What do you do when you have been living in Osaka as a foreigner for a long long time, and you had your ups and downs with this city, with your life in Japan, … and when the regular things you do on a daily basis are meeting friends for coffee or lunch, going shopping, and … going shopping, or just window shopping because you can’t spend money all the time?
You go to the courtyard and watch a trial. That’s what you do!
One of my friends has been doing this for quite a while now. She has lawyer students who throw legal expressions out in the lessons she barely understands the full meaning of. And when she decided to become more familiar with legal terminologies, she thought that going to trials might be a nice idea. She figured that she’d also have the chance to practice Japanese and Kanji.
So, one day, when she texted me to ask when we can have coffee together, she also added “Would you wanna come and watch a trial with me?”
I first thought she mistyped something and then I wondered - because I'm insecure about my English skills as hell - whether she was using a casual English expression for something else that I didn’t get, so I double-checked what she meant.
But trial, as in courtyard trial, she really meant.
Hell yeah! Of course, I was in.
We met up with two of her friends – an American girl, who knew quite a lot of Kanji, and a Japanese lady, whose main job was to resolve any of our misunderstandings about what was said at court.
Our first job was to decide what trial to attend.
We had quite a few choices but then it came down to picking between a theft case and a drug case.
What’s the fun in theft?
Obviously we took the drug case.
While walking up to the room we chitchatted like chicken at a farm. When we reached the door we waited sitting down at the bench outside and continued giggling and babbling with volume down.
For my friend this was a regular thing but for the rest of us this was a whole new exciting and exquisite new world that had just opened up in front of us. How could we not feel excited? We were fired up! Beside ourselves! Thrilled! Ready to go in!
Finally, when we entered the room, we were instantly quiet as if someone had put an invisible blanket of silence over our heads and bodies. It wasn’t only the room that required that attitude.
It was the fact that this was the trial of a middle-aged man who was accused of having used illegal drugs.
We were in the middle of the misery of another person’s life.
In front of us we were to witness a man’s life reaching its low.
While we listened to the trial, taking notes of the contents and new words we heard, the heavy weight of the situation became our companion. It followed us until after the trial was over, when we left the room, left the building and walked a couple of blocks. There our serious companion said goodbye to us and we were back to our chicken state - laughing and chatting.
Nevertheless, I won’t forget the feeling of the trial, and the thoughts it stirred up in me.
It made me think of how many people out in the world go through some serious shit in their lives due to the lives they have, the circumstances they are in, the choices they make, the (bad) luck they have …
I told my friend that I was really impressed by her hobby. I told her that it would be a great motivation to think of more “cool”, unusual, fun, cheap or even free, let’s not forget “legal” things one can do in Osaka or one’s own town.
Though going to trials in your free time is hard to top - cheers my friend - I’m wondering if you have any ideas or suggestions for what to do in our / your town?
If you do, let me know.