Exploring Osaka for a bit
Osaka Travel Blog› entry 25 of 52 › view all entries
After my morning looking at temples in Nagoya it is time to head for the next town - Osaka. I guess my main reason for going here today is the little meet up Eiko have arranged later tonight. But I still got a little bit of time to explore before the meet up.
I start walking out of my hotel in the Namba area toward the Osaka Castle. On my way I am a bit fascinated by the way they organize the traffic in Japanese cities. The width of the roads is kid of limited to the space between the houses on each side of the road - and with the value of land in the big cities in Japan bulldozing a couple of houses to make a bigger road is not really an option. Instead they have build roads in multi levels. On road at ground level and another express way up in the above the road - or in some cases on top of some minor houses. It is an efficient way to increase the road space but I figure it must be a quite expensive way to build roads.
I head down for the castle - which is sort of closing because I am coming a bit late - but the park is still open. I walk in and have a look around the area. The castle is originally from 1583 built by Toyotomi - but the castle has been burned down repeatedly. First as a result of war in 1615 and then it was burned down once more in 1665 because it was hit by lightning. Back in 1931 the citizen of Osaka collected money to rebuild the castle tower once again and it is a centre piece of the Osaka Castle Park which is open for the public to enjoy for free.
The walls of the castle is built using stone - and a few of the stones used have got enormous size with a few weighing more than a hundred ton each. The hard work involved in getting these stone to the castle using only manual labor much have been incredible.
The Osaka castle are has been used for military purposes fairly recently the Japanese army used to have a headquarter for the fourth Japanese Army back before the Second World War and probably also during the war as well. When the Japanese dissolved the army after the Second World War the building was used by the police instead before it was transformed into a museum.
The star attraction of Osaka Castle is no doubt the main building itself - it is an impressive building to look at from the outside as it towers above the rest of the area. But walking along the walls of the fortification is also quite interesting because you can get some great views of modern Osaka city from the castle.
As I walk out of the castle I need to o over a small bridge - and on this bridge is a man and a woman looking very formal and having their pictures taken by an official photographer - but quite a few others take their chance and take a photo - I am not sure what they are doing if it is wedding photos or something like that. But especially the woman looks good in her formal dress.
After visiting the castle I stroll along in the heat of the castle area - this is the summer season in Japan - or sticky season - which involves high temperatures and high humidity - not a climate which is suitable for somebody of Northern European decent. Hence it is a bit warm for strolling - but no way to change that.
I head of my hotel a bit before seven - it is almost next to the meeting point for the meet-up. Though I am not sure where exactly the meeting point is - I only know it is on a bridge next to a ferriswheel. I can see the ferriswhell when I leave my hotel so I walk down the street and go to the busy entertainment street of the Namba area and should be able to see the wheel to my right when I pass the bridge we are meeting at. I am looking to my right continuously to try and find the spot for the meet-up but I can’t really spot the ferriswheel anywhere. I end up walking all the way down to a busy street - and I figure I must have missed the bridge - need to head back.
I walk pass the bridge and down to another bridge which is pretty close to the ferrieswheel - but this bridge is virtually empty. There are no people hanging around this area -hence I figure the meeting point gotta be the other bridge - back again towards the other bridge - which by now I have been able to locate. And sure right there on the middle of the bridge is the Osaka chapter of TB. Well it is the Osaka chapter heavily reinforced by Nagoya and New York chapters. To make up the total of 13 people - this might just be a lucky number for the night.
After a few minutes - we are all united. Even the Japanese TBs seem to be more punctual than the TBs of the rest of the world where everybody seems to believe seven means you should not show up before seven and anything before 7.30 will be considered coming early and 8 would be just fine.
We walk a few minutes to a nearby restaurant for dinner - it is an all you can eat and drink for 2.500 yen which is a pretty sweet deal I think. And a great thing is the ordering are left to people who can actually read the menus instead of just guessing what might be on the menu. The food is generally good except a Japanese style pizza where they seemed to have forgotten to quite kill the ingredients on the pizza before serving it. But it tasted ok anyways.
We leave the restaurant to go to a bar - the main reason for choosing this particular bar seems to be Chris know the owner and can talk to him in his native aussie language - and oh yeah get free beers. We stay for a while but it seems like there is a midnight curfew on most Japanese - midnight is the moment when the subway stops the service for the night - hence we all break up just before midnight and go towards the different stations. I walk along to Namba station - which is not actually next to my hotel but a station away but - hey might as well I got nothing better to do with the night. Then saying goodbye at the station I head back towards my own station - or that was what I thought I was doing - it turns out my orientation has been suffering a bit - I don’t know if it is the beers or the fact I have actually never been at this spot before - but I make a wrong turn and walk towards a wrong station. Hence I end up doing a kind of a loop before I manage to find my way to my hotel - but a nice evening stroll are always good to freshen up after a few beers.