After an excellent night’s sleep we indulged in a breakfast of eggs, bread, pastries, juice and black tea. At Ebisucho station we purchased a Sunday day pass for unlimited use of the subway for only 600¥. Our first destination was Osaka castle. It was in the middle of a massive park. We followed the steady flow of pedestrian traffic until we came to the moat and outer walls.
As we looked at an information board a uniformed man approached us and explained he was a volunteer guide. He showed us some diagrams and told us about how the castle walls had been built.
This stone was the fourth biggest and was about 80cm thick.
As we passed through the Sakuramon Gate on one of the inner walls we were again approached by another volunteer guide. He started to show us the biggest stone in the wall and how it had been constructed. We thanked him and told him another guide had already explained the building process to us. From there the castle was clearly visible. Although it is a reconstruction from the 1930s it certainly looked the part.
The guy in costume was available for ‘free’ photos if you took your own or the photographic company would sell you theirs.
We decided to keep moving closer to the castle. However another group in armour were encouraging visitors to be photographed with them, no strings attached. So we quickly jumped in for a photo.
We continued to walk around the castle and then out through one of the inner gates and over a bridge with the moat beneath. Here we noticed you could board a traditional boat for a guided trip along the moat.
We continued walking along the paths around the castle gardens. Lots of groups of picnickers were enjoying the sunny day.
From there we took the subway nearer to the city centre. There is an island in the middle of the river with gardens, paths, cafes etc. After walking along for a while we came to the expansive rose garden. Quite beautiful.
We sat there eating our picnic lunch and looking at the boats travel along the river.
After lunch we kept walking and happened upon an art exposition by young talented artists.
Not long after there was a children’s activity area. Osakans certainly like to get out and about and be involved.
At the end of the island we made our way to the subway again. Our next stop was a 1300 year old temple. Described as hidden in plain sight in the middle of skyscrapers was pretty apt. However after asking for directions we found it.
Intriguingly it was the site of a Japanese Romeo and Juliet story with a similarly tragic ending. Apparently Ohatsu and her lover Tokubei committed suicide there in 1703.
From there we took the subway to the Shin-Osaka station just to familiarise ourselves with the layout for when we would be coming back in peak time two days later. Whilst walking through we noticed a girl at a food stand making one of the local delicacies, octopus balls. We stopped to take a closer look and she gave us quite a performance. Clearly she’d made the odd thousand or so in the past!
I purchased some and we took them back to our apartment for a late afternoon snack. Really yummy!
After resting for a while we made our way on the subway. To the nearby Dotombori area, a great restaurant and nightlife area. It was very busy, lots of lighting and advertising signs. Eventually we left the main streets and found a lovely little restaurant making another local delicacy, Okonomiyaki. It was a very thin restaurant with a bar with seating for about a dozen adjacent to a large grill area where the chef was cooking. We were the only non Japanese there. We ordered from an English menu. Drinks arrived quickly but the cooking of our Okonomiyaki dinner was a sideshow; actually it was the main event. When they arrived they were on a small steel hot plate and we received a cutting tool as well as chopsticks.
Really delicious is a description which doesn’t really describe our eating experience but it will have to suffice. As we paid we had a brief chat with the chef. From there it was back on the subway to our apartment. It had been a really interesting and varied day.