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KS Cover no. 77 2006 Ocober

OCT 2006 :: 077

The Yodogawa: my majestic sanctuary

On the banks of the Yodogawa, people get away from it all without leaving the city.

Once a week, I mount my bicycle and head out for my reward for a good week's work. No, I don't go out for an ice cream or hit the local bar for a cold beer. I ride my bike past the shops and the bars and head to my Osaka sanctuary: the Yodogawa.

The Yodogawa, or Yodo River, is the main river flowing through Osaka. It starts where the Kamo River, Seta River, Kizu River, and Katsura River meet, just south of Kyoto, and winds majestically through Osaka all the way to the ocean. As Kyoto's main connection to the sea, the Yodogawa has been a vital transpor-tation route since ancient times and the city of Osaka, in earlier times a collection of small trading villages, developed where this river met the ocean.

Today, the Yodogawa, just north of Umeda, is a place where people live, enjoy time with their family and friends or come for some time alone. It's a place where people can simply be themselves.

Along the riverbanks, people are busy enjoying their free time. As I ride along the paved bicycle path I see teenagers singing and methodically perfecting their dance routines. Musicians play their saxophones, their guitars and their bongos. Art students paint their impressions. Photographers hide in the grass to snap photos of rare birds and other wildlife. Families barbecue their steaks and chat under the setting sun. I even spot a group of almost hidden older gentlemen sitting within the safety of the high grass, as if escaping from dish duty back home, laughing and playing cards.

I routinely pass little kids (as well as big ones) enjoying what seems to be their eternal baseball practices. Helmets and bats neatly lined up, they practice the plays until the sun goes down. While the children practice, parents push lawnmowers, rake up the cut grass and collect rubbish to make the fields playable for their little athletes. Along the foul lines of the baseball diamonds, older men practice their chipping and putting.

I then pass by those not interested in baseball. They're playing soccer or American football or rugby or volleyball or frisbee or cricket. Young men race their remote control cars in the dirt paths and their planes in the sky. Hidden behind the bushes, teenagers race their dirt bikes along the track. Further along the twisting path I pass the tennis courts, filled with singles and doubles serving it up. A wake boarder jumps the surf and waves hello. When the tide is low, clam diggers mine along the reeds.

The river is full of wild and not-so-wild animals. Families bring their dogs to run and sniff. A dog training school sets up obstacles for their dogs to overcome. A lady practices her synchronized walk routine with her big white duck. Children catch beetles, butterflies and cicadas. Turtles laze in the water and along the shore. Large herons, hoping to grab an easy lunch, watch the fishermen carefully.

The river has a natural, rustic, far-from-manicured beauty. The seasonal flowers grow wildly and in abundance. Each month or two the colours change … the reds and pinks fade, as the white, purples and yellows bloom. Recently the oranges and hot pinks have been at their best.

Although the Yodogawa isn't the cleanest river, and I wouldn't dare take a dip, it does have some beautiful areas along its banks to picnic, play sports or do what ever it is you feel like. Unlike the rest of Osaka, it just doesn't seem to have any rules to follow or fashion trends to uphold.

Text & photos: Laura Markslagand

:: Online Articles


Re-imagining Osaka
Re-branding Osaka


The great Kansai-Kanto debate
Kansai and Kanto face off


The yodogawa: my majestic santuary
On the banks of Yodogawa


Alternative sumo in Kansai
Sumo of tears / Amateur world sumo championship


Oasis of tranquility among rugby scrums
Khajuraho & Orchha, India


A way less known
Mt. Takao, Kyoto

:: Kansai Listings


Up to date cinema listings guide so you always know what's on, where and when!

:: ART

Best exhibitions & listings


Best events & listings


Best gigs & listings


All the hot picks + Kireek

:: Also in this month's mag


Ristorante Rvalentino, Kobe


Best festivals & listings


New releases & top ten


Best films & cinema listings




David Simpson of Illectric Sheep

Getting there

For the best of the Yodogawa, take the bicycle path on the north side of the river starting at Hankyu Juso station or Midosuji/Hankyu Nishinakajima Minamigata station. To get to the Yodogawa from these stations go out the east exits and follow the tracks south until you reach the river. Then continue east along the bicycle path. Once you pass various bridges, baseball diamonds and the Yodogawa golf course look for a large steel bridge (JR Gakken-Toshi Line) with an adjoining wooden pedestrian bridge. Cross this pedestrian bridge to the southern side of the Yodogawa and continue east to Moriguchi. Although a far cry from Muskoka, the Yodogawa is a magical place, a true haven.