Day 18 – Osaka Castle and Kurashiki

Our time in Osaka was coming to an end and we checked out of our hotel, we were lucky not to be charged a late checkout fee as we slept in from the previous night out. Gavin and I split from Tang and Ed as they went to do some souvenir shopping. On the other hand, Gavin and I ended up splitting as well as he had forgotten his wallet or something, so I was left to check out the Osaka Castle myself.

Getting off the train station was this large hall, not sure what it’s actually used for though.

Osaka-Jo Hall

The entrance to the Castle is very nice, it’s surrounded by a moat and lush greenery as well.

Outside the walls

A little food cart stands outside with the castle standing tall in the background, there were also random cats walking around. Unlike in Sydney, these cats looked like they were well fed and weren’t scared of humans, looks like the Japanese like their cats as well.

Food stall

Coming in through the walls, you can finally marvel at the grand castle perched up high, when I think of castles I usually think grey, but this was a magnificent contrast of white and green.

View of the castle from the entrance

Looking at it closely, the castle looks pristine, probably because it was one that was rebuilt and not the original structure. There is plenty of detail in the roof work and a few touches of gold make it look rather grand.

Closer look

As with Japan, there is food everywhere, and right in front of the castle is no exception, I bought some takoyaki for breakfast and they’re just delicious wherever you go.

More takoyaki

Not sure what the surrounds of the castle would have been originally, but in the present time, it seems like a rather nice recreational area as there were heaps of people going for a walk/jog or sitting around after a bike ride.

Area in front of the castle

Walking around there were a few interesting people, there were a few people dressed in samurai clothing and it looked like they were posing for photos, perhaps something to attract the tourists. There was also an old man dressed like a monk, I think he was asking for donations.

Monk just outside the castle

Just on the other side of the castle was a shrine so I decided to check it out and behold there was a wedding ceremony taking place, the people were dressed quite differently to the one in the Meiji Shrine (near Harajuku) not sure what the difference is though.

Traditional wedding
Heading towards the shrine

After they all headed into the shrine, I went back home and while walking through one of the parks to the train station, there were a whole bunch of people riding these strange things. They’re sorta like a cross between a skate board and a roller blade. Each one had a single castor wheel and you’d use two of them, absolutely bizzare.

Weird skateboarding thing

Coming back, we farewelled Tang and Ed and headed off to catch a Shinkansen to Kurashiki, the first stop in our leg down to Hiroshima and Miyajima. It was only here I realised I had forgotten to take a photo of the interior of a Shinkaensen. As you can see, somewhat futuristic yet spacious and comfortable.

Inside a bullet train

We arrived at Kurashiki late in the afternoon and it was already getting dark and because our luggage was getting quite heavy after a long day, we went in search of our hotel to check in and leave our bags. Upon arrival we were quite disappointed with the look of the place and it look rather old and the room was tiny! No internet in our room and the TV was a crappy old CRT which you had to pay to use. But after showering and changing, we went on the hunt for food.

Arriving at Kurashiki

We just walked into a random place and it turned out to be a little ramen stand. It was a bit different to your usual ramen place as they had a kim-chi like extra you could add. Not exactly sure what it was because it wasn’t wet like kim-chi but rather dry.

Ramen with chilli cabbage

Turns out, this little extra addition is awesome! It gives the Ramen a little extra kick and was seriously delicious! Would definitely recommend this place to anyone who visits Kurashiki, it’s just opposite the station when you walk out.

Delicious Ramen shop

Despite it being rather late, we decided to head out and walk around anyway as the tourist information showed a couple of points of interest. The first place was called the Ivy Square and its entrance was marked by a arch, it wasn’t lit very well and rather dark coming in.

Ivy Square

Once in a little further, this lovely courtyard was presented amongst us, would have been a rather lovely place to hang out for a coffee during the day and I could imagine it having some live accordion music or similar with a nice European vibe.

Inside the square

There were a lot of vines growing throughout the place and the darkness made it rather difficult to find things to photograph, best I could do was this door way which led into the square.

One of the entrance ways

As it was dark and late it was also cold, being Japan, the marvels of technology bring me this warm pancake drink and it was just so tasty! Being warm just made it even better as it warmed my cold exposed hands.

Warm pancake drink

Next destination was a shrine in the hill, on the way there was a tunnel which ran through the hill, it just stood out as it was well lit and heavily contrasted the dark around it.

Cool tunnel

So walking up the hill also means walking past a cemetery or something, and it’s quite eerie late at night in the quiet darkness. Arriving at the shrine was also kinda spooky as it was deserted.

Entering a shrine at night
Entrance to the shrine

Entering felt like one of those dark asian movies where there are ninja’s just watching you and getting ready to strike and attack. Kinda felt like we were walking into a trap or people were hiding from us.

Eerie feeling inside

It didn’t help when you see ninja symbols everywhere (sorta like the ones from Naruto).

I swear Ninjas are hiding somewhere

We walked back after checking out the temple and decided to go for another walk in the morning to see what it’s like during the day.

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