Alia, Heather, Junko and I took a day trip to Osaka today to see what was there. We’d planned on seeing the one major touristy site, Osaka Castle, then spend the rest of the time just walking around and, of course…shopping! The weather was clear and sunny when we got there, but got grayer and more overcast as the day went on—and the humidity was absolutely appalling!
Anyway, one of my favorite things about travel, as I’ve said before, is arriving in a completely new city and figuring out where to go and how to get around. There was no shortage of that when we stepped off the train at Osaka station! It opened into this huge underground shopping arcade that was absolutely jam-packed with people. But once we’d wandered around for a bit, we figured out how to get on the Osaka loop line and made our way to Osaka-jo Koen station (Osaka Castle Park).
Osaka Castle was really awesome, and the first Castle I’ve been to since coming to Japan. Although it’s a concrete reconstruction built in 1931, it was still beautiful and impressive. The view at the top was great, too. The inside is a museum with lots of interesting artifacts and information on the life and times of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Lord of the castle and important Japanese historical figure. What was really awesome was a display of modern-day Samurai sword blades (Katana)—the workmanship and beauty was absolutely amazing (and, unfortunately, photos were not allowed). Check out the new Photo Album on the photos page for more.
Junko has a friend living in Osaka with whom she was going to spend the night, so we traveled to the Namba station and found a place for lunch. Afterwards, we sort of split up and did shopping an spent time on our own. One of my big goals was a visit to the Kato Model Railroad shop, where I stocked up (a bit…) on Japanese-prototype models which are both expensive and hard to find back home. I tried not to go overboard, but armed with the thought that I was spending much less here in person that I would be if I were ordering from the USA made me end up walking out with quite a bagful.
My own last stop was the famous Umeda Sky Building. It’s a really cool looking twin tower building near the station with a rooftop garden suspended between the two office towers. Unfortunately, by the time I got there I was loaded down with shopping and there wasn’t enough time to go to the top before meeting the others back at the station.
But it was a fun trip; we took the train home at around 7:30. It was also my first indication of what a really crowded Japanese city is like—if Osaka was bad, I’ll bet Tokyo is going to be quite an adventure!