Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Japan Trip - Osaka

The last day of our trip was spent in Osaka. Our flight left at 11:30 pm, so we had the whole day to explore. We started with a bento box in a little food stall. Osaka is known for being relatively cheap, and we weren't disappointed. This bento box was really tasty and quite inexpensive.
With our appetite momentarily quenched, we headed for Osaka-jo, a very large castle in the middle of the city.
Completed in 1583, this castle was built under the orders of Toyotomi Hideyoshi after he successfully unified Japan.
100,000 workers built the castle in just 3 years. Similar to Egypt's pyramids, modern scholars aren't quite sure how the huge granite rocks were moved for the construction of the palace.
After walking up to the 8th floor of the castle to see the view, we found ourselves ready for a snack: ice cream! I had the ginger ice cream in the front, and Bobby had his favorite green tea ice cream in the back.
Ice cream in hand, we left the castle, walking across its two moats.
Our next stop was Shitteno-ji. Founded in 593, Shitteno-ji is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan. However, like so many other structures in Japan, all of the shrines and temples in Shitteno-ji are reconstructions of the original buildings. Truth be told, this wasn't a very pretty temple. Oh well, we can at least say we've been there and done that.
Osaka is a pretty large city; in fact, it's the third largest city in Japan. It is also a very modern city since it was basically bombed flat during WWII. We used the circle train to get around the large city. On one of the rides, Bobby sat next to a sleeping man.
As the train moved, this guy fell more and more asleep, and fell more and more sideways towards Bobby. I was laughing so hard at this point that it was difficult to get a proper picture!
In the evening, we headed to Minami area of Osaka. This was the first time where I felt like I was in the Japan so often portrayed in movies. There are bright lights and neon signs everywhere. All of the restaurants have near-perfect plastic models of their food in the windows, and hip young Japanese kids with crazy hair were hanging out with their friends. Whenever we go to Tokyo, I think it will be quite similar to this.
We went to a sushi restaurant for our last meal in Japan. We ordered fugu, the infamous puffer fish which, if not prepared correctly, can poison the eater. Luckily, our fugu was properly prepared. It didn't really taste like anything, but its consistency was similar to jelly fish.
Luckily, the sushi did have flavor. Good flavor, that is.
Overall, our trip to Japan was spectacular! We really enjoyed everything about the trip: the fantastic food we ate every day, the beautiful fall colors, the lovely temples and shrines, spending time with Robin, and interacting with some very friendly and helpful people along the way. There is still so much of the country to see, and we hope to go back in the near future.

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