Sunday, May 4, 2014

Japan Golden Week - Osaka


Today, we woke up in the beautiful Osaka house of the Ohodo Family - Mai and Isamu have two boys and they live three story house in a quiet town.

After breakfast, we headed to Osaka Castle. To reach the castle compound, we have to alight at Osaka Castle Park (大阪城公園 Osaka-Jō-Kōen?) - it is a public urban park and historical site situated at Osaka-Jō in Chūō-ku, Osaka, Japan.

In the park, there's Osaka Castle Hall, a large athletic field, baseball field, football field, open air music theatre, open air concert hall and Osaka Castle Keep Tower.  As early as that morning, there were throngs of people queuing for a local concert that evening.

We were informed that some of these youngsters are going there to buy tickets from scalpers.

As we walked towards the castle, we notice a big moat, consisting of inner and outer moat.

Then the bridge to enter the castle compound.

The second entrance gate of the castle (inner moat)

The main tower of Osaka Castle is situated on a plot of land roughly one square kilometer.

The central castle building is five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside, and built atop a tall stone foundation to protect its occupants from attackers.

Since that week-end was holiday, there was a traditional comedic stage performance in-front of the castle.

There were also some locals in costume who are willing to have a photo taken with them.

There was a long queue of people going inside the castle, hence we were not able to enter since we still have several places to visit that day.

Next, we went to a popular area: Sinsekai.  This is where you can have a vantage view of the Osaka tower surrounded by the shops / restaurants around.

Shinsekai (新世界) is Osaka's "new world," a district that was developed before the war and then neglected in the decades afterwards. 

Tsutenkaku Tower was constructed in 1912 after Paris' Eiffel Tower.  Although it was scrapped during WWII, the tower was reconstructed soon afterwards in 1956. The current tower is 103 meters high, with the main observatory at a height of 91 meters.

At the district's center stands Tsutenkaku Tower, the nostalgia evoking symbol of Shinsekai.  Now the area is famous for this creative and attractive signboards of the restaurants and shops around.

The area was developed into its current layout following the success of the 1903 National Industrial Exposition, which brought over five million people to the neighborhood within just five months.   


Paris was chosen as the model for Shinsekai's northern half, while the southern portion was built to imitate Coney Island in New York. Next, we had food stop at a Tokoyaki shop.

Takoyaki (たこ焼き or 蛸焼?) is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special takoyaki pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus (tako), tempura scraps (tenkasu), pickled ginger, and green onion.

Takoyaki was first popularized in Osaka, where a street vendor named Tomekichi Endo is credited with its invention in 1935.  Takoyaki was initially popular in the Kansai region, and later spread to the Kantō region and other areas of Japan.
After eating the Takoyaki, majority of our group was dropped at Namba Shopping district for a free time of shopping.

I decided to be dropped at Yodobashi electric shop instead, because I need to buy my camera charger (since my first charger was left in Kyoto hotel) paid 3k yen for the new charger.

I was informed that the rest of the group will go to the Umeda Sky tower, hence I decide to just re-join the group in that area.

Walking around the Yodobashi vicinity, had some shopping, and took a proper lunch with this noodle shop:

Then roaming around other shopping malls, I also went in a Panasonic technology showroom but there was nothing much impressive to see.

Arriving at the meeting place, I was surprise to see a unique tower structure of  Umeda Sky building, the entrance to top is 700yen.


The Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル Umeda Sukai Biru) is the twelfth-tallest building in Osaka, Japan, and one of the city's most recognizable landmarks. 

Scale model of the Umeda Sky Building (above), and actual sky viewing deck (below),

It consists of two 40-story towers that connect at their two uppermost stories, with bridges and an escalator crossing the wide atrium-like space in the center. 

The building was mainly owned by Toshiba Corporation through Toshiba Building Co., Ltd. in July 2008.  On top, you can have a panoramic view of Osaka city :

Osaka used to be referred to as the "nation's kitchen" (天下の台所 tenka no daidokoro) in feudal Edo period because it was the center of trading for rice, creating the first modern futures exchange market in the world.

At night we had dinner with Ohodo family house, we cooked our own Takoyaki balls. After dinner, we joined the Ohodo family in the community public onsen, for a nice warm bath.  I love their hot bath with electric shock!

Looking forward for tomorrow's trip to Nara and Iga city.  Nara is famous for the biggest bronze Buddha, and Iga is where we met the real  NINJA!

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