As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ll be staying at a friend’s house these next couple of days while we go sight seeing. Today, we went sightseeing around Osaka. We left my friend’s house around 11 and made our way to Sumiyoshi-Taisha, which is a shrine inside a park. From there we took a rail car to Shitennoji, another shrine. After that we made our way to Osaka castle and then ended the night at Umeda Sky Building.
Riding the Shinkansen to Osaka was pretty cool. We didn’t have any trouble getting a seat which was nice. The Shinkansen is a lot nicer than your regular train. It was even nicer than the plane I took to Japan! I had a lot more leg room, the seats were wider, and the seats reclined back pretty far. Obviously, it’s called the Bullet Train for a reason. There were only a couple stops between Tokyo and Osaka, so we went pretty fast. I was able to get some pictures, but some of the edges blurred simply because we were moving too fast. Although, unlike when you’re riding a rolling coaster, on the Shinkansen you couldn’t really tell just how fast you were moving. It was so smooth.
We got to Osaka pretty late in the evening, so we just went to my friend’s house where I met his parents, sister, and grandmother. We got settled in and then got ready for the next day. The cool thing is, despite the fact that this is my friend’s hometown, he hasn’t been to a lot of the places that are on my “want-to-go-list” so it will be an adventure for all of us. I really don’t have a whole lot to write about. Pictures can show my adventures so much better than words, so make sure to check out the photos at the end of this post.
The first stop of the day was Sumiyoshi-Taisha. It had a really cool red bridge that led to the entrance of the shrine. Once inside, my friend showed me how to ring the bell and pray (which involved clapping twice, bowing twice, and then bowing again after you’ve said your prayer). It also had a really nice garden area. The buildings all had the traditional style and there was a big pond right beside the building. In the pond were a whole bunch of turtles. They were so cute! Just outside the shrine on one of the statues, we found a cat fast asleep!
A big red gate led to the entrance of Shitennoji. Just inside the gate I was surprised to find a big flea market going on, but it was only for books. People were selling lots and lots of books! It’s too bad that I really can’t read Japanese too well. If they had been English books, I would have been super excited. Inside, they had a really big stone garden. I’ll admit that when I had been flipping through guide books, stone gardens had sounded kind of boring, but seeing it in person was pretty cool. It’s amazing how detailed some of the patterns are, although it’s often not reflected in pictures.
Osaka Castle is absolutely huge. The stone walls that surround the castle are at least three times as tall as I am, if not higher. The moat that surrounds the castle looks more like it could be a beautiful river. The outside of the castle is really beautiful with its white walls and gold trim. We started at the very top of the castle where we were able to get some cool pictures looking out over the city. Then we made our way down the several floors where they had exhibits about the history of the castle and some of the battles that occurred. Unfortunately though I wasn’t allowed to take any pictures of anything inside the castle. On the second floor, for ¥500 yen, we could try on replicas of some of the outfits.
Umeda Sky Buikding was also really awesome. It has 40 floors! We made our way up to the 35th floor where they had an observatory that gave us a 360 degree view of the city. That was absolutely beautiful. The city lights seem to extend all the way to the horizon. We walked around the “Floating Garden” which isn’t a real garden. It’s the outside portion of the observatory deck. The floor was lit up with neon and black lights so it made the whole thing look even cooler. After that we went back inside and sat at one of the tables by the window drinking coffee. I would totally love to work in an office building with that kind of view, haha. It’s pretty, that’s for sure, but there is something else about being up that high and looking out over the city. It inspires confidence. It makes me feel like I can take on the word.
It’s been a long day, but a fun one! I’m so glad I’ve been able to experience this and I look forward to the rest of my trip!