July 4, 2014. Running is one of those things I do to help me regain balance and discipline my focus. If tempering a sword out of the kiln hardens the blade, running conditions the body physically and trains the mind to take things in stride. In some ways its also like travelling somewhere far for days. It gives you time alone and allows you to be introspective without looking like you’re hashing things up in your brain. It heightens my senses and helps me see and feel detail through vulnerable sensitivity. It’s almost Japanese but I’m sure running is universal. I brought my runners in hopes of starting each day with runs across the cities we’d be visiting. It would be the best way, I thought, to see parts of the nearby districts that were not on the tourist maps. Getting myself vulnerable through running would allow familiarity of the place to drive in deeper. It was what I needed, to be able to tap into this sensitivity deep enough to help me feel what they call in urban design jargon as “the spirit of a place.” To ‘feel a place’ through this kind of magic is a tool every urban designer should hone.
Before leaving for another district, we viewed Osaka City from the top most level of the castle. We stood there and admired the view of the city that would be home for a few days. What was more striking than what we saw though was the way the vantage point imparted a feeling of power over a huge domain. We were high above the entire city. None seemed higher than where we were. It gave a feeling of control and supreme rule over a vast land. I could imagine the power the castle had in holding the people where they were during the feudal era. The castle, though already a museum, stood tall over the city and hasn’t lost its place as a central icon providing the people not only a clear waypoint but also a strong reminder of who they were and who they serve, an identity somewhat lost, lacking or maybe diluted when I think about the current day Philippines.