Check Before You Meet
Today we were going to the Osaka Castle area and we were to meet up with two more of our hanai kids who participated in the WAVOC program, Risa, and Mayu who wanted to introduce us to her mom. Risa would be traveling from Tokyo to meet us and Mayu and her mom were spending the weekend in Osaka on a sightseeing trip. We agreed to meet at the entrance to the Osaka Castle grounds. What we didn’t realize (because we all hadn’t been there before) was there were four different gate entrances to the grounds, and we arrived at three different gates. Which made for difficulty in finding each other as we sent texts (via Line) of our whereabouts.
We entered from the Ote Gates the walls were immense, made by stacking huge stones together even the moat surrounding the castle was built from these massive stones. It had us thinking of the ingenuity it took to build such a place (It made me think of the impressiveness of the Pyramids too).
The wooden gates were held in place by huge hinges!
We made our way to the front of the Osaka Shudokan where you could hear the loud kiai of the students training in kendo, followed by the loud whacking sounds as the kendo bokken made contact. Here is where we waited for Mayu and her mom to arrive. We were able to spend only a brief 30 minutes with Mayu and her mom due to them having time constraints (they had to meet their tour group in 90 minutes to return to Tokyo). They went on ahead of us to tour the Osaka Castle while we waited for Risa to arrive.
Risa arrived ten minutes later. It was a tearful happy reunion!
As we made our way to tour the Osaka Castle we got a text From Mayu informing us that there were a lot of stairs inside the castle.
There are indeed a lot of stairs in the castle. However there are elevators to take the elderly, those with strollers or those who aren’t able to climb stairs up to the variously levels. It was an amazing feeling being in a place where history took place! To be able to lookout over the landscape and wonder what must’ve been going through the minds of those watching the battles rage below. I also wondered if any of my ancestors were ever there in that place as history unfolded? It gave me “chicken skin” (goose bumps). The feeling was similar to walking the halls of the Iolani Palace or the group of the sacred Heiau. You can just feel “the Mana!” (Power/Presence).
As you descend from the top floor you stop on the floors below (*Note: no stopping on the way up, when you come down you can stop on the different floors) to view the many displays of the time period, and read about the history. On the bottom floor there is a theatre. They have the big main screen showing the history of the castle, and on the sides there are smaller screens with subtitles in different languages. There is also a place to take pictures wearing armor.
Back outside we took pictures with the “Jamurai” (as our kids named the elderly janitors in Samurai costume), and a ninja!
I would have liked liked to look around more but the natives were getting hungry. It was time to go, but here are a couple more pictures.
Ebisubashi-Suji & Doronbori
Risa took us to Ebisubashi-Suji to have lunch, I forgot to take a picture of the sign 😕 but the food was onolicious (delicious in Hawaiian), and cheap too!
During lunch our Yuuki contacted us (knowing we were going to be in the Osaka Castle area) and asked where we were because she was in Dotonbori at Starbucks near the Glico man. We made plans to meet up after lunch.
It was a short 8 minute walk to Dotonbori to meet Yuuki. Of Course we had to get a picture in front of the Glico man! And a cute crab character!
Next we headed to Don Quixote store to ride the Ferris Wheel. (about a 2-5 minute walk). Looking down we saw people setting up a stage for a performance.
The perfomance was a Michael Jackson fan club (the orange ribbon) with members (about 100) from all over the world that dance and sing to his music to bring about the “stopping of child abuse.” They were great! This one guy looked, danced, and sounded like Michael Jackson! Amazing!
Dotonbori is busy with people even during the daytime! We spotted a cafe with a Hawai’i name. They love ❤ Hawaii!
Taking the lead (as if he knew where we were going) our grandson took the lead holding up Risa’s umbrella (remembering Sari’s example from the day before) to keep us together as we’re headed to the station where we would be parting with Risa (who neede to head back to Tokyo) and Yuuki (who had meeting).
We returned to the house to drop off our things then my husband son and I walked to the Radium bathhouse in Shinsekai near the Tsutenkaku Tower (10-15 minute walk) When you enter there is a life size baby giraffe in the foyer. We found this place because we were looking for an onsen that allowed people with tattoos. Our son wasn’t able to experience an onsen due to his tattoo. This is not a fancy onsen, but a community bathhouse where the locals go. Everything is in Japanese. You take your shoes off and put them in a locker before going to buy a ticket from the vending machine. Thankfully an Obabasan (granny) helped us (speaking Japanese) to know what the different prices included. The most expensive was 490 yen for the men and it included a towel, a bar of soap (1/2 the size of a hotel bar), a bottle of shampoo and a disposable razor. They ladies price was 480 yen (we don’t get a razor). Ladies enter on the right and guys on the left. You bathe and enjoy the little onsen (2 different ones), a sauna, cold plunge, mineral bath, and outdoor onsen. It was a fabulous quiet moment to relax tired muscles!
A great way to end another memorable day with family and friends!