It was an early start but not early enough! Our 8am subway ride meant that we had to share it with the crush of Japanese commuters heading to work and school. The family barely managed to stay together as we headed for Shitenno-ji, one of Japan's oldest temples. We chanced upon a sweet and kind old gentleman who showed us a shortcut into the sprawling temple grounds via a cemetery. He told us a few facts about the temple in his broken English and was delighted to discover that we were from Australia as his son got married in Queensland. Unfortunately, the main building itself was under restoration and so we continued to our next destination, the Osaka Museum of History. Here we encountered our second helpful and sweet gentlemen who helped the children with puzzles and activities despite limited English. They received stickers and a doraemon stamp. Unfortunately, the museum was not geared towards non-Japanese speakers which made it hard to fully appreciate the displays. What was amazing though, were their detailed models of medieval Japanese villages. And from the 10th floor we were able to get a glimpse of the imposing grounds of Osaka Castle.
|The very peaceful Shitennoji. Although there have been reconstructions, care has been taken to stay true to the original 6th century design|
|That would be the main building...moving on! At least we got a lovely refreshing walk...|
|The Museum of History|
|Hands on experience for the children thanks to another kind Japanese|
Osaka Castle was first constructed in the 16th century. However, its main tower was last reconstructed in 1931. If you haven't already guessed by now, entry into the main tower was included in our Amazing Osaka Pass! An elevator took us to the 5th floor where we had to climb stairs to the 8th floor viewing deck and work our way down the stairs back towards the ground floor.
|The impressive moat at the south outer wall of Osaka Castle. At its widest the moat is 75!|
|"Time to attack Osaka Castle!" says Malcolm. Jonah took that quite literally...|
|Is that a...ninjago?!?!|
|There were MASSIVE pieces of stone used|
|The top of the main building|
|More walking...this time out of the castle to get to the nearest subway station|
|Yes shameful I know. But we had to stop to try out some of the Japanese only burgers and we had to "rest".|
|Somethings interesting we noted at many subway stations|
By this stage, everyone's legs were weary from walking. It was a miracle that we walked the whole 2.6km of Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street, Japan's longest shopping street. We decided to scrap plans of visiting Osaka Museum of Housing and Living and opted for the HEP Five Ferris Wheel instead. HEP Five is one of the buildings around the Umeda area which just happens to have a Ferris wheel atop its roof...it was a relaxing way to rest our legs and enjoy the view of Osaka.
|Still happy at the beginning of the shopping street. Little did they know they had to walk 2.6km...|
|The HEP5 ferris wheel|
|As with all things Japanese, it was small. Thus 3 of us were in one and...|
|....2 were in another|
|So relaxing that Elliot opted to read his kindle|
The last attraction for the day was the Floating Garden Observatory at the Umeda Sky Building. The walk to Umeda Sky Building was more complex and took longer than expected. The route within the building was even more complex, but a lot more fun than the smelly underground pedestrian path that we had just left behind. The instructions looked like a mission impossible blueprint display for infiltrating a building. They involved crossing from the west tower to the east tower and back again, 2 elevators and a four story external escalator. The Floating Garden Observatory was peaceful, but the peace was unfortunately disturbed by our children (a common theme so far). A kind guard offered Lara and Jonah entry to a special section on the roof with couple seats and "love locks". They were thrilled until they discovered that this was a lovers' section whereupon they looked at each other, screamed and ran back past the guard.
|The Umeda Sky Building|
|Working out way up to the Floating Observatory|
|Expansive views over the Osaka City|
|In the basement of the building they have restaurants built like the Edo period. Unfortunately they were not open yet so we could not eat there|
|weihnachtsmarkt in Japan! Unfortunately the Glurwein was nearly $10 a pop so we skipped that one... and got potato and bacon soup instead|
|Lovely Christmas decorations|
There were many food stalls/restaurants in and around the massive Umeda Station but many were tiny. We were exhausted and hungry and walked into the first shop that could cater for all 5 of us. It just happened to be Thai - oops. The Changi beer signs should've been a giveaway, not to mention the Thai flag on the wall. We were tired! It turned out to be a highly satisfying meal. The Thai "ramen" had one of the tastiest broth I've ever had, and Elliot wolfed down his green curry as well as a whole bowl of noodles. We learnt our lesson and hurried to be on the subway before the start of the evening rush. Plans to scour Dotonbori for more food were abandoned as everybody literally crashed...
|So focused on eating...|
|Looks plain but oh did that broth attack the taste buds!|