This trip was a short break – from Wednesday to Saturday. Thursday morning, after breakfast, I took the subway to the castle. This is an impressive structure, in the typical style of Japanese castles. It was originally built in the sixteenth century, but burnt down several times. The main tower of the castle was reconstructed in 1931, funded by donations from local Osaka residents. The grounds form part of a wider park, and you can go inside the castle and climb to the roof, which offers commanding views over the immediate area.
There are some accounts of the history of the castle and families linked to it, inside the main castle building. My knowledge of Japanese history is not good, particularly in the early modern period. Lots of the people described in the information, therefore, I had no idea who they were. Nevertheless, it was interesting to read about the castle’s history, and many of the information boards had English translations too, so that helped get a more complete picture of the castle’s past. Throughout the castle grounds there are turrets and gates across the site, as well as the moats. Although the castle and immediate castle area was quite busy when I went, the wider park seemed quite quiet.
Following this, I crossed the road and went to the Osaka Museum of History. In my travels, I do tend to see out museums. I was particularly impressed with this one. It had quite a few English signs, which always helps, and an old-fashioned style street which you could walk down. One thing of note that I liked was they had an archaeology society, I think ostensibly for younger people. They had a mock-up of a dig site, where you could practice digging for artefacts, and lots of information about archaeology and the importance and methods of it. There were also some puzzles you could do, involving archaeological finds, such as a pot which you could try and assemble yourself.
It was lunchtime, when I finished in the museum, so I went for lunch in the museum café and restaurant, which was very nice, and then went to the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living. This may not sound like an exciting place to visit, but actually it was quite interesting. It was basically a big room, with a mock-up of Edo-era Osaka. You could walk around traditional streets and feel like you had been transported back into old Osaka. There was even an opportunity to wear a kimono if you wished, and walk around the streets dressed in traditional clothes.
I headed back to the hotel for a rest for a while after this, before going to a touristy- and popular shopping area around the river. There was a particular spot I wanted to go to. I had seen photos of Osaka from a bridge looking down river at night with all the neon lights. It looked very colourful and impressive. When I arrived, I found the bridge, but it was not yet completely dark. After wandering around and further exploring the area, I went to a ramen restaurant for food, by which time darkness had fallen. I walked back to the bridge and took my photos, before taking in the nightlife and lights of the city streets.