Osaka Castle

Last 2 days in Japan : Fushimi Inari Shrine – Keihan City Mall & Osaka Castle

Happy New Year!

New year, new beginnings.. This post is long overdue now which is why I really need to publish this rather short  post.

We originally planned to go to Fushimi Inari Shrine and straight to Todaiji Temple after but ended up not going to Todaiji for it would be a long ride and long walk. Around lunch time we headed to Fushimi Inari Shrine. It was only a train ride from Temmabashi via the Keihan Line. We got off at the Fushimi Inari Station and walked for a few minutes.

View at the Keihan Line platform in Kyoto

You will be welcomed by this orange tori gate. You’ll definitely see a lot of orange here. I am not sure the reason behind the color and coming to think of it I need to do a google search.

We had lunch first before walking to the shrine. We had ramen coz basically that’s all most of the restaurants have there. I had a Tempura and fish soba noodles ramen with Inari sushi. The taste isn’t something worth mentioning but I really like the quality of the noodles. For the sushi, it taste a bit weird for it feels like I am eating spoiled rice because it is sour. Oh and this set meal cost me 1080 yen.

After lunch, we set ourselves to walk to the Inari shrine. There’s no entrance fee inside the shrine which made it more a worth going to place in Kyoto. The gates of the shrine is magnificent in orange guarded by foxes which I think serves as messenger to the Gods for them. The shrine has about 10,000 orange tori gates lined up across the hill. It’s a bit of a long walk up to the top which I haven’t had the chance to go up to. But they said and I saw from pictures that it is worth going to. This made me think that I really have to go back there too around November or April (I really have to).

The shrine was made famous from the 2005 film Memoirs of a Geisha when young Chiyo was running in happiness. I actually made a re-enactment of that scene but without sporting a kimono. Haha. At the shrine you’ll also find a lot of wishing wall. It’s actually fun to look at the creativity of people wishing and their wishes written. 😉

Around early in the afternoon, we decided to head back to Osaka and spent the rest of the day shopping at Keihan City Mall and resting.

Last day in Japan.

Our check-out at the hotel was around 11pm. Fortunately, the hotel allows us to leave our luggage there which gave us time to go wherever we want and spent the rest of the day until we leave for the airport. I had an early walk at the Osaka Castle around 9am. There were a lot of people who were up early and doing their morning walk and jog around the castle. I think the castle grounds is a pretty good place to have your morning exercise. I really wish that I live near the castle. The place was perfect for me.

It was the 400th years anniversary of the Toyotomi and Tokugawa war when we visited so the entrance fee at the castle was reduced to 400 yen only. The castle was built under the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and then fell from the Tokugawa clan. Destroyed by lightning fire, reconstructed and destroyed again from Meiji restoration period. After the WWII bombing, it was reconstructed to what it is today. I really got curious about the history of this castle and if you look at the whole map of the castle, it is quite interesting. There were really security features at the whole architecture of the place which made me think of how they were so intricate and careful at the things that they do. It was really beautiful even from our hotel room I can witness its magnificence.

Osaka CastleAs mentioned from my previous post, I have already visited the castle at night which made it the second time for me to visit it. I didn’t get the chance to go to the castle garden (I need to go back again). After the walk around the castle, I went back to the hotel and we spent the rest of the day drinking green tea at an Italian coffee shop across our hotel. I really enjoyed the cool breeze of Japan outside the cafe and reflect about our week trip in Osaka and Kyoto. It was a nice experience that I won’t ever forget and made me want to travel more.

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Day 4 & 5: Korean Town – Tenjimbashi-suji and Shitennoji Temple – Shinsaibashi-suji – Dotombori – Umeda

At the time of this writing it would be exactly three months since my trip and I am afraid it was no longer vivid in my memory that I really need to write it now. It’s Christmas eve for most people but for me it’s just an ordinary day and so I am blogging.

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It’s not very unusual but we started late on our fourth day. I guess that’s why we never so much experienced the subway rush hour in Osaka. We went to Tsuruhashi Shopping street, the one they called Korean Town, on a Wednesday. When we arrived, little did we know that the reason that there were not much shops opened was because it is closed every Wednesday. Total failure! Although, we still found some that were open. Luckily, we run into a Filipina woman who we had a really interesting chat with. She told us to go to Tenjimbashi-suji which we did after we had lunch at a Korean restaurant. (We’re in Korean town duh!)

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For only 1050 yen, We had 삼겹살. It’s a famous Korean dish and is really one of my favorites. The food is pretty good and I was full after but be prepared to smell like charcoal after.

DSC_0453After a satisfying lunch, we headed to Tenjimbashi-suji as it was recommended for cheap shopping. Shopping streets in Japan all look fairly similar. You can always expect one long street of individual shops lined-up. I think it’s actually pretty cool than going to the mall and have to go round and round trying to find shops. At least, a single line will ensure you that you won’t miss any shop as you pass by.

Another interesting find in Japan are their numerous arcade shops, well they are not really arcade shops because you have to shell out a lot of money to keep playing. You will see a lot of old man playing what seems like pinball but not really it.

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We pretty much spent the whole day shopping until our feet can walk. If you are looking for cheap souvenirs from Osaka, you might as well find it here.

For the shoppaholics, shopping might be easy-pissy but for us it’s totally hard. It was hard to get up the next day from all the walking. Thank God I bought a really nice pair of comfortable sneakers or I’d die from all the walking we did.

Fifth day’s highlight was the Shitennoji Temple. If you are not aware of it, it’s the oldest shrine in Osaka and you might as well notice from the picture below on how old it is. You can easily access this temple via the Shitennoji-mae station. It’s just five minutes walk from the station.

20140925_112448 400 years old Shrine 

We got a free pass inside the shrine not because of the Osaka Amazing pass but because there was a Buddhism ceremony so it was free. Yay for us! On a normal day the entrance fee is 300 yen. I think this temple is a must go if you are in Osaka as this resembles one of the Japanese culture. The structure’s architecture was magnificent and the whole area was really well planned. Then I wondered, how come we don’t have such places like this.

Shitennoji Panorama

A bad Panoramic View @ Shitennoji Temple

When we had enough of the shrines, relics and old stuff, we were off to Shinsaibashi-suji for some premier shopping (coz you know we have to). Oh well, it’s another long street of all the expensive, luxurious brand you can imagine. At the front of the shopping street, you will be welcomed by UNIQLO and H&M. Why do they always have to be in-front or beside each other?

DSC_0482The best thing about Shinsaibashi-suji? There’s free wifi. Hahaha. I should’ve really got a Docomo wifi so that I am not searching everywhere for wifi.

And this year you might have heard about.. Hello Kitty’s 40th anniversary and yes Hello Kitty is not a cat. You will find a lot of store dedicated to Hello Kitty here but just be ready for your money to be taken away. Haha! 

Now I know why the lady we met in Tsuruhashi told us about Shinsaibashi-suji, that you should dress well when you go there. There’s only a slim chance for you to find a cheap item there. However, there’s one thing I noticed about the Japanese. Back in my home country, if you don’t dress well and walked into a high-end shop.. You will get quite a stare and be snobbed by the sales lady. But in Japan, tho I was just wearing casual outfit, I never get to experienced to be snobbed. They were actually very enthusiastic about selling their products to, which makes me to really wanna buy the Samantha Thavasa bag only if it won’t cost me a fortune.

At the end of Shinsaibashi-suji, you will be welcomed by the famous Glico billboard and apparently when we visit it was being fixed. It was replaced by a Glico girl.

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Dotombori Cruise

Dotombori was another walkathon. You’d really develop some leg muscles while you’re in Japan. There’s no question why they all look skinny and slim from all the walking they do everyday. I would appreciate this kind of walking if only we have a great subway system and trains. (Deep sigh!)

After Dotombori, we went back to our hotel and last minute went to the Hankyu Department store at Umeda. Good thing we purchased the one-day unlimited subway pass for 800 yen which made us save some yen.

You can spot Matsuya from this street which was my favorite Gyudon fast food chain. The food was priced reasonably and it taste good (at least for me), especially the rice. We weren’t able to try the HEP 5 ferris wheel because we got there so late. So we only did some strolling around and went back to Temmabashi around 22:00 where our feet led us walking to the Osaka Castle.

It’s kind of creepy walking at night. The place looks kind of eerie at night especially the outer moat but it was such an experience and the weather was good too (a chilly kind of night). We spent the rest of the night walking around the castle before resigning to our hotel rooms.

Reminiscing about my trip to Osaka makes me want to travel more and experience other places. Travelling opens you up to different perspectives.

I will write about the last two days of my trip before I head of to Subic for the New Year.