Osaka City is the second largest city in Japan. It is home to Osaka Castle, its main historical landmark. A trip to Japan isn’t complete unless you visit Osaka, at the very least, as it is considered the culture center of Japan.
Osaka is a 3-hour journey by bullet train from Tokyo. A one-way seat on a bullet train costs PhP 5,000.00 / USD 100.00. It is therefore economical to buy a JR pass. We got an unlimited JR pass for 7 days for PhP 12,220.00 / USD 244.4. This pass gets you access to all trains on the JR line, including buses and ferries all over the island of Japan. We got the schedule of train departures to Osaka ahead of time and woke up early for the 8am train.
With rush hour and our lazy pace, of course we missed it and got to Osaka at about 12 noon. The ride on the bullet train was very comfortable. Initially, it felt like riding a roller coaster, just watching the view outside buzz by at 320kmph. You get used to the speed and just learn to relax. The interiors of the shinkansen were squeaky clean. The bathroom was clean as well. As usual, the train had the usual techy movement sensor capabilities like in Tokyo.
We grabbed some lunch at the station. The restaurant was pretty good and offered a variety of Japanese food. We took one more train to Osaka station and we were off.
This place is a mere 3-minute walk from Osaka station. We got out of the train and braved the -1 degree Celsius weather. Osaka apparently is colder than Tokyo so prepare for the fickle weather by layering your clothes. At some point the sun came out and it became warm enough to take off my layers. But then a strong gust of wind and even rain came down and we were freezing once again. I advise you to prepare accordingly. Fortunately, we brought umbrellas after reading the weather forecast the night before.
We were greeted by large crowds. There was a graduation ceremony and the castle grounds were filled with college graduates celebrating. There were girls in their traditional Japanese outfits. The guys were in their dapper suits. It was a merry atmosphere. Osaka Castle main area is not difficult to find. There were a lot of food stalls in hawker style set up. There were families having picnics.
The castle grounds were vast. Better use comfy walking shoes. The walk up the castle itself was so high, we didn’t bother going. Being in the main castle grounds was enough. You get a view of the castle and a high perspective of Osaka castle set against a backdrop of urban Osaka. It was a cloudy day so photos are not so vivid.
An attempt at bargain hunting
Part of our itinerary was looking at bags at bargain prices at stores like Komehyo, brands off and others. Unfortunately, these places were a little hard to get to and we had limited time. We ended up at Daimaru, a department store. Prices there were steep. It was disappointing. We did find the bargain bags eventually at Nagoya, but more on that later.
Our day trip ended and we got takeout food, another vegetarian fare from a restaurant at the station. Japanese eat so healthy and it was contagious. I was getting used to eating healthy as well — very easy to do when 70% of food in your plate consists of vegetables.
We got back to the hotel at Tokyo by about 11pm. Tired but excited for the day trip the next day, to Kyoto.
20 something lawyer