15 January 2017

Osaka: Osaka Castle & Tenjimbashi-Suji

Osaka (well Japan in general) was like a dream-- one that I can remember vividly as if it was only a few days ago when really, it was months ago! The first capital of Japan is known for its abundance not only in food choices, but also historical and cultural marvels. It is almost a far cry from Japan's current capital city, which only adds to its captivating charm.

On our second day in Japan, we decided to first pay a visit to the Osaka Castle. There are two JR stations within the vast complex-- JR Osakajo-koen, and JR Morinomiya. With our tourist train pass, we alighted at the former, which happens to be the nearer one. From the train station, we made our way to the castle by following road signs scattered around the park. Don't be fooled; yes you can already see the castle from the station, but boy it wasn't that near.

The whole time, we were thinking about how much more beautiful the walk would have been if the cherry blossoms were still in bloom. Unfortunately, we were a week or two late for sakura season, which isn't so long  a period in the first place. However, we did spot a few late bloomers around the castle!

Top from Kashieca, denim jacket from Forever 21, ripped jeans and boots from Topshop, sunglasses from Uniqlo

Like most castles, Osaka Castle's design is surrounded by a (part-water, and strangely part-land) moat. Osakajo is highly elevated, which allows it visitors to have a wonderful view of the Osaka skyline. But you don't have to go up the castle to see the view-- the scene along the way is stunning enough, However, the paid entrance to the castle itself not only allows access to the view deck, but also the museum inside. The exhibits tell not just the story of the castle and its royalties, but also of the city itself. Several battle gear and scrolls painted with real gold are also on display. However, it is prohibited to take photographs (in order to help preserve the condition of these artifacts).

Ascending and descending the castle was interesting. The staircases were narrow and steep, and each was designated to be one-way up, or down. Even the view deck can only accommodate a fair amount of people, so it's highly-suggested that you follow the clockwise direction when moving around the area to avoid blocking the way.

In leaving the castle, you can choose to go back the same way you came in. However, since the distance to JR Morinomiya station is almost the same as that of JR Osakajo-koen, I highly recommend taking that route instead. You'll find that there's so much more to see!

After a morning well spent in Osakajo, we decided to take a quick trip to Tenjimbashi-suji, one of Osaka's many shopping streets. We didn't find much to buy since it looked more like a market for locals (no souvenir items to be found), but it was already lunchtime so we resolved to find a place to eat at. We ended up in this hole-in-the-wall that serves delicious gyudon (beef bowl). A couple of observations I made on Japanese people: one, they love rice, and; two, they eat hella fast. Makes you wonder how the general populace have slim builds-- must be all the walking they do.

While walking along the covered street, I also discovered an emoji in real life which ended up being a favorite of mine: the dango! They are like chewy rice balls or mochi. Although the difference is faint to the tongue, each color stands for a different flavor-- the green one is matcha, the pink one is sakura, and the white one is the regular one. It's highly likely you'll find a lot of them in markets like this one, and when you do, make sure to try it out!

Once we've hit the bottom of our bowls, it was time to leave Tenjimbashi-suji via JR Temma (the same station we arrived at). As planned, we headed to Kyoto where we would spend the rest of the afternoon until nighttime came. Saving that part of the day for a different post!

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