9th July 2012: Osaka, day 1 {Japan, summer 2012}

Monday 9th had me doing something I never thought I would do – riding a Tokyo train during rush hour, and survived too!

My first destination was Shinagawa station to catch the Hikari Shinkansen bound to Osaka [大阪]. With a speed of almost 300 km/h, the Hikari Shinkansen covered the 454 km between Tokyo and Osaka in abuout three hours, with some stops in between, Nagoya being one of them.

A train station platform with the train arriving in the background. The train locomotive is white and looks like a duck bill

Upon arriving I headed towards the city’s Castle, Osaka-jō [大阪城]. There are no words to describe Osaka-jō, and no picture would make it justice. Have some that try anyway:

Osaka Castle. It stands on a rock base, and it has four floors. The roofs are green/grey and the main walls are white with golden decoration

Osaka castle from the side, showing the accessible lift for wheelchair users

View from the top of Osaka Castle. In the foreground there's the roof decoration, a gold fish-monster. In the background, Osaka highrises. In between the park and the moat

Next to the castle is the Hōkoku Jinja [豊國神社], which I visited too.

A severe grey torii in front of a white and green shrine building

Then I walked back to the castle to undo all the way towards the station – as some monuments close at 3pm I wanted to make sure to go in the tower museum. Now I had the chance to take pictures and explore. By chance I noticed some stairs by the edge of the park surrounding the tower so I climbed up to discover a mini temple to one side of the castle. The small statues symbolize dead or stillborn babies, and I find them incredibly creepy.

Inside a shrine grounds - a little fountain, a stone torii, and a number of small human-like statues wearing red bibs

I explored the area and went back to the main path to find the station and head off to Namba, where my hotel was. Now, Osaka has two main entertainment districts: Namba and Shin Sekai. Namba [難波], where I went, has the Glico man (which somehow I missed, mistaking it for this little shop) and the giant blowfish and crabs.

Giant snow crab adverstisement for a restaurant

Giant dragon advertisement for a ramen restaurant

A billboard of a man reaching the end line of an athletic course, raising his arms in victory. His shirt reads グルコ

In Namba I bought myself some takoyaki – octopus dumplins – for dinner from one of the street stands. This was one of my first interactions completely in Japanese, and I felt stupidly proud of it. And of course, the takoyaki were delicous, albeit scorching hot.

A box of six round dumplins covered with brown sauce

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