The Shinsaibashi area in Osaka Japan, is pure visual stimulation. As one of the better known shopping districts in Osaka, you are sure to find most everything you could be looking for. It’s hard to believe that there are enough people and shoppers to support the crazy amount of stores, shops, and snack stands. It is a little easier to wrap your mind around the consumer base if you take the Midosuji line on a Saturday and get off at Namba station. Walk all the way from Namba to Shinsaibashi while squeezing past what seems like millions of people and it will be clear. Every time you come to a cross street, there is another choice to go toward more endless stores and food options. I just will never understand how these people stay so skinny.
In fall 2014 I was roaming around the area somewhere between Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori when I stumbled on the coolest thing I had ever seen up to that point, TURTLE RACES!
Since I of course don’t speak the language, I would love to believe that there was some real high level gambling going on with the Yakuza. I imagine the turtles were blood doping and were given massive amounts of illegal HGH in order to squeeze the last few tenths of a second from their times. A whole underground turtle breeding and training program where they are forced to lift weights and fight to the death is hidden just out of view of the bleeding heart tourists.
(This guy won and had time to wash his shell before the next turtle finished)
The event was complete with epic pre-race music, engine sound effects, and a play by play of the race from a bull horn toting race master. The Japanese are so polite and even the people who seemed to be bored patiently waited for the finish to clap and celebrate the winner before moving along to more shopping.
Nobody knows what became of the kame that was victorious that day. Some say he retired to a geisha filled temple in Hokkaido. Others say he died from exhaustion going out like a champion should…….or ended up in soup. Either way I thought it was worth a blog post!