Monday, October 22, 2007

Japan Day 2: Osaka Castle, Temples, a Graveyard, and Okonomiyaki

My second day in Japan, Stephanie took me to see Osaka Castle. It's in a lovely park. The first thing you see, castle-wise, is the outer moat.
Then you walk through a giant gate, turn left, and walk through another giant gate.
Second gate with omnipresent schoolchildren.

There's still a great deal of space within the gates and we wandered around, looking at a small temple with a rock garden, taking pictures with those 2 dimensional figures that have holes where their faces should be so you can stick your head there, and eating lunch.

And after seeing that, we went to the main attraction.
The first thing you do upon entering Osaka Castle is go up to the observation level where you can get a 360 degree view of the city. That level also has these beautiful black and gold decorations:
Apparently it's what the castle used to look like.

Inside is a museum devoted to the history of the castle. Particularly that of original builder Toyotomi Hideyoshi and his resistance toward the shogunate. The museum has the neatest dioramas I've ever seen. Basically they have these three dimensional dioramas within which there are transparent video or projection screens (I'm not sure which). On the screens they show actors portraying various events. Each diorama lights up in sequence as you go around the room. Of course this doesn't photograph very well, but the picture below should give you some idea of what I'm talking about. I loved these things.
Beyond the dioramas they have letters from Hideyoshi, decorative items from the castle, armor, mock-ups of battles and various other things.
Part of a tiger that used to decorate the exterior of the castle.

Steph had a private lesson to teach, so I was on my own for the afternoon. I took the subway back to her neighborhood and then checked out a small shrine and graveyard before going to see the huge temple across the street from her house. Shittenoji was essentially the first of a great many temples I saw while in Japan, but was actually rather different than many of them because it feels more like a working temple than a tourist attraction.
Just one part of the giant temple.
Dippers to rinse your hands and mouth (I felt that rinsing my hands was enough).

In the evening we went to eat an Osaka specialty called okonomiyaki. It's basically cabbage, egg, some kind of sauce, and I don't know what else. You can request certain things be put in it. Steph and I had it with cow meat because we wanted to stick with something she recognized the kanji for. There's a grill at each table and they cook it right in front of you.
Fussy eater or not, all that cabbage can't be too bad
Okonomiyaki once cooked . . . we skipped the fish flakes and mayo.

We also got yakisoba which I liked rather better than the okonomiyaki.

Unfortunately, we hadn't realized what was going to be in it since there were no pictures or English menus here, and this place didn't have the ubiquitous fake food either. So there were some leftovers.
Still, by my standards it was a pretty adventurous day.

No comments: