“The grounds of Osaka Castle”

Osaka, Japan. November 2018 (18 photos)

This is part 10 of my Japan 2018-19 photo series.

So we leave the otherworldly ambience of Kyoto’s Arashiyama bamboo grove in my previous post and head toward the metropolis of Osaka. After visiting Kyoto I spent about a week touring around the countryside of Japan before arriving to Osaka, Japan’s second largest city, and arguably the foodie capital of Japan for a 3 night stay. As you may have guessed my main mission in Osaka was food, but I’ll restrict this post to my Osaka wanderings.

“Osaka Castle”

The original Osaka Castle was completed in 1583 and was attacked and damaged/destroyed several times in its history, most recently during WWII air raids. In popular culture, it was destroyed during a fight by Godzilla in the 1955 movie, Godzilla Raids Again. James Clavell featured the castle in his most famous work of historical fiction, Shōgun. It was also featured in the James Bond movie, You Only Live Twice.

“Above Osaka”

A view above Osaka from the 60th floor of the Abeno Harukas building. The 60th floor is just a perimeter around a giant atrium. You know you’re high up when the emergency exit door has an arrow that points up and is labelled “Emergency Heliport”.

“View from the 60th floor”

“Only in Japan”

“Not quite black rain”

The movie Black Rain was based in Osaka.

‘Mizukake-Fudo”

The small Hozen-ji temple was established in 1637. During WWII the temple was destroyed in a bombing raid. However, one temple statue survived and it has now become a famous symbol of this district. The statue was of Fudo Myo-o, a Buddhist spirit that represents discipline and firm moral character.

According to local stories, about 80 years ago a lady made a wish here by throwing water over the statue. Because the wish came true, now everybody does the same. As a result the statue is now completely covered in moss and is nicknamed “Mizukake-Fudo” or “Splashing water Fudo”. The moss gives it an incredibly calming aura, particularly at night.

“Osaka twilight”

This is the view from the observation deck on the 39th floor of the Umeda Sky building. The open air 40th floor floating garden bridges across the two component buildings that form the sky building. Unfortunately it was closed for repairs when I visited as it had been significantly damaged during a typhoon a few weeks earlier.

“Umeda Sky Building”

Interestingly there is no direct lift access to the observation decks. You must ascend in an elevator to the 38th floor. Then you take the escalator to the 39th floor. The up and down escalators actually traverse the large open space between the two buildings as you can see above.

“Capturing Osaka”

Osaka is one of those cities that comes to life at night. I’ve tried to capture the atmosphere of Osaka after dark in these next few photos.

By the way, Osaka is famous for its covered shopping streets. In the background above is Shinsaibashisuji, a 600m long covered shopping street. Another such covered shopping street, Tenjimbashisuji is 2.6km long.

“The Glico Man”

No post about Osaka is complete without a mention about the Dotombori and the Glico Man.

The Dotombori is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Osaka running along the Dotonbori canal from Dotonboribashi Bridge to Nipponbashi Bridge. It is characterized by its over-the-top atmosphere. At night, the Dotombori is ablaze with the neon lights of large billboards and TV screens. However, the most popular sign which has lasted over 70 years, is the Glico Man sign at the Ebusubashi bridge (above). It simply shows an athlete crossing a finish line in a victory pose. The Glico Man has enduring popularity amongst the locals and it is seen as an icon of Osaka within Japan.

“Tradition vs Modern”

Unlike in Kyoto, a woman in a kimono wandering around Osaka is most likely to be a local, not a tourist.

“Yokocho”

Old style alleyways or yokocho can be found all around Osaka (and Tokyo) and host tiny eateries, pubs and shops, sometimes dating back to the early postwar years. Many eateries on yokocho seat less than 10 patrons and are a cheap authentic food experience. The alleys are also ideal for discovering the less formal sides of Japanese culture.

“Hidden Osaka”

A small restaurant on a narrow yokocho lane. I ate at a similar place nearby, just a narrow shop with 6 seats at a counter. The lovely lady owner who commuted from Nara daily spoke some basic English and I enjoyed some delicious home made gyoza with an abundant serving of sake. Osaka does these hidden cozy restaurants very well.

“On the Streets of Osaka”

“Inside Osaka”

“Sake time”

“Osaka nights”

Out and about in Osaka, like moths attracted to bright lights.

This is part 10 of my Japan 2018-19 photo series.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Osaka Wanderings

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70 thoughts on “Osaka Wanderings

    • Thank you. Those small restaurants certainly make the big city seem like a more cozy and personal place. A Japanese couple came in whist I was eating. The owner told them that I was from Australia. The man smiled and said “kangaroo”. That had us all laughing. 🙂

  1. I think I can write a nice fairy tale about the splashing water fudo…. Think about it” this cursed person will come and make a wish, only for the wish to turn on her and endanger the entire city?? It could be Godzilla in the city all over again

  2. Interesting photo essay of a place I am not likely to visit. I’m not happy where there are crowds of people. And those escalators. Are they really in the open air or does it just look like that? If so, I’d be terrified!

    • Fortunately the escalators are enclosed (but not claustrophobia inducing) but you can see out. Yes, the crowds can be overwhelming once you get into the main tourist areas.

    • Osaka is a big city and the Dotombori overflows with people even on “quiet” nights. But just one or two blocks off the main strips and the quiet yokocho alleys give a completely different sense of time and place.

  3. Heide says:

    What a fascinating look at Osaka you’ve given us! Were you at all wary of being on the 60th floor of a building in an earthquake zone? Although the Japanese are fantastic engineers, it would still give me the willies. Loved your juxtaposition too of the crowded shopping districts against the quiet shrines and small restaurants. Wonderful post!

    • Thank you very much, and that’s a very interesting question. In short, yes.
      Back in October 2017 I was in Mexico city for 5 days, a month after the earthquake that killed 300 people. Damaged buildings and homeless people aplenty. Even my room on the 6th floor of the hotel had signs about what to do in an earthquake. There are signs throughout Japan warning about earthquakes, tsunami and typhoons and offering suggestions on what to do to maybe survive. I just maintain a healthy level of caution and remember there is a greater chance of being killed in a car accident on a daily basis.

      • Heide says:

        I’m relieved and grateful I’m not the only one who considers such things, Mr. Draco. I grew up in Mexico and Perú, and unfortunately have never gotten over my mistrust of plate tectonics. You’re right though that we’re much more likely to perish in a mundane traffic accident. I’ll keep that in mind during my next cab ride. 🙂

        • Yes, mountainous areas are beautiful places, but people forget how they are formed. I remember my friend in CDMX had a vibrating earthquake warning app on his phone. Two red lights meant say a prayer. Incidentally his apartment was condemned after the 2017 earthquake.
          Having said all that, the “emergency helipad” exit sign on the 60th floor in Osaka didn’t inspire confidence in case of emergency.

        • Heide says:

          Oh my. How distressing would be it to always be waiting for that earthquake app to fire?! No, gracias. You’re right as well about the empty reassurance of that emergency helipad, because what are the chances a helicopter would be handy when a strong tremor struck? I’ve got to give you credit for making me feel better about living in Minnesota. 🙂

  4. That’s a lovely city! I’ve only been to Osaka on work in hurricane season (leaving on one of the last flights before the airport was closed), and it seems from your photos that it is definitely worth going back to.

  5. Fantastic Osaka post. Beautiful photos and interesting narrative. Did you try the skewers? They are original to that city. The district with all the neon was surely interesting to walk at night…and we were there around Halloween which was a hoot.

    • Thanks, Jane. I can imagine Halloween on the Dotombori to be complete madness. I was in quieter Kyoto on Halloween but I was in in Shibuya the weekend before Halloween – the crowds were incredible. Yes, Kushikatsu skewers and Takoyaki (fried octopus balls) but I baulked at the more modern Gyoza hotdogs. 🙂

  6. josypheen says:

    I love these, you have captured the feeling of Osaka perfectly! Your Japan photos just keep getting better and better!

  7. Funny how the Godzilla story is a very popular one and as you might now there were more movie variations. Nothing like a lovely hidden cosy restaurant serving home made dishes. Hope you enjoyed all the food 😊🍜🥗

    • Considering the role of anime, manga, cosplay and the such in Japanese culture, icons such as Godzilla and Ultraman are bound to be popular and in fact, there are statues dedicated to them around Tokyo.
      Yes, the small restaurants can feel like you’re eating in someone’s home at times. It’s a very casual and friendly atmosphere. I particularly like the various sweets and desserts you can buy in Japan (as you may have guessed) and the variety of ramen has opened my eyes.

  8. Beautiful post, full of interesting things and written at a good pace. You should see if the Japanese tourist organization could use it, as it is certainly making the country tempting.

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