大 = Big
阪 = Hillside
市 = City
Famous for being the capital city of the Osaka Prefecture and the second largest metropolitan area in Japan. It is also among the largest cities in the world with over 19 million people living here.
There is not a lot to see here by ways of traditional Japanese buildings or gardens. Osaka was pretty heavily attacked during WWII which is probably one of the reasons that it is now quite a new city with modern buildings.
There is one part of Osaka however that has been kept in perfect condition – the Osaka Castle.
But before I show you any of this, we need to navigate our way through one of Osaka’s biggest train/subway stations/shopping centre/underground tunnel of lost hope….. We got in ok, but getting around and then out again needed careful map reading, assistance from locals and snacks.
We eventually worked it all out and made our way to the subway line we were after and stood at this sign on the platform. They have women only carriages during peak hour to try an protect women from all the groping that goes on when people are packed in like sardines.
We managed the subway like a couple of professionals and found our way here…
The rain last night had done a bit of damage to the flowering sakura, but there was still plenty there that were hanging on to their blooms.
The river was lined with stall after stall of all kinds of food.
And again – most things are rammed onto sticks.
The crowd, as always doesn’t disappoint.
Even our furry friends have come along – this one wearing his best Spiderman coat.
Unfortunately smoking has not yet been banned in Japan (well in Osaka anyway) around food preparation. Here you can just ash away over whatever you are cooking.
These are called Okonomiyaki – apparently it’s delicious, but overtime we’ve seen them, we’re not hungry. They are noodles, cabbage, vegetables, egg and bacon/mystery meat and then fried up.
Or you can just have some occy on a stick!
These are a fantastic idea – instead of using chairs and having to unpack and pack them up each day…. you just have long tables and then put a short one on the top.
And people take their shoes off and sit on the lower table like it’s the floor – genius!
Now, this was a strange thing. We first past a lady witting behind a tank with very shallow water filled with goldfish. At first we thought she was selling them. Then we passed another lady with the same set up and then another and another. The last one had some customers and this lady in the pic below was flicking the fish into a bowl. We weren’t sure whether she was going to take them home or if it was a game where she had to try and catch the black ones with the big eyes or what? There was a bit of cheering going on as she flicked each one, but we walked on – still confused.
Then we passed the same set up, but with tadpoles……. ?
We’d been walking for a fair while and it wasn’t until we’d come to the end of the markets that I checked the map and realised that we’d completely walked past the entrance to the Osaka Mint garden – which was open to the public for one week a year – when the cherry blossoms are out and today was the first day. So we got to an entrance and even though I could understand the Japanese sign for no entry, we snuck in anyway because – too hard.
Look at our pretty flower
There’s going to be lots of cherry blossom photos now, enjoy!
The carpet of petals was so pretty.
And make for a lovely backdrop.
You’ve got your double blossom…
Then you’ve got your triple blossom with buds.
This is us walking the wrong way around the garden!
It was a little bit like that nursery rhyme:
As I was going to St Ives
I met a man with seven wives
Every wife had seven sacks
Every sack had seven cats
Every cat had seven kittens
Kittens, cats, sacks and wives
How many were going to St Ives?
The answer: one – all the rest were going the other way!
This lady caught me by surprise and I had to be quick to snap a pic as I strolled past her.
She’s got sakura hair. Good on her.
Jenny moonlighting as a hand model.
With all the photos and checking of the map on my phone today my battery ran down pretty quickly, but luckily I had packed my specially purchased sakura designed external battery. I think it goes nicely with the surroundings.
We managed to reach another bridge down the river and crossed over to the other side where we came across this beautifully designed building, that even the cherry blossom at the front had trouble making it pretty. The people who lived there would have had an awesome view of the river and the cherry blossom trees though.
And now for something a little arty.
Our first Japanese cat spotting. He was a little unsettled by us – I think it was Jenny’s blonde hair.
There were Hanami parties going on all up and down the river.
And lots of people just walking around and admiring…. I was very lucky to snap a shot with nobody in it (besides those 2 in the bottom corner)
Until somebody stepped into the shot – and 1…2…3… turn and pose.
After some awesome map reading skills and some asking people, we finally made it to the walls of the Osaka Castle. It is surrounded by an outer moat and an inner moat – talk about upping your security!
The walls are also adorned with the blossoms which probably served to distract any attackers with their loveliness – although that would only have worked for about a week to 10 days in April.
This our first proper glance at the castle. It stands very high up on a hill and is quite majestic.
Their website calls it: “Osaka Castle -a symbol of Osaka, which has been handed down through the dramas in history to the present day.”
You can climb to the top level, but ……
Do you think this man could have found a more public spot to have his midday nap in full suit and tie?
This morning we asked the lady at reception what there was to see in Osaka. She started telling us about all the wonderful shopping centres. So when we asked about something more traditionally Japanese, she screwed up her nose and said, “No, we only have buildings and shopping, you have to go to Kyoto or Nara for old buildings.”
So now that we’d seen Osaka’s only transitional things (that we know of), we were ready to go home for a nice cup of tea and good lay down with the feet up.
On the journey to find the subway again, I noticed this tree which is right on the road and in front of what would have been the driveway of a high rise building. But they didn’t knock it down to make way for the drive way, they built the drive way around it and just let it be.