharacteristically (and quite embarrassingly) small.

My husband introduced me to Gyoza no Ohsho when we came to Japan together for the first time in 2018. He then gave a disclaimer, saying that while the food is nothing special, it’s good enough for the price. This was back when we’ve never heard of the famous Gyoza no Ohsho in Mikage, highly recommended to us by some of the locals we’ve become friends with over the last year and a half. “It’s different,” they said. “The best in Kansai. Perhaps even in all of Japan.”

The Mikage shop is so popular, it has a 4.4 star rating on Google Maps, based on 695 reviews. It’s almost always full, and in the busiest times, there’d be a crowd waiting outside. My husband and I went there once, and I can confirm the food is tastier than your average Gyoza no Ohsho.

After eating, I walked to Hankyu Okamoto station in search of a new cafe to try, but couldn’t make my mind up and thus ended up walking northward to the neighborhoods in the mountains.

I’ve always liked to walk and wander. When I was still a student in UP Diliman, I sometimes skipped class and spent time walking aimlessly around the campus. So when I graduated and no longer lived inside the campus, I was frustrated at how unwalkable Manila (and even my hometown, Pampanga) is.

Walking calms me, especially when the weather is agreeable. Today, it was perfect. Sixteen degrees. Clear, azure skies. The wind whistling as it swept through trees, making it rain red and yellow—a scene I used to daydream about as I traversed the firetree lined Roces Street in UP.

Okamoto is one of the more affluent neighborhoods in Kobe. It’s not uncommon to pass by larger-than-average houses with manicured gardens and Mercedes Benzes in the garage. Where I live, not many people own cars (or a garage, even) since we’re near two train lines. But it makes sense to have a car (or two or three) when you’re wealthy and live on a mountain.

I say hike but it was really just a stroll around a residential area. While taking photos of the landscape and its features—mostly trees and shrubbery—I came across several elderly hikers on their way down and some high school students still in their P.E. uniforms. But most streets were empty, and at times it felt as if I were in a ghost town.

I’ve been living in Japan for over a year now, and yet every time I take leisurely walks in sleepy neighborhoods, I am overcome with gratitude. Something I don’t often feel, which is partly why I very easily slip into one of my darker, more depressive moods.

I really ought to take more of these solitary walks.

It was nearly 2PM when I decided to head for work and along the way, I came upon a part of Sumiyoshi river that I haven’t seen before.

My husband has always asserted that Sumiyoshi river is better than Ashiya river. After seeing this, I completely agree.

On my way down to the riverside path, my brother videocalled me, so I got to show him the river, the old people walking their dogs, the ducks, and the golden ginko trees. A slife of suburban life in Kobe.

#walk #hike #japan #autumn #musings #journal #sliceoflife #kobecity