Friday, 19 July 2013

Japan Day 6: Osaka Castle and Hamadera Koen

Now that we're back in Osaka, one of the schedules on our itinerary is a visit to the famous Osaka Castle. We bought some snacks and macarons ^^ from the departmental stores the day before, which we had for breakfast before our sightseeing.

We took the subway to the Tanimachi-4 Chome station (230 yen per person one way), and from there walked for about 10 to 15 minutes to get to the castle grounds. There are actually several subway stations surrounding the Osaka Castle area, which are also within walking distance, so you can choose which line is more convenient based on the station you are departing from.

There were lots of signage along the way pointing us along towards the Osaka Castle, so there wasn't much of a problem in getting there from the subway station. Saw a beautiful patch of pink flowers along the way as well ^^

Osaka Castle and the surrounding grounds

Compared to the other temples and shrines we visited previously, there is no charge to enter and see the gardens and grounds of the Osaka Castle. There is only a charge if we would like to enter the castle museum or head to the top for a nice aerial view of the surroundings. My mum and I are not very interested in museums, so decided to skip this and just spent our time exploring the grounds area.

We spent some time in the gardens as well, and even saw some people fishing from the side of the moat. Wonder what kind of fish there are in there? There were even some people with cameras doing some kind of recording or interview of the people fishing there.

1. Another view of the castle     2. Some building to the side of the main castle building. Love these brick buidings ^^     3.Garden with pool in the castle grounds     4. Nice big tree giving lots of shade to weary travellers =p

After our walk, we headed to the nearest station from us and chanced upon a shopping centre which was situated just next to the subway station. Can't really remember but I think this was at Keihan City Mall, which is next to the Tenmabashi station. Happened to pass by a Uniqlo store which was having a sale and managed to get some nice clothes for both mum and dad ^^ Prices are not too bad during the sales, got some very nice shirts for dad at about RM80 only.

We also found a number of shops selling craft items and we spent lots of time just oohing and ahing at all the materials there. Couldn't resist getting some charms to put into my own accessories =p Prices are slightly higher but I do like the quality of the charms here. Much more variety and they're so cute too ^^

While shopping, we got distracted by this amazing display of fruit tarts. They just looked so amazingly good, we couldn't resist and shared a slice of the mixed berries tart and a coffee before continuing our shopping. Yummy chocolate tart with berries to boost our energy after all the walking...hehe ^^

1. Just look at the array of beautiful tarts...this is making me hungry     2. Mixed berry tart
3. Our tempura, udon and soba set

For lunch, we decided to just try one of the Japanese restaurants within the shopping center itself. There are a number of restaurants on the top level and we just randomly picked one to try based on the menu outside. We chose this set consisting of tempura, udon and soba (2,100 yen) to be shared between the both of us. Apart from the array of items above, the set came with 5 trays each of udon and soba.

There was a huge variety of dishes served and we were stuffed even though we shared this between the two of us. The amazing thing was that we saw this elderly couple, and their young grandson at the next table who each had one set like this to themselves. I seriously have no idea how the Japanese can stay so slim if their food portions are like this.

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel for a short rest. We saw a poster in the hotel about a rose exhibition held at Hamadera-koen on that day and decided to head there that evening. As this was not in our original plans, we got directions from the hotel staff on how to get there.

Beautiful, beautiful flowers

Instead of the subway, this time we had to move on to the Nankai railway line to get to Hamadera-koen. It's not hard to find as the name of the station is the same as the gardens. It cost us 640 yen per person for a return trip to Hamadera-koen station. This place is located away from the city center and is really quite a quiet area.

Little worried when we got off the train as we didn't really see anyone around the area. Luckily, the gardens were very near as the entrance was almost directly across from the exit of the train station. This is a really large park and we saw a number of locals relaxing or cycling around the park. The rose garden is located further in and there is seriously a huge variety of roses here, of all colours and sizes.

Around 6 or 7 pm in the evening, there was even a music performance in the middle of the rose gardens. We saw a lot of the local Japanese arriving and finding seats to enjoy the performance amidst the beautiful flowers.

The beautiful white roses on the bottom left are named "Princess of Wales" ^^

For dinner, we headed again to the Dotombori area to try some of the other snacks we have yet to try. First stop was for some takoyaki! This shop is located very close to the starting point of Dotonbori area, near to the bridge to Shinsaibashi-Suji. Just watch out for the giant squid can't miss it. There was a line for this, both to eat in the restaurant and also for take-aways.

We opted for take-away as I think it's faster and we were also heading to another restaurant after this as well. The takoyaki cost us 500 yen for this portion of 8 pieces I think. Took our time enjoying the piping hot takoyaki beside the shop and people-watching. There were so many guys hanging out along the bridge I mentioned above and I didn't think much about it till I got back from Japan and read from another traveller's blog that the guys hanging around there were supposedly male escorts o_o

1. The famous signage for the takoyaki shop     2. Our piping hot takoyaki *yum yum*
3. Kushi katsu..i think this was chicken     4. Okonomiyaki

Next, we headed to one of the restaurants for some okonomiyaki, which is supposed to be an Osakan specialty, I think. Also decided to order some kushi katsu to try. Though there is a grill on each table, the okonomiyaki is cooked beforehand and then brought directly to the table for your consumption. Would have loved if we could have it done on our table in front of us, since the grill is there anyway =p

And that's the end of our day in Osaka. Headed back after that for a good's night sleep as we will be travelling to Kobe the next day =) Time for some much anticipated Kobe beef ^^

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