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.
Map at the entrance of Osaka-jo Koen 大阪城公园
Cute 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.
Then 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 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.
Facing 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.
Statue of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, 豊臣秀吉
Divination slips tied onto a ume tree.
Group of old men gathering for their morning get-together. This is probably something routine for them, to the extent of being ritualistic.
A candided moment for 4 korean tourists. We had a good laugh at what they were doing.
At the foot of the castle. We didn’t enter the castle for a tour within though.
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.
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!
Even before entering the plum blossom garden, we were first overwhelmed by the perfumed scent of ume blossoms in the air.
A school excursion for young children led by their teacher.
Cute JRT begging for treats
Many varieties are cultivated here, some with very elegant sounding names, like 白加贺, 月の桂, 鹿児島紅 etc.
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.
Time for a group photo!
Looking somewhat bored, duncha thing? But so kawaii ne!!!
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.
More white plum blossoms…
Osaka Castle overlooking the plum garden. Naturally this became a subject for the many photographers and artists who were there that day.
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.
Then we saw one of the photographers “trespassing” the boundary to place a worm on the petals. Very curious indeed…
After 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!
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.
Azuki 赤小豆 Red bean paste filling on the inside and wrapped with pickled sakura leaves creating rather wonderful textures and taste!
Another group on excursion, senior citizens and retirees.
Closeup on a plum blossom, pretty in pink…
More random shots…
An elegant ginger, though a bit wary of the camera, just outside the walls of Osaka jo, on the way to Osakajokoen Subway Station.
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.