Being from Scotland I am somewhat spoiled when it comes to castles given that Scotland has some of the most beautiful castles I have seen before. However as our trip continued we traveled to Osaka and a visit to Osaka Castle.
The Castle is one of the most famous in Japan, however I was quite surprised at how small it was! However for what it lacks in size it more than makes up for it in beauty. Coming off the subway you arrive right at the entrance of the Castle’s park. The park is beautiful and full to the brim of every kind of dog you can imagine…. many in fancier outfits than what I had on!! The park was really nice just to walk around in the morning sun and take in the sites. It wasn’t long before the castle came into view. The castle sits high up on a hill on top of a massive mound of rocks which if you took them away would leave it very small…. it is not your typical kind of castle… looks almost more like a palace.
As we walked up we decided that we might as well go in, walking into the castle we decided to walk up the eight flights of stairs rather than get the lift. The inside of the castle has all been renovated and stripped of what it used to look like, instead it is more of a museum. It would be interesting if this was a side part to the castle as I was expecting to see what the castle looked like back in its heyday! What we got instead was pictures on the walls in glass cases and the whole place given a super ultra modern feel. All of the 8 floors was like this and I couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed. The view from the top was very pretty if not incredibly busy!
The highlight of the castle however was on the first floor where for 300 yen (about $3) you could dress up as a samurai including the swords, robes and impressive hats! Andy and I mucked about pulling funny poses and faces while the lady snapped away and within a minute the quite table was packed with people wanting their pictures taken as well… just call us rent a mob! I had read before hand that the park with views of the castle was just as impressive and I actually have to agree. Beautiful on the outside but stripped on the inside of its character.
We left the castle and made our way to Shitennō-ji temple, one of the oldest temples in Japan founded in 593. We spent our time walking around the temple and I was surprised how busy it was! It was packed with people all making prayers. It was a very beautiful and also strangely peaceful despite the crowds.
We took off and headed to Namba, the main shopping district as I was in search of a new phone! The shopping in Japan I can only describe as what it is like to shop on Christmas Eve when the shops have been closed for a month before hand! It was crazy! There were so many people that to just try to cross the street was a mission in its self!
Needless to say I didn’t find a phone that could be used out with Japan but we did see hundreds of Game card shops, and not for little kids but for grown adults. I am not sure how you play them (or if you just collect them?) However they sell all these different cards with characters on and the shops were full of adults trying to increase their collection. Was strange! Along with the card shops there were comic book shops full of ‘Anime’ (Japanese animation) with huge posters of the female (cartoon) characters down the entire length of the building… now I am not talking about a tiny store but a multi-level store full of comics, games, dolls and all sorts of things! Walking down the street we also bumped into loads of cos-play girls (Girls in costume) trying to get you to come into their store to buy coffee… I think!! Was quite a strange experience!
With sore feet (and in Andy’s case a sore back!) we headed home to refresh to our room which was the size of a double bed (literally!) before heading back out to Dotonburi, the night life area in Osaka. We walked around visiting all different arcades which were EVERYWHERE we went with hundreds of slot machines, claw games and video games. Our favorite one to watch was the dance machine (which is more hi-tech than I remember!) and watched as one guy showed us just how serious gaming can get with an impressive array of dance moves in time to the music!! Watch the video below… Kudos to him!
We set out on a quest to find Space Station… a bar ranked number 2 on trip advisors of places to visit in Osaka and it took us about an hour to find it!! Just as we were about to give up we saw the sign in a street we had overlooked.
This is a cool place. It is a small bar owned by an American who had collected hundreds of games for all different computers such as the Nintendo, N64 and X-box along with other ones that I didn’t know! Andy and I sad drinking cocktails while playing the Super Mario brothers I remember playing when I was tiny with my brother. Was quite nostalgic! We played all different games on all different consoles and let of some steam after a day of walking and the days trip to Hiroshima. Was a cool way to finish the day ready for Universal Studios the next day!!