After checking into the Hotel we went into the city for a look around and COFFEE. As the sun was setting, we made our way to the Umeda Sky Building to see the night lights of Osaka. The building which stands at 173 metres is made up of two towers that are connected to each other on the 39th floor by the “Floating Garden Observatory” and offers fantastic views of this beautiful city.
We then made our way back to the city centre and found a restaurant to taste the local Okonomiyaki, a Japanese-style pancake made using a batter of flour, water, and egg with shredded cabbage, meat or squid, grilled on a hot plate and topped with special sauce and mayonnaise washed down with lashings of Kirin beer.
The Metro in Osaka has a central loop line. When your hotel is located on this line one would be given to think that it would be impossible to end up in the wrong place. This would be true if you knew what station to get off the train at. I managed to pick the Loop line going the wrong way, went about 4 stops, didn’t recognise the station that I got out at, made a quick text to Phil, back on the loop line to Osaka Central, went 8 stops the other way and presto, home sweet home, the marvels of the mobile phone. The name of the station, “Osakajokeon” I’ll know next time!
From our hotel room we could see Osaka Castle, so the next morning we made the short walk over the bridge, up the slight hill, over the moat and into the Castle grounds. The castle grounds cover approximately 60,000 square metres (15 acres) and contains 13 structures including the castle itself. The buildings have all been designated as Important Cultural Assets by the Japanese government. The central castle building stands on its own piece of land, roughly one kilometre square and is 5 stories high from the outside and 8 stories high on the inside. The castle has had a chequered past. Construction commenced in 1583 and was completed in 1597. In 1660 lightning struck the gunpowder store; the subsequent explosion set the castle on fire. 1665 lightning struck and burnt down the main tower. Decades of neglect lead to much needed repairs being carried out in 1843. 1868 saw the castle burned again in the civil conflicts of the time. In 1928 the main tower was again restored only to be damaged again in bombing raids in 1945, final restoration began in 1995 and was completed in 1997. The castle is now a functioning museum.
That evening we went to see “Kooza” the Cirque du Soleil show touring Japan, and to catch up with Adelaide’s own Ben Todd, the drummer for this highly successful show. The show was fantastic with amazing acts, a fantastic band and great entertainment. Ben gets to feature in the second act with an amazing display of his drumming skills. After the show we stayed in our seats and waited for Ben to appear from backstage. He took us on a guided tour backstage. The whole backstage area is surprisingly small and compact with on site physiotherapists, warmup rooms for the performers, warmup rooms for the musicians, wardrobe , admin and canteen area. We then went out to dinner with Ben to one of his favourite Japanese Restaurants. Once again great food. It was great to see Ben; he is very happy and is loving what he’s doing, and as I said before, he is playing great. I can imagine how proud Sharon and Steve are of him.
The Osaka Aquarium was next on the list of things to do. This amazing aquarium is one of the largest in the world. As you walk through the tunnels, marine life from the habitats of the Ring of Fire area of the Pacific Ocean are displayed. There are 27 tanks containing 10,940 tons of water. The glass used in the construction of the tanks is acrylic glass, the largest pane measures 6 x 5 metres, is about 30 cms. thick and weighs about 10 tons. Regular glass can’t be used in the construction because at this thickness it wouldn’t have the transparency required to view the fish.
Japanese workers had a long weekend last weekend, Mon 10th was a public holiday, it was Health and Sports Day. This national holiday was established in 1966; a day to enjoy sports and cultivate a healthy mind and body. From our hotel window we could see that the playing fields below us were becoming very busy as the day wore on, there were tents, food stalls, bands playing, baseball and lots of other sporting activities, all being enjoyed by an ever increasing number of participants and spectators alike. As we walked along one of the many paths surrounding the castle we became swallowed up by runners of all ages as they completed the running of a marathon. We were swept into an area through an arched gate, to be greeted by lots of young Japanese women who were lined up waving placards to greet the tired and worn out athletes, and us, just out having a walk in the sunshine.
As we walked home via the castle we saw a small Temple in the shadow of the imposing Castle. It seemed like a good place to have a look around. As I got closer, like right at the front, almost in the door, I realised that a traditional wedding was taking place. Out the front I saw the apprentice setting up cameras for the old master photographer, then the appearance of the old master, complete with other bits of equipment issuing orders to the happy couple as they walked down the path away from the Temple. After a few shots on the path, they, along with the whole wedding entourage were ushered into an area that had been pre set with red carpet and chairs, all lined up with the Castle as a back drop. I watched as the old master gave directions to all gathered, positions were changed, hands were held different ways, people were made to stand up straight, hats were repositioned, all was done in an absolute flurry of activity, but, no-one smiled except for the groom. He was happy and wanted everyone to know it. By this stage I was down on my knees, camera at the ready; I wanted a shot of the happy couple. Alongside me the apprentice set up the master’s camera once again, this time complete with tripod. As the master turned around and began almost running towards my position, he began gesturing to me, “no photo, no photo” but it was too late, my trigger finger had beaten him!
The Happy Couple!
Lance and Barbara