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Saturday, July 01, 2017

#carmenxjapan Day 11: Osaka City Sights part one

When I first arrived in Osaka, I wasn't use to the change in atmosphere. From ancient cities to modern metropolitan. But it didnt take long to fall in love with the vibes of the city. It's unlike Tokyo's though, Tokyo was more like bustling, advanced and upscale but Osaka was more energetic and vibrant. Similar to Tokyo, Osaka has its modern skyscraper districts, historical sites and recreational hubs and I'll be visiting some of them in this and the next post.

Traveling around Osaka city
To be honest, I really had no idea what is there to do in Osaka, a friend of mine told me to just get the Amazing Osaka Pass (AOP) and forget about planning, just read the guide book and voila, amazing sights awaits. True enough, the Amazing Osaka Pass is truly amazing, the pass covers loads of tourist attractions including the most iconic sites like Osaka Castle and Umeda Sky Building and that's not it, you could use the pass for Osaka city's subway network. I bought a two-day pass which costs 3300 yen and got transport and admission fees settled, pretty good deal especially for people who don't wanna think too much on tour routes, the pass kinda narrowed down the places for you to visit. Plus the pass comes with a guidebook with detailed map, so you could just start from any place and just visit the nearby attractions. I got my pass at the tourist information center of Osaka Station. Please visit their official website to find out more about the benefits of the pass.

Osaka Castle Park
The must-visit place when you're in Osaka. A citadel, which serves as the town center, complete with living quarters, turrets and moats with high stone walls. Although it is not the original building but you could still see the glory and wisdom behind the construction of the castle. The main castle in the middle of the grounds is now a museum which showcases historical artifacts and presents history of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a general who fought and once united the states in Japan and also the man who constructed the castle. Within the castle grounds are also several attractions that are included in the AOP.

The outer moat

One of the gates to the castle

There's a Kendo stadium within the park! Turns out there was some competition going on and I got to see Kendo in action. The way they shout while attacking was pretty terrifying haha. 

Love the exterior, the white, gold and a very special shade of jade green. Graceful mix of colours.

A model of the original citadel in the Osaka Castle Museum

You could try the surcoat and kosode from the Sengoku era

Detailed dioramas of important moments in the history of Osaka

One floor of the museum is dedicated to present the life of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, really appreciate how they present a story in the most interesting way. 

The highest floor is an observation deck. Now you know why a castle on the stone hill is important, this is how you keep an eye on your city, witness its prosperity and protect it from invasion. 

also in the park is Hokoku Shrine dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Next to the main castle tower is the Nishinomaru Garden which is a wide green field lined with cherry blossom trees (which will be blooming in April). It also offers a pretty view of the main castle tower. 

Tea of the day

The Yagura Turret where defense guards keep an eye out for external invaders  

Osaka Museum of History
Just a few minutes walk from Osaka Castle Park, this museum compliments the knowledge learnt from Osaka Castle. Instead of the art/artifacts gallery kind of museum, the museum serves to educate noob people like me by presenting loads of visually attractive models, displays and videos. I use to think museums should be housed in those mansions with 2-3 floors but this is located within a high rise building and the tour starts from the 10th floor and ends at the 7th. 

The first exhibition floor showcases the history of the Nara period with a hall that replicates the Naniwa Palace's Daikokuden, complete with realistic life-sized figures in their traditional costumes. The blinds were shut initially and it did felt like walking through ancient palace halls, few minutes later the blinds were lifted, and you will be looking directly at the actual site of the Naniwa Palace through the windows. It's like traveling through time. Love this exhibition area so much. Sorry I should have taken better photos, the hall looks impressively real. 

what's more, you could even try on the traditional costume and have your photo taken FOR FREE
Sorry for my bad memory but i forgot what is the name of this imperial costume. Honestly I thought this imperial dress was super comfy and if you don't count the head dress, I think I would have look like a feminine and decent lady. 

The next exhibition floor which showcases the glorious past of Osaka as the economic center. The dioramas and displays depicts the daily lives of people who live by the waters.  

the modern age of Osaka at the final exhibition hall. Here you'll see the beautiful streets of Osaka and the lifestyle of its people in the recent century, filled with charm and prosperity. 

Theaters in the past. From all these exhibitions, it is not hard to find Osaka or even Japan an interesting and unique country. 

Lunch at Cafe de Clever @Osaka Station
Had Omurice with Demi-glace Set (1000yen)
Seriously why is everything so yummy? Though the omelette is not the super fluffy type, but it still taste good with the sauce and the tomato rice. 
Location: Japan, 〒530-0001 Ōsaka-fu, Ōsaka-shi, Kita-ku, Umeda, 3 Chome−3−1−1 JR大阪駅 OSAKA STATION CITY サウスゲートビル梅田大丸

There's like this wide area of water pond and fountains outside of the Osaka Station
Loads of kids playing around and I was so tempted to dip my feet into the water.  

Umeda Sky Building's Floating Garden Observatory
The weather was crazy hot but I'm loving the sunshine. Guess it was great timing to visit an observation deck to have a bird's eye view of Osaka city. 

The observatory connects the two office towers. I can't get over the geometry of this building, the perfect circle, the perfect sharp edges of the building, it's like they built it with lego blocks haha. 

Sorry I don't have any photos at the open-air rooftop coz the sun was glaring and I decided to hide at the observation deck. At the observation deck, there's like this raised sofa seats at one side of the deck, and they are all occupied by couples, then there's plenty of tables on the other side where you could see families and friends sitting in a circle and hanging out. 

But Thank God, another side of the deck were high tables against the windows so forever alone people like me could also have a place to just sit down and admire the cityscape in silence haha. #singleproblems

there's a Cafe at the same floor and I got myself an Iced Cocoa (350yen), again hehe 
Pretty much glued to my seat and I couldn't move my eyes away from this view. That was the life-is-good moment.

awesome daylight for selfie hehe

Hep Five Ferris Wheel
As if my day wasn't chilling enough, I continued to chill out in another way haha. This time, taking a rest in a ferris wheel cabin. I mentioned this before, that Japan is really a land of ferris wheel. I guess there's just something magical about this slowly spinning wheel against the blue sky. Btw, Hep Five is a shopping mall with a crazy amount of boutiques that are pretty much catered to young souls. Clothes to accessories to bags to phone cases, everything is trendy. What's more, there's a SEGA Joypolis which is a mega indoor amusement park with all sorts of arcade games and indoor rides! Everything a young soul wants in a mall. Goshhhhhh I am so jealous of Japanese kids. Btw the AOP includes admission to a ride in Joypolis named Wild River which is kinda like a bumper-boat simulator. 

a cabin to myself T T 
this is like the best thing ever haha

admiring Osaka at a different angle

again, the sun made way to pretty selfies!

Dotonbori, Namba
Finally night falls and I found myself at the bustling streets of Namba area. Followed the crowd and found myself at Dotonbori with loads of shops and boats cruising through the river. Wanted to take a ride on the Dotonbori River Cruise which is included in the AOP but I was too late to get the tickets. I was told that the tickets are given out at 11am in the morning! So do get your tickets early if you wanna try this. Nevertheless, I stayed and walked along the Dotonbori River and just let the bright lights blind my eyes and riotous noises hit my ears. Damnnn, though I'm alone, but I like how it felt, the chilly weather makes it better. But the crowds at the Ebisubashi (the bridge near Glico Man) was pretty intimidating haha. 

along the mainstreet of Dotonbori

oh yeahhh the heaven of food and shopping. Was crying on the inside for not having the budget to shop T T

Had my dinner at Takohachi
I saw a long queue at the ground floor of the store and decided to try their Okonomiyaki. But turns out, the queue was for their specialty Takoyaki balls LOL But the Okonomiyaki taste great anyway!!
And you'll have the okonomiyaki served right before you where the steel surface keeps it warm and crispy!
Location: 1-5-10 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka

Okonomiyaki with Double Bacon (1200yen) 
Honestly, this is like a dream come true. And once again, whatever I had in MY and SG was such a lie. Can you see the thickness and how perfectly round and cylindrical it is, it looks like a perfect pancake omggg. That's loads of crunchy veggies in it, topped with strips of crunchy bacon and delicious sauce and mayonnaise. Honestly, I didn't get sick, every bite taste equally awesome. But I wished there was someone with me because I swear the Yakisoba at the table next to me look and smell really good. Should have fork out the courage to ask for one bite haha

explored along Dotonbori River, where the river is colored with the reflections of the bright neon signs

the iconic Glico Man!!! 

In Japan, it's not rare to have packed neon signs covering the entire building, or even a whole block. 

"We'll be burning up like neon lights"

That's day one of city tour in Osaka. Really enjoyed the history-learning part and also the chillax cityscape observation portion. Next day, the ultimate chillax day with ocean breeze, loads of coffee and a dip in hot spring!

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