Osaka is Japan’s second city and lively place to stay. Japan has a fascinating and special culture different than other other countries, and a travel to Osaka will leave a nice impression of Japan.
Even though my trip was quite short, I had the chance to explore Osaka and Kyoto in these days. In the night, Osaka really comes alive, and a walk through the bright lights of the Nanba district and have an authentic Japanese dinner.
During spring time, you will admire many cherry blossom trees which look outstanding for photography. I have been in Osaka in May, and unfortunately I was too late to experience the cherry blossoms.
Osaka Castle is well worth a visit despite being a reconstruction as the original was burnt down at the end of World War Two.
The construction of Osaka Castle started in 1583 on the former site of the Ishiyama Honganji Temple, which had been destroyed thirteen years earlier. Toyotomi Hideyoshi intended the castle to become the center of a new, unified Japan under Toyotomi rule. It was the largest castle at the time. However, a few years after Hideyoshi’s death, Tokugawa troops attacked and destroyed the castle and terminated the Toyotomi lineage in 1615. Osaka Castle was rebuilt by Tokugawa Hidetada in the 1620s, but its main castle tower was struck by lightening in 1665 and burnt down. It was not until 1931 that the present ferro-concrete reconstruction of the castle tower was built. During the war it miraculously survived the city wide air raids. Major repair works gave the castle new glamor in 1997.
Osaka Time capsule
One of the two Expo ’70 Time Capsules made to commemorate the Osaka Expo in 1970 was opened for the first time in 30 years in March 2000.
The time capsules are intended for leaving to mankind 5,000 years into the future contained 2,098 items that had been specially selected as cultural artifacts as of 1970. Created out of a collaboration between Panasonic and The Mainichi Newspapers, the time capsules had been buried in Osaka Castle Park.
There are two time capsules with identical content, one buried 10 meters deep underground, the other 15 meters. The time capsule unearthed this time, the one buried 10 meters underground, was to be inspected in the year 2000 and then once a century thereafter. The other time capsule is to be opened in the year 6870.
Of the 2,098 items in the time capsule unearthed, 173 items were inspected. Though some of the bacteria samples had perished, the rice cooker and television set worked normally. In addition, the experimental plant seeds had sprouted and most of the other items had been kept in the same state and working condition they were in when first placed in the capsule.
After the inspection completed, the capsule was buried again in November. The next time it will be opened and inspected is the year 2100.
Dotonbori is an entertainment district of Osaka. A former pleasure district, today it’s famous for neon lights and crowds of tourists. At night, Dotonbori is going to be very busy, prepare to queue for your street food and most delicious restaurants. The facades of the restaurants are covered with giant sea creatures and images with light.
Dozens of restaurants are located at the Dotomborigawa River, and large famous billboards draw attention. Shops in the area are locked in a race to have the most outlandish store front. This race has been going on since the 1930s and has produced some interesting results.
Shitennoji Temple is one of Japan’s oldest temples and the first ever to be built by the state. It was founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku, who supported the introduction of Buddhism into Japan. Although the temple’s buildings burned down several times throughout the centuries, they were always carefully reconstructed to reflect the original 6th century design.
Standing at 300 meters, Abeno Harukas in Osaka is the tallest skyscraper in Japan. The observation deck is called “Harukas 300” and occupies the building’s top three floors (floors 58 to 60). The observation deck is accessed by elevators from the 16th floor. With large floor-to-ceiling glass panels all around, the 60th floor offers 360 degree views of Osaka, while the 58th floor features an attractively designed inner court with a wooden deck and cafe. A souvenir shop and restrooms with views are also available.
Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel Experience an amazing view from the tallest building in Japan same building as Abeno Harukas.. All 360 guest rooms feature floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooks the magnificent city. Indulge in Western or Japanese cuisine on the 57th floor and enjoy breathtaking views
How to get there: From Osaka’s Kansai International Airport, there is direct by train to the JR Tennoji Station, on the doorstep of the renowned Abeno Harukas building of Osaka.
Famous snack in Osaka, Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour based batter and cooked in a special molded pan. It is typically filled with minced or diced octopus, tempura scraps, pickled ginger and green onions.
Day trip from Osaka to Kyoto
Fushimi Inari Shrine (Fushimi Inari Taisha) in southeast Kyoto is one of Japan’s best known Shinto shrines, and a World Heritage Site. Fushimi Inari is famous for its tunnels of more than 10,000 closely-spaced orange torii gates that wind over the hills of Mt. Inari beyond the entrance to the shrine.
Inari, the Shinto god to whom the site is dedicated, is the patron of business as well as the god of rice. Traditionally worshiped by Japanese merchants and manufacturers, Inari has dozens upon dozens of torii gates donated to him by various Japanese individuals and corporations. Each torii gate is inscribed on the back with the donor’s name, business and year. The donation value varies depending on the size of the gate.
You can also send your wishes to Inari, or pay for fox head prayer tablets.
Kyoto is a well preserved old city, with wooden houses and narrow alleyways. Home to 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites, over 1,600 Buddhist temples and 400 Shinto shrines, this ancient city shows the heart and soul of traditional Japan.
Kenninjiis a Zen temple located just south of Kyoto`s famous Gion geisha district. The temple serves a s one of the head temples of the Rinzai Sect of Japanese Buddhism, and is ranked third among the five great Zen temples of Kyoto.
Kenninji was founded by Eisai (also known as Yosai), the Buddhist monk who introduced both Zen Buddhism and tea cultivation to Japan upon returning from study trips to China. The temple was constructed in 1202 and is considered to be the oldest Zen temple in Kyoto.
Nishiki Market is a narrow, five block long shopping street lined by more than one hundred shops and restaurants. Known as “Kyoto’s Kitchen”, this lively retail market specializes in all things food related, like fresh seafood, produce, knives and cookware, and is a great place to find seasonal foods and Kyoto specialties, such as Japanese sweets, pickles, dried seafood and sushi.
Why not experiencing renting and getting dressed in a kimono or yukata (during the summer) in the Gion District of Kyoto?
Great cultural experiences are waiting for you in Japan, why not exploring….