A rainy day in Osaka
We arrived at Tempozan Pier, the main port for Osaka in Japan on a damp and dreary day. The first thing we saw was the massive Tempozan Ferris Wheel.
I can just imagine the dramatic views you must see on a ride on the 112.5 metre wheel but our plan was to make our way to Kyoto via the high speed Shinkansen (bullet train). Just like Kyoto, on researching we learnt that Osaka is a huge city with many stations and a superior train service. We easily found our way to the closest station, purchased our ticket and made our way to Shinosaka Station for our journey on the Shinkansen. The journey on the bullet was about 15 minutes and incredibly efficient.
From Kyoto train station we caught a bus and soon arrived at the UNESCO World Hertigate site, Nijo Castle which was completed in 1626.
You can hire audio guides, but we wandered at our own pace reading the signs which kept us well informed. This historic castle is known for the beginning and end of the Shogunate period.
Despite both the castle and the palace having been destroyed by separate fires, this impressive site has two moats surrounding massive stone walls and beautifully elaborate gates. The outer wall has three gates and the inner has two. Inside the inner wall are the remaining foundations of the five story keep destroyed in the fire in 1750. The large grounds contain several lovely gardens. The garden has several groves of cherry and Japanese plum trees, a large pond and topiary pine trees.
The largest building in the complex is the Guard House. There is also a Reception Room, Grand Chamber, an Audience Chamber and the Shogun’s personal chamber. There are also two Tea Houses within the complex.
A lot of details about the design of structures from this period have been learned from the five buildings in this palace complex. Gold leaf and elaborate wood carvings decorate the buildings. Inside the main chamber are screens painted by artists with rich colours and gilded depicting flowers, trees, birds and tigers. The most striking feature is the Nightingale Floors. The floors in the corridors were constructed to squeak like birds when walked on to alert the occupants from sneak attacks and assassins.
If you’ve been fascinated with Japanese history and the Shogunate era you simply must put a visit to Nijo Castle high on your list. These grounds are impressive, imposing and rich in decorative detail.
On our return back to Tempozan Pier we visited Legoland which has a lifesize giraffe outside. The giraffe is made from 330,000 Lego pieces. We went to Tempozan Marketplace, purchased an ice and sat and admired the giraffe while we ate it. Who said you rainy days had to be blah?
Would a visit to Ninjo Castle be on your itinerary for Osaka? Would you let a little rain put you off visiting such a large outdoor complex?
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