Every morning I get up at six and take the dogs for a walk in the park.
Almost everywhere, dogs have to be kept on the lead. Dogs in Japan rarely if ever get a chance to run freely. Which is sad. But there is this place that I call the “future park” – it’s a newly-developed extension of the big park, and there are no signs (yet) about dogs and leads… So we go there and the dogs can have a run.
On the way back through the main park, with the dogs on the lead, I see the old people playing “gateball” (it looks like croquet). It’s amazing, they are out there every single morning at 6.
We come home at around 6:40 and I have a wash and get dressed for work. No tie, because of Coolbiz. Breakfast is oats or granola and a cup of tea, maybe some toast, and then it’s time to leave for work. The dogs and Yuko come to the screen door to see me off.
My route to the station takes between 10 and 15 minutes, bringing me around the edge of the park, then along a footpath lined with zelkova trees.
I usually arrive at the subway station at about 7:55 or 8 and swipe my ticket.
I’m not in a rush – there are trains every couple of minutes so even if I hear a train arriving I don’t bother to run.
Even though it’s only the second station on the line, all the seats are already taken, so it’s standing room only.
But despite the well-known impression of Japanese public transport, it’s not actually that crowded. In Dublin, on the Luas, everyone is pressed tightly together. On the subway in Osaka, there is normally room to stand without touching anyone else.
On the journey I can listen to Japanese lessons on my phone, that I download from japanesepod101.com, or I can read the New Yorker. It takes about half an hour, and then I emerge into the morning sunshine of Midosuji Avenue.
From the station, it’s only about 2 minutes’ walk to this very elegant 1930s building, where I work.
Note on the word of the day:
The Japanese for morning is 朝 asa. The same character appears in the word for “tomorrow” 明日 ashita, just as we might say “in the morning”. To wish someone “Good morning” you say ohayou gozaimasu.