Day 9: Osaka

First night I haven't slept too well. Ribs and neck are sore from a lack of cushioning!

We both attempted to straighten our hair to look presentable but due to the humidity, it only lasted until outside the front door!

Breakfast today consisted of a bit of this and that. I had two soft boiled eggs (from 7/11), yoghurt with banana and some vegetable juice.

It was threatening to rain so it was decided to try out the hop on hop off bus. We went to Osaka station and as soon as I whipped out the map to find the bus stop, a lovely lady asked if we needed assistance. She then lead us to where we had to wait for the bus before departing her own way. Her English was pretty damn good!

We waited for the bus and were joined by a couple from Sydney. The bus trip was $30 which is a bit pricey but overall it was sort of worth it. We were able to visit parts of Osaka we necessarily wouldn't have seen otherwise.

Our first stop was Shitennoji Temple. It is one of the oldest temples in Japan, dating back 1400 years. The pagoda was beautiful but the temple itself was covered with chipboard due to cleaning/restoration purposes. We visited the Tokoin Shrine next door which had a pond with tortoises in it. Whilst admiring the tortoises, an elderly gentleman approached us - wanting to try out his English with us - and told us everything from how much he loved Hugh Jackman to his karaoke skills whilst intoxicated. He was a funny character. Before he left he said “Osaka not good for sight seeing. Good for eating” I think we both agreed with him.

We walked a few blocks to a different shrine and this particular shrine was difficult to get to. One the map that was provided, it led us into a cemetery and then into a different shrine called Oejinja. We eventually got to the Aizendo Shrine that is infamous for a stone bench that you press you lower back against due to its stony projection to ‘cure’ back pain. We both tried it and we must say, we've been pain free all day (it's probably a placebo effect but hey, it worked!)

A convenience store was on the corner near our bus stop so rice balls and bandaids were purchased. Due to it being so muggy, my leather shoes were starting to rub.

Back on the bus, our next stop was Dotonbori. Doronbori is Osaka's liveliest night spot with restaurants upon restaurants. It got its name from the 400 year old Dotonbori-gawa Canal that runs adjacent to the street. Some of the restaurants have flashy signs including moving crabs, puffer fish and cows. We found a quaint place that sold Kushikatsu (deep fried things). We both had the Tonkatsu (pork) with rice and salad. I also had two panko crumbed prawns. Scrumptious.

Close to Doronbori Street there is Muizukake Fudoson Hozenji. A tiny temple hidden down some small alleyways. It was hard to find! It is a statue of Fudo-myoo, a Buddhist deity. People show their respects by splashing water over the statue, hence his mossy appearance! He is meant to grant wishes for love fulfilment. Jacinta and I both grabbed the biggest scoop of water and splashed him very well!

We walked back along Dontonburi before hopping back onto the bus. Osaka-jo (Castle). In 1583 after unifying the country, Toyotomi Hideyoshi built the castle to show his power. Unfortunately the castle we see today was built in 1931 after being used by the Japanese Army and is made of concrete but is nonetheless breathtaking. The gold trimmings and the contrast of the White Castle with the green gardens and blue skies is breathtaking. We took the lift to the 5th and walked up the 6 flights of stairs to get to the 8th floor observation deck. The cool breeze at top was refreshing and the view was spectacular. I didn't realise how expansive the city was until I actually saw it. High rise buildings right out to the mountainous ranges in the background.

To get back to the ground floor, you have to walk down the flights of stairs, you can't get the lift back. Once at the base, we sat down to relax but after a few minutes, I had a crow fly passed and poop on my jeans. The crow missed my white tshirt! I cleaned up and then we left.

Last time on the bus, we headed for Temmabashi-Hachikenyahama bus stop which was the closest to our accommodation.

We dropped off our bags (and I changed pants) before we went to a curry house. We had to order via a vending machine - all written in Japanese which proved to be a challenge but we finally received English menus! - and this curry house had squid ink in all of its sauces. We both had the beef curry with spinach and I added eggplant whereas Jacinta had broccoli and eggplant. Was a tad bit spicy in that I couldn't really taste the meat but the sauce was aromatic. $8 feed and we rolled out afterwards. Stopped to get food for breakfast before retiring for the evening.