Tiernan and I have been in Osaka since Sunday. Now, we’re sitting in the airport terminal waiting for a Jetstar flight to Tokyo. We’ve been all over Osaka and Kyoto during the last 3 and a bit days, including visiting Osaka Castle (大阪城) and grounds three times.
We stayed in the tiny, but cutely convenient APA Hotel Osaka-Tanimachi, a five minute walk from the castle. I didn’t realise this when I first booked the hotel (I was going for price over location). But it turned out really well. Osaka has an amazing subway system that will take you absolutely anywhere.
Speaking of subway. Osaka made great first impression on us. After flying in at about 9.30 p.m. on Sunday we made for the train. 7 years studying Japanese has left me with at least the ability to read a train map and purchase a ticket. Turned out we would have been fine not having any Japanese at all. At every station someone voluntarily asked us if they could help us find our destination. Then at the last stop. We reached the street level, stepped out into the drizzle and were handed umbrellas by two salary-men entering the subway.
I love the umbrella system here. You leave your umbrella outside, in case someone else needs it, and you go around the city play swapsies! Anyway, back to the castle…
We had a short wander through the Cherry Blossoms on Sunday. On Monday we came back with our lovely guide Mike. This was after the trip to the Asahi Brewery which I didn’t take pictures of – you’re not allowed to. I actually recommend the Asahi Brewery. It’s appointment only, and the entire tour is in Japanese, but you get THREE BEERS at the end (soft drink options available for the kids). It was really good fun and only a couple of railway stops out of Osaka.
Back to the castle!
So Mike walked us around while telling us about the two castles that have existed on that site. The castle was the site of great territorial battles during the 1500s. I was interested to learn that the castle was actually destroyed by fire after it was struck by lightning in 1665.
Check out this picture of Tiernan next to the largest single slab of stone in the castle complex. Pretty impressive masonry.
It costs 500 yen to enter the castle. Most of the floors make up a museum narrating the castle’s shogun-history. It is a bit crowded and there isn’t much there you can’t learn from other museums, but the observation deck is rather nice.
Last night, even after a 1hr train ride from Kyoto, we ran up to catch the castle lit up at night. It’s such an amazing place and looks good all the time. A night-time bonus was the empty courtyards. The crowds of tourists just disappear when they sun goes down – boy are they missing out!
By the way… tomorrow is my birthday! And I’m going to Disneyland and I am VERY EXCITED!