Day 19: Osaka, Part 2

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So, today ended up being quite the busy day! I had only planned about 3 things to do, but they all filled the day completely. I hit up some of the more prominent tourist attractions around Osaka, notably the castle and Dotonbori.

My first destination was the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the largest public aquariums in the world. I mostly just wanted to see its whale shark, the largest species of fish in the world! It ended up being really interesting and I spent a good two hours there.

Top: the first tunnel you enter, which surrounds you with water and fish! Middle: the whale shark!! Bottom: one of the jellyfish.

There are lots of different animals there, and not just fish! There are dolphins, penguins, sea lions, otters, herons, ducks, and capybaras. It’s rainforest exhibit even had a monkey and a couple of sloths. They also had a section for jellyfish, which was really cool. And of course, the whale shark in its giant tank was pretty awesome. I wanted one of the whale shark plushies from the souvenir store, but that would have been difficult to carry around.

After, I headed west to check out Osaka Castle. Unlike Matsuyama and Kochi Castles, Osaka isn’t an original castle but rather, a reconstruction, which is apparent by its interior – lots if glass, concrete, and even an elevator (which is handy, considering the castle has 8 floors!). The line-up for the elevator was really long, though, so I ended up running up the stairs to the 8th floor! The tower’s view wasn’t that great either, due to a steel mesh fence around the balcony. The castle itself, though, is still pretty.

Left: Osaka Castle. Top-right: some cherry blossoms near the castle. Bottom:left: a view from the castle’s tower.

However, much of the castle now serves as a museum, which notably contains original letters preserved from the old feudal lords a few hundred years ago, plus some samurai armour (although, it wasn’t as impressive as those of Oyamazumi Shrine’s, IMHO).

The castle is a great spot to see cherry blossoms, too. At this point in time, they’re past their prime, but there were enough cherry blossoms hanging on that they were still picturesque against the green, white, and gold castle, and people are still holding cherry blossom viewing picnics.

I then made my way to the Namba District, which includes the famous road, Dotonbori. The entire street is packed with shops and restaurants, and at night, is all lit up with bright neon lights. I stopped for a snack of takoyaki, a specialty of Osaka (alongside okonomiyaki), then came across a cat cafe.

Well, I had to stop for that.

Some of the cats at the cat cafe.

For ¥1000, the cafe provides you with a drink of your choice and an hour to hang out at the cafe to sit, relax, and spend time with the cats. You also get a small amount of cat treats to feed the cats. The cafe itself has roughly 10 cats, all different types. It was a lot of fun, but of course, I still miss my own cat back home!

Once my hour was up, the sun had set and Namba was all lit up. I revisited the famous Glico running man sign to take some obligatory pictures. As I passed by the adjacent river, there were a couple of boats going down it. One notably was hosting a party and some of the passengers were yelling out in Japanese to the crowds on land. They seemed quite drunk. When I looked closer, the name of the boat was “Boat of Fools.” I wonder if they realized the irony…

Right (top to bottom): the famous mixing crab sign. Takoyaki. Some funny dude dancing in Dotonbori. Right: the famous Glico running man.

Anyway, I was feeling a little hungry but nearly hungry enough for a full meal, so I stopped for a snack of gyoza dumplings. They were delicious!! And they only cost ¥200, too.

I wandered around a little more, but didn’t find much else of interest, seeing as most if the street was restaurants, so I made my way back to the hostel.

Tomorrow, I return to Tokyo for the last couple days if my trip. I can’t believe it’s almost over!!

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