In the second weekend of my time in Japan, I did some very intensive travel. I started in Hiroshima, and on Saturday afternoon, I hopped over to Osaka. I took the rail directly into the center of town, dropped off my bag at the hotel, and immediately set out to see stuff.
One of the first things I checked out in Osaka was the Castle. On my way there, I walked past this building and I really wish I had paid more attention to what it is. All I know for sure is that it’s attached to the Osaka Historical Museum, the curved building to the left.
Osaka Castle is in a very large green space with ascending walkways spread out over fifteen acres. I wasn’t expecting the way to the castle to be quite so twisty. You walk through several large gateways to get there, and this was the first one. This is Otemon gate.
This charming fellow with the Samurai’s top-knot is Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the founder of the Edo period. He’s the ruler who built Osaka Castle. The original version of this statue was destroyed during World War II, and this one was remade in 1943.
I quite like these little Samurai guys.
This is the castle itself. According to local legend, Godzilla destroyed it in 1955 by pinning another giant monster against it. It has since been rebuilt.
Every once in a while, I have to stick myself in here so you can see that I was really there. Truly!
I kept walking through the grounds, past the keep, only to discover that the walkway to the castle from the other side was significantly less shorter. Much less scenic, however, until you get to this side, just past the moat.
With my mission to see Osaka Castle completed, my next task was to find Amemura, or Little America. “Amerikamura” was founded in the 1970s in Shinsaibashi, where it was a central place for the import of fashion from the United States. It has since become a place with a trendy nightlife, and a rather interesting blend of American culture into the area. I knew I was getting close when I saw this giant kitchsy bowling pin.
The most well-known landmark of Amemura is arguably a scale model of the Statue of Liberty atop one of the buildings.
This is how I knew for certain that I was in the right place, because there’s not really much else to indicate that you’re in Little America.
Before returning to the hotel for the evening, I had one more thing on my to-do list. I wanted to go to the Umeda Sky Building, sometimes referred to as the Floating Garden even though it isn’t really a garden. That tall building with twin towers in the center is the building in question.
When you get closer, you can almost see why it’s called the Floating Garden. Two tubes contain the escalator up to the very tall observation level.
At the top side of those escalator tubes is a round open-air observation deck with amazing views of Osaka’s skyline. While this isn’t taller than some of the other places I’ve been on this trip, it’s still pretty nifty.
“Over Macho Grande?” “I don’t think I’ll ever get over Macho Grande.”
I’ve pointed out Love Locks in Regensburg, Cologne, and Paris, and here they are again in Osaka.
I digress. Here’s the amazing view to the other side of the observation deck. If you look carefully, you can see my reflection near the center bottom, as I took this photograph.
Osaka contains over 19 million inhabitants, which makes it one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world.
It’s still not as crowded as Tokyo, though, or at least that’s how it feels.
I want to say that this is the Dojima-gawa river, but I have no clue if I’m reading the maps correctly. Pretty view, though, don’t you think?
By the time I was done at the Umeda Sky Building, I went back to my hotel room near the train station. I had a very nice room, and the view from my hotel room window was pretty nifty.
In the morning, I took a little side trip before getting on the train to the next destination. On that side trip, I happened upon a giraffe made of Lego. The building over the giraffe’s shoulder is the Osaka Aquarium, but that will be the next post.
Have you ever been to Osaka?