If you missed the last couple of posts, we're currently on a new journey through Japan with my family and Sean, traveling from Tokyo to Osaka! Since we've been here before but it's my relatives' first time we had to bring them to all the popular spots we visited previously already, but it's all good.
Last week, we finished our long and exciting day by shopping! And we visited the Pokemon Center and a surprise Snoopy pop-up store that was setup to celebrate Snoopy's 50th anniversary!
22 December 2017. Friday.
After a long and pretty exhausting day, we woke up a little later than usual and headed down to breakfast in the hotel before setting off to our special tourist spot today - Osaka Castle!
If you've been to Osaka castle before, you'd know it's quite a walk away from the nearest station.
Source: Google Maps
I don't remember which station we alighted at but it's probably either Temmabashi or Morinomiya.
But eventually, we made it to where we could see the castle!
I like how this canal was literally separating Osaka Castle Park from the more modern, urbanised part of the city. It was like a separation of time periods or something! I wish I could take a full shot of both sides though, but you probably need a drone for that or something.
But we headed in to Osaka Castle Park and started making our way towards the castle itself!
I bet these trees would look nice in the Spring, but there's something about them in the Winter that has a quiet beauty too.
We even saw an owl just chilling on the ground looking all majestic and tough. It looked like a barn owl but it seemed pretty awake at almost noon in the daytime.
It was a pretty sunny day outside today so it wasn't too cold. Only when the wind blew in your face could you feel the cool breeze.
When we were about to cross the castle threshold, we noticed the raked leaves outside were put into such neat piles! And they actually looked like shapes or words! I mean just look at that face!
But the weather was pretty much perfect other than the slight warmth of the sun. Not a single cloud was in the sky!
We even got to see some tourists enjoying a leisurely boat ride at it glides across the surface of the moat.
The sun was pretty bright though, but I tried my best to take some good photos.
Of course there were plenty of other tourists here, but thankfully Osaka Castle Park is super spacious so it wasn't as claustrophobic as Fushimi-Inari Taisha at least.
Man, what a view! From here the trees just look so neat.
Sorry for the blurriness, but I was trying out some filters.
So after taking a lot of photos, we started the "hike" up to the castle! I say "hike" since it's not too far away but it is quite an uphill climb and can be pretty steep.
I mean just look at that incline. But also what a majestic look at this exquisite Castle! It really fits the name that's for sure.
Just a little background info, but there is a reason why Osaka Castle looks so new and modern, despite it being a historical landmark. It was initially constructed in 1583 by a Japanese military general named Toyotomi Hideyoshi, but was destroyed a few years after his death. It was then rebuilt in the 1620s, but the main castle tower was struck by lightning in 1665 and burnt down. Then in 1931, it was rebuilt again and miraculously managed to survive the air raids during the war. The castle went through major repair works in 1997 to turn it into what it is today; completely modernised with an elevator for easier access as well. (Cr: Japan-Guide)
You can see the elevator much better from the front angle:
But I honestly think it doesn't really suit the image of the castle itself, since it's such a stark contrast in architecture styles.
There was a guy performing in front of Osaka Castle for everyone, doing party tricks like juggling and magic.
And soon enough, a huge crowd of tourists gathered around just watching him. It was actually pretty impressive to be honest. And he could do all sorts of tricks too!
Seany and I just stood there watching his show until it ended, while we waited for my relatives to look around the Castle. Since we'd already been here there wasn't really much else for us to look at.
This was the guest house that was built for ambassadors to stay in but I think it became a museum. It kinda looks like those European colleges though.
Here's a closer look:
There was also a very nice Japanese garden not too far from the Castle.
I guess there were a lot of people trying to make money off tourists here, because there was a costume rental shop of sorts where you could dress up like a shogun?
There was a huge stone gate here that I guess led out to the other side of the park.
And we started making our way out of the park after my family had gotten a good look around the Castle.
So we bade farewell to Osaka Castle and headed back to the station through the other side of the park.
And there was this "tunnel" made entirely by tree crowns! And they looked even cooler without their leaves.
This was the view of all the plum trees, that would sprout cherry blossoms in the spring! What a pretty sight that would be..
We enjoyed a nice stroll out of the park, basking in the cool afternoon sun.
We even saw some cute duckies swimming the moat!
Eventually we made it back to Dotonbori, and since my family was getting antsy around lunchtime, we convinced everyone to try out Lotteria! They're not too big fans of fast food, but I told them it was good and definitely worth giving a try.
And we even tried different burgers this time! I think this was a beef burger with egg or something, but it tasted pretty good!
This Lotteria had pretty unconventional seating, with solo tables lining the walls of the narrow outlet, but everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Then after that the ladies just wanted to go shopping so we brought them around the different shops in Dotonbori and saw a couple of odd things.. like this humongous shoe!
But we ended up going to Skechers and getting some winter boots that were on sale! Nice!
A few hours later, night had fallen so it was time for dinner!
And we ended up eating at an izakaya again, according to my uncle's choice. And as expected, the service was pretty subpar, and the food was mainly snacks and finger food.. like this okonomiyaki:
And this skewer of something..
And this small plate of beef:
Yeah imagine 8 people sharing these pathetic portions. smh.
After that, Seany and I went to get some real food at Sukiya! I ordered the curry rice:
And Sean ordered their winter special hotpot, that actually looked so good!
It even came with a side of rice and an egg.
My curry was pretty standard, but I remember Sean's udon hotpot was really tasty and savoury!! It was a tad spicy but not too overpowering or unbearable. Just the right amount of spice, and the udon was thick and chewy too. Definitely not something you'd expect from Sukiya but a very delicious and pleasant surprise!
After that we were all beat from shopping so we retired early, especially since the next day we would be flying off! So after packing and going to enjoy the onsen one last time, we gathered and reflected/toasted to an awesome and enjoyable holiday together!
23 December 2017. Saturday.
My relatives would be taking a different flight than us since they were flying back to Kuala Lumpur and I think they had an earlier flight too, so they headed off while we could relax and enjoy our breakfast at a slightly later hour.
There was definitely less people this morning, since I think a huge tour group had checked out and left, and also it was pretty late into the morning already.
But there was still quite the selection though.
And I ended up getting eggs 3 ways at the omelette station!
Before heading to the airport though, my mum wanted to get more lunch after doing some last minute packing and checking out of the hotel. And I suggested we eat Sushi Zanmai one last time! Of course I ordered Seany and my favourites - salmon and anago nigiri sushi!
My mum also ordered the special Sushi Zanmai salad, which was actually pretty good, ngl. Especially for someone who doesn't like salads, this was pretty tasty and I did enjoy it.
Then we headed to the airport!
It was all very nicely decked out for the festive Christmas season!
And unfortunately, that's all I have for this series! I hope you enjoyed coming along on our journey as Sean and I acted at tour guides for my mum and extended family. It was actually pretty stressful having to account for soe many people. And we were quite exhausted every single day, so much so that coming back to Singapore was quite the relief. But holidays were supposed to be relaxing so it didn't really feel like much of holiday after all..
All in all though, it was still pretty fun bringing my cousins around Japan since they've always wanted to go and never had the chance to until now! And all thanks to Sean! I'm so glad Sean got me into loving Japan as well and now it's become our #1 favourite travel destination! I can't wait to go back again, when it's finally safe to do so..
Thanks so much for reading and tune in next week to see where we traveled to next! I still have quite a few trips to share and I can't wait to bring you on another journey!
To find out more about me, check out my intro post here!