Sunday, June 25, 2017

Osaka Adlaw, Osaka Ako sa Osaka

On the last day of our trip, we all went our separate ways: one was leaving on a morning flight, two were extending their stay and going to Nara, and I was left alone to wander around Osaka until my night flight. Thus the stupid title of this blogpost which is a play on Bisaya words: Usa ka adlaw, usa ka ako sa Osaka. In English, literally: One day, one me in Osaka. Haha!

Armed with only a small Osaka travel guide with printed maps (for this trip I didn't have a pocket WiFi, and because we had already checked out of our Osaka Airbnb apartment, I couldn't use the pocket WiFi anymore), I said goodbye to my friends and thanked them for a fun trip. I then took the JR Loop Line from Bentencho Station to Osaka Station where I deposited my bags in a coin locker. Then hopped on a JR train (I planned to take only JR trains as this was also the last day of validity of my JR Pass) to Osakajokoen Station.

Osaka Castle
9AM to 5PM (Last admission at 430PM)
Admission fee: 600 yen

Directions to Osaka Castle: Osaka Castle is a 15- to 20-minute walk from any of these stations:
  • Subway Tanimachi Line to Tanimachi 4-chome Station (exit 1B) or Temmabashi Station (exit 3)
  • Subway Chuo Line to Tanimachi 4-chome Station (exit 9) or Morinomiya Station (exit 1 or 3B)
  • Subway Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line to Osaka Business Park Station (exit 1) or Morinomiya Station (exit 3B)
  • JR Osaka Loop Line to Morinomiya Station or Osakajokoen Station
  • JR Tozai Line to Osakajokitazume Station
  • Keihan Like to Temmabashi Station or Kyobashi Station

From Osakajokoen Station, it was a couple minutes leisurely walk to Osaka Castle. It was November 7, autumn, and the trees around Osaka Castle Park were a beautiful mix of green, yellow, orange, and red. I slowed down my pace. But still I arrived before the castle doors opened. Which is good because I saw there was already a queue.

Aoya Gate

It started to drizzle

Almost there

Osaka Castle was built in 1583, but the present-day castle is a reconstruction, built in 1931. Today the castle serves as a museum. I paid the 600-yen admission fee through a ticket machine and started exploring the castle/museum from bottom to top.

The first two floors are about Osaka Castle. The 3rd and 4th floors (no photography allowed in these floors) are about Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the big gun who ordered the construction of Osaka Castle. On the third floor, one can find a full-scale replica of Hideyoshi's Golden Tea Room where everything, the room and the tea utensils, is in gold. The fifth floor exhibits scenes from the Summer War of Osaka. (The sixth floor is closed to the public.) The seventh floor tells about the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. And the eighth floor is an observation deck.

Summer War diorama

Model of Osaka Castle

Views from the observation deck

After browsing five floors of exhibits and admiring the 360-degree view of Osaka City from the topmost floor, I exited the castle and spent some time people-watching around the castle grounds. I traced my way back to JR Osakajokoen Station passing by food stalls, one setting up, the others empty. I wanted to try takoyaki (octopus balls) and was happy to find one ready for the eating just before I reached the station.

Food stalls haven't opened yet

Making takoyaki

Takoyaki, 400 yen

I still had a few hours before my flight and I looked at my map to see if there was anything interesting nearby or along a JR line. I saw Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai, Japan's longest shopping street running 2.6 kilometers, just two stops from Osakajokoen Station. I don't like shopping but I decided to check it out anyway.

Directions to Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai: Take the subway to any of these stations: Tenjinbashisuji 6-chome Station, Ogimachi Station, or Minami-Morimachi Station. Or take the JR Loop Line to Temma Station or the JR Tozai Line to Osakatenmangu Station.

Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai stretches southward from Tenjinbashisuji 6-chome Station to Tenjinbashi 1-chome. I entered the shotengai (shopping street) at JR Temma Station, at about a third of the shopping street's length. I walked southward where I saw shops of almost every kind: shops selling clothes, shoes, groceries, souvenirs, fruits, vegetables, candies. The entire length was covered by a translucent roof, protecting the shoppers from the elements and at the same time allowing enough light in.

Fruits and veggies for sale

One was bound to get hungry if he were to walk from end to end. But that is of no great concern, the shotengai had restaurants and food stalls every few meters. I had just eaten a bunch of takoyaki and all I could do was admire and drool at the food being cooked at every few dozens steps. At about half a kilometer, I decided I've had enough of window shopping and drooling at food stalls and went back to JR Temma Station.

What's cookin'?

Little did I know that this solo wandering was a precursor to a solo Kansai trip that would happen in a year.

Know Before You Go
Single Entry Tourist Visa for Japan
Roam Around Japan with a Swagger
An Ignoramus in Japan: Vending Machines
An Ignoramus in Japan: Bathrooms and Toilets
An Ignoramus in Japan: Manhole Covers
I Spy With My Little Eye: Japan's Fashion Contradictions
I Spy With My Little Eye: On the Go in Japan

From Tokyo to Hiroshima (2015)
10D/9N | Tokyo, Toyama, Kyoto, Hyogo, Osaka, Hiroshima
Tokyo Accommodation: Shinjuku Airbnb
Tokyo: Memorable Tokyo Eats
Tokyo: Odaiba
Tokyo: Doing Touristy Things in Tokyo
Toyama: A Hamlet Called Ainokura
Kyoto Accommodation: K's House Hostel Kyoto
Kyoto, Japanecdote: Wisdom from the Road: On exits #2
Kyoto: By the Thousands (Kyoto Imperial Palace, Sanjusangendo, Fushimi Inari Taisha, Arashiyama Bamboo Grove)
Kyoto, Japanecdote: Turning Japanese
Kyoto: Braving the Crowds at these UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Kyoto (Kiyomizu-dera, Nijo Castle, Kinkakuji)
Hyogo, Japanecdote: If Only I Could Speak Nihongo
Hyogo: Day Trip to Himeji: Himeji Castle and Shoshazan Engyoji Temple
Hyogo, Japanecdote: Am I an Alien?
Hiroshima: Strolling and Snacking in Miyajima
Hiroshima: Remembering the Past in Hiroshima
Osaka, Japanecdote: How to Lose Friends
Osaka Accommodation: Osaka Airbnb
Osaka, Japanecdote: Where is Bentencho Station?
Osaka: Osaka Adlaw, Osaka Ako sa Osaka (you're here!)
Osaka, Japanecdote: Learn From Your Mistakes

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