This is the second part of my Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe Trip, a continuous from previous post.
On the third day, we finally had the chance to explore Osaka by train. Of course, Japan has an efficient train system, but it’s a bit tricky. In Osaka alone, the train network is built upon a combination of Subways, Japan Railway (JR) line, and a few of privately-owned railways line. And these lines are connected at some point, making most area in Osaka accessible by train.
We bought Osaka Amazing Pass for 1 day for 2300 yen. This pass gives us unlimited use of subways and city buses. But it not just that! We also get free or discounted admission to various tourist attractions!
Today's first stop was Osaka Castle. The garden just outside of the castle area is known as Nishinomaru Garden. There’s a lot of Sakura here too, so I was truly happy as I haven’t had enough of Sakura just yet!
The castle itself stands magnificently on rock mount surrounded by moats and stone walls. The original castle has actually been destroyed and what stands now is a reconstruction. The interior is completely rebuilt and now it has been converted into a museum, housing a different showcase explaining the history of the Hideyoshi era, one of the greatest Samurai in history. With a comprehensive collection such as dioramas of Hideyoshi Toyotomi’s life, miniature models of the Summer War of Osaka, and a folding screen telling the story of the battles fought - by the end of the tour, I was pretty much samurainized~
Too bad they don't allow taking picture inside the castle. But one that left a big impression for me was the Samurai’s armour used during the era. It was somewhat creepy but fascinating at the same time. I couldn't look at the scary-looking mask for too long without having goosebumps. Well, they were made to be frightening, to scare the enemy. But the armour was a fine work of art. It seems like iron mongers, fabric expert, metal crafters and painters works together to create this stunning work piece. Just amazing.
|No, no, this is not the real Samurai armour like I've mentioned above;|
just a worker doing his job in samurai costume :D
We spent quite sometimes here, taking time reading the summary of everything we could understand. It was a blessing in disguise that there wasn’t much written in English, otherwise we could be spending half a day here. I found the life story of Hideyoshi was quite intriguing, how he rose from a commoner to a ruler.
And on the top floor of the museum, you can get outside to have a nice view of Osaka and the park beneath. For a while, I could imagine how it feels to be a king, watching over my own province and planning which region we should conquer, hehe. And this is the place where you can get a close-up look of the gilded shachihoko, a mythical creature, a fish with the head of a tiger.
And oh, there is also an area where you can dress up in a kimono, try on a Samurai helmet (look like the kind of what Lady Gaga had for red carpet) or some armour and then have your photo taken. But we had to let it pass.
|Why in the world did I not capture even one picture of shachihoko? T__T|
|Japanese bride and groom doing a ritual|
After touring the castle, we had a taste of yummy Tako before we head to our next stop: Dotonbori! Dotonbori is a long shopping street, aligned with so many eateries, arcades and shops. It’s a busy, noisy, grubby-looking area; always full with people. Totally a hot spot for foodie and shopper. Although I was told that I could get cheaper stuff here, but the price is still a bit pricey for me T__T Nevertheless, Dotombori is a must visit place and I wish I could come at night too, just to see Osaka nightlife under those neon lights, heh.
|Compulsory picture spot: Glico's running man!|
We tried the Okonomiyaki here: Japanese savoury pancake or Japanese pizza. The base consists of shredded cabbage and batter, added with variety of ingredients like seafood or meat, and then cooked on an iron griddle ("teppan"). Then topped with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, shaving of smoked bonito “katsuobushi” and a sprinkle of dried seaweed. Delicious!
|Our seafood Okonomiyaki! Yum!|
Next, with a full stomach, we did the Dotombori River Cruise. The cruise took us to see all the landmarks building along the river. The tour guide, though I couldn’t understand a word he said, I could tell that he was funny since other people were laughing every time he speaks. Honestly, it could be a bit boring but remember that happiness spread like disease? The crowd were sporting especially when we were asked to do a series of clap at the end of the cruise. So I guess it was pretty fun? :D
Since we didn’t get to ride the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, we compensate it with Hep5 Ferris Wheel. I know it will be nothing compared to the Tempozan’s but since we got to ride it for free, so why not? The ferris wheel is located at the top of the building, which makes it more exciting when you reach the top of the wheel. The view was okay but not spectacular. Life is too good here, there’s nothing that can disappoint me too much. Then, we went for a round of bowling (yes, yes, this is random I know) and dinner to conclude the day.
|Hep5 Ferris Wheel and the view|
On the fourth day,
my poor legs were dying because something happened to Mr H’s wifey, Mieyra
and I had to explore the city by train, just the two of us. It was unexpecting,
but lucky we had learnt how the train system works here just yesterday, so it
was not a problem. Rather than worrying about getting lost, I was really
excited and was mentally and physically prepared. We decided to go to
Shitennoji Temple. Getting on the right train was easy but figuring out which
exit you should take when we had to switch lines was tricky. But thanks to
Mieyra’s basic Japanese (important word here: migi = right, hidari = left, doko
= where) and poof, we were at the temple.
|Managed to reach Shitennoji 's neighborhood, victory!|
Shitennoji is the oldest temple administered in Japan (build in 593) but of course it has been rebuilt over the centuries, so it doesn't look that old. The temple complex is big with five story pagoda in the center. People say it was overrated (we took it off our itinerary because of the bad review on internet), but I personally thought that the temple is beautiful. And it was interesting how well they preserved the area in contrast with the urban city that surrounding it.
|The main pagoda|
And then we got a call from Mr H that his wifey is alright and that we could proceed with our original itinerary which is Kobe! The drive from Osaka to Kobe took us about 40 minutes on the crooked road. This city is known for its urban development, so it’s no surprised that our view was filled with somewhat European style of housing and buildings.
We first went up to Mount Rocco, to the Rocco Garden Terrace. It is a complex facilities consisting of cafe, restaurants, small shops and observation deck to view Kobe city. Near the area, there is a unique-looking observatory spot called Rokko-Shidare Observatory. It is a work of art and was designed by an architect, Hiroshi Sambuichi. Inside the observatory, there was a path spiraling down to a wind room with an opening in the ceiling and a small pool of water. Honestly, I was far away from understood (I'm not even trying!) the whole point of the wind room (and how the whole system work for that matter!) while I was at it, so I was looking at the details halfheartedly /sigh/. But check this fact out:
“The water collected here in the summer and autumn months will freeze in the winter. The ice will then be cut into small blocks and transported into the core of the building, where it is placed in small airtight compartments under the seats of a bench. Here it will stay throughout the summer, cooling the hot air, whilst slowly melting and dripping into small pools carved in the stone floor. Finally, it will evaporate back into the atmosphere, closing the circuit.” (www.arcspace.com)
So this explains why there was a pool of water in the wind room! And also the fact that the outer structure is comprised of numerous metal hexagons, designed to attract frost in the winter to give the image of a frosted leaf. Coolio~
|At Rocco Garden Terrace|
|On one of the observatory spot with Mr H|
|In the wind room|
Next, we leave the mountain to visit Kobe Mosque. The mosque is the first one built in Japan, built in 1928 and opened in 1935. It survived the bombing during World War II in 1945 and the great Kobe earthquake in 1995 that nearly flattened the whole city. We took the chance to perform Asar prayer here. It just feels so good to be in there....
Across the road is a grocery shop, Kitano Groceries Store, that stocks halal goods and a number of halal restaurants. We had our dinner at Naan Inn and it was amazing! If you know how it feels after few days consuming fish and seafood and sticky rice and dried seaweeds, there is no word to describe my feeling to finally having chicken for dinner. And it;s not just chicken, it’s Tandoori! It was a food fest for us!
|Siti Norhaliza was here in 2006!|
And finally, you can’t say you've been to Kobe unless you have a proof picture of Kobe Port Tower. Since it was already late, we head straight to Mosaic Shopping Complex. Why? Because it’s the best place to snap a picture with the tower in the background. And the scenery here at night is really beautiful. And it was good too that we came here with full stomach because there are a lot of restaurants here! If not, the seafood buffet dinner might be a little too hard to resist!
|At Kobe Harbour|
|One kawaii / flower face picture wouldn't hurt, hehe|
With the picture of Kobe Port Tower, we end our day four and head back to Osaka.
To be continued on the next post, my last day in Osaka! Till then, be good people!