We decided Sunday would be a good day to visit Osaka Castle. A decision also reached by a large percentage of Osaka’s population. We took the train round to Osakajokoen station, again making use of our JR passes to travel for free. From the station, we walked through the park towards the castle and encountered an unexpected sight. A group of falconers were congregated just outside the castle walls and showing off their birds.
I was fascinated to see that the birds appeared to have been transported to the park in cat boxes fixed to the luggage racks of bicycles. Although we did later see one elderly gentleman cycling out of the park with an owl perched on his handlebars. Not an everyday occurrence.
The castle itself was, as you’d expect, quite unlike what we’d expect to see in the UK.
We paid our entrance fee of about £4 and headed for the entrance. There was a very long queue of people waiting to get in, which was disappointing, until we realised that the line was only for the lift and we were welcome to use the stairs if we wanted, so we did. There was a display of historic items in each floor of the castle so we stopped off to view them as we went, nicely breaking up the journey for us. There were great views of Osaka from the top.
There was also a lot of information about the importance of the castle in a variety of power struggles around the late 16th and early 17th centuries. The castle itself was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi who is viewed as one of the three men who were key to the unification of Japan, the others being Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu.
After the castle, we headed back to our flat but not before stopping off at Big Echo Karaoke to take advantage of the cheap Sunday afternoon rates. We each tried an entirely new repertoire of songs. I’m beginning to think we should pick one or two and stick with them till we get them right.
After our little sing-song, we inspected a few menus to try to choose a dinner venue. Eventually, we settled on a little yakitori place and enjoyed skewered chicken in a variety of forms before heading back home. This was our last proper day in Osaka as we’re headed for Hiroshima on Monday.