Celebrating Food! Celebrating Life!

Japan Mar 2011 Day 2 – Osaka Castle

Second day in Osaka was biting cold but somewhat sunny. What an oxymoron yes I know but that was exactly how we felt! But the perfect weather to visit the Osaka Castle. Not so much of a writing post, more of a photo log.

Osakajo

Osaka-jo

Map at the entrance of Osaka-jo Koen 大阪城公园

Osaka-joConifer in bud near the entrance

Osaka-joPretty little marigold-like flowers braving the cold

Osaka-joCute little silver birds on a railing leading to the castle. Such small and seemingly insignificant things all adds up to the beauty of the place. The Japanese are really meticulous, down to the last impeccable detail.

Osaka-joView of the castle moat

Osaka-joThen we saw this curious thing in the water which looked like some alien spacecraft. It turns out to be a solar powered water canal cleaner.

Osaka-joOsaka Castle from afar. We got quite excited when we first saw this, and hastened our strides. Although its not a historial relic, like the ones at Himeji or Kumamoto, Osaka jo is still quite a sight to behold.

Osaka-joDaffodils in bloom

Osaka-joFacing the main entrance of the castle is Hōkoku Shrine 豊國神社, a Toyokuni shrine worshipping Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 豊臣秀吉, a daimyo in the Sengoku period and the builder of the original Osaka Castle. We thought it would be good to do a little detour to visit this shrine first before going into the castle grounds.

Osakajo

Statue of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 豊臣秀吉

Osaka-joEma 絵馬 from Toyokuni Shrine, where worshippers pen their wishes

Osaka-jo

Divination slips tied onto a ume tree.

OsakajoPlum blossom @ Toyokuni Shrine

OsakajoPlum Blossom in bud.

Osaka-jo

Group of old men gathering for their morning get-together. This is probably something routine for them, to the extent of being ritualistic.

Osaka-jo

A candided moment for 4 korean tourists. We had a good laugh at what they were doing.

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At the foot of the castle. We didn’t enter the castle for a tour within though.

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OsakajoA wide angle view against the blue skies…

Osaka castle is famous for its plum blossom garden which was in full bloom during the period of time of our visit. No sakura hanami to welcome us to Kansai but we certainly enjoyed the equally beautiful plum blossoms. This attracted a lot of locals to come enjoy the spectacular sight.

Osakajo

This gentleman was trying to capture a flock of Oriental white-eyes darting around the ume trees, feeding on the abundance of nectar. They were too fast for me and I definitely don’t have the patience like him!

Osakajo

Even before entering the plum blossom garden, we were first overwhelmed by the perfumed scent of ume blossoms in the air.

Osakajo

Osakajo

A school excursion for young children led by their teacher.

Osakajo

Cute JRT begging for treats

Osakajo

Many varieties are cultivated here, some with very elegant sounding names, like 白加贺, 月の桂, 鹿児島紅 etc.

Osakajo

Osakajo

Osakajo

There were a lot of artists, both amateur and professionals at various corners around the park, capturing the immense beauty of the plum blossoms and castle background on canvas.

Osakajo

Osakajo

Time for a group photo!

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Looking somewhat bored, duncha thing? But so kawaii ne!!!

Osakajo

They recited something in Japanese to the same effect of “Say Cheese”, which had them all “smiling” broadly. I think it amused us more than them.

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More white plum blossoms…

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Osaka Castle overlooking the plum garden. Naturally this became a subject for the many photographers and artists who were there that day.

Osakajo

Osakajo

We saw an interesting sight, a group of photographers with big guns firing away at a lone camillia flower. This aroused the curiosity of a lot of visitors.

Osakajo

Then we saw one of the photographers “trespassing” the boundary to place a worm on the petals. Very curious indeed…

OsakajoAfter a short wait, the “subject” of the shoot appeared, swooping down from one of the branches on a nearby plum blossom tree to pick up the worm. As soon as it flew down, it returned to its branch, looking down at the whole hoard of people crowding around the camillia stalk.

This looks like some kind of robin or flycatcher but I couldn’t nail down the species. Anyone who has a positive ID please let me know!

Osakajo

After so much walking and shooting, it was time to take a break! There was a pavillion in the middle of the garden which served as a pitstop for visitors. Apart from vending machines, there were also traditional japanese wagashi 和生菓子 available that day. We chose this, a spring-themed  sakura mochi,  さくら餅 sweet glutinous rice balls with a hint of savoury from pickled cherry blossom (sakura) added. This is the Kansai version which uses dōmyōji-ko 道明寺粉 aka glutinous rice flour.

Osakajo

Azuki 赤小豆 Red bean paste filling on the inside and wrapped with pickled sakura leaves creating rather wonderful textures and taste!

Osakajo

Osakajo

Another group on excursion, senior citizens and retirees.

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Closeup on a plum blossom, pretty in pink…

Osakajo

More random shots…

Osakajo

Osakajo

An elegant ginger, though a bit wary of the camera, just outside the walls of Osaka jo, on the way to  Osakajokoen Subway Station.

Osakajo

We love these artistically designed man-holes! Same design as the one we saw at Shinsaibashi suji. Art is everywhere if you know where to look.

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12 responses

  1. 风景好漂亮呢,我很喜欢这里,可惜短期内我都没得去了:$

    April 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm

  2. These are wonderful photos. It was almost as though I was there. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary

    April 11, 2011 at 11:32 pm

  3. firebirdie

    鲸鱼: 我也很喜欢關西地区耶!!!大阪的大阪烧和拉面,京都的和菓子, 神户的洋菓子。。。好怀念哦。。。可惜短期内应该没有时间和预算再回去完。郁闷中。。。

    Hi Mary! Thanks for the compliments! I wish I could be there soon in the near future!

    April 11, 2011 at 11:50 pm

  4. alan, beautiful photos! nourishing to my eyes! Do you eat the sakura leaves together with the mochi? those white plum blossoms look very pretty..also like my blog header..but yours are much more natural !!

    April 13, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    • firebirdie

      Hi lena! the sakura leaves are edible yes! and quite delicious too! salty amidst the sweet, very good balance.

      I love the white plum blossoms too! alas could’t spend too much time there. so many places to go and so little time!

      April 14, 2011 at 11:08 pm

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