In April 2017 we made the fourth Trip to Japan coinciding with the flowering of the cherry trees. We started the trip from Kansai airport, near Osaka. Being close to this city and as on previous occasions we had only visited Osaka For a few hours, this time we decided to spend the first two nights in this crazy city. So, and for the first time in my life, I spent everything a day in Osaka. In this article I tell you what to see, what to do, what to eat and where to sleep in Osaka.
We start the day in Osaka visiting the Osaka Castle. The castle is surrounded by a garden full of cherry trees, so it is an essential enclave if you visit Osaka during the hanami. And just for that, it was worth visiting. In ancient times, this castle was one of the most important in Japan, but today only the main tower remains, which is actually a reconstruction of 1931.
In addition, the interior is totally modern. If this is the first castle you see in Japan, seeing it from the outside is fine. However, in our case we had already visited the himeji castle on the second trip and on this later we were going to see that of Matsumoto and Hikone (all three are national treasures of Japan), so we did not enter. Anyway, enjoying the cherry trees was a joy. Yes, even in spite of the crowd of people already there at nine in the morning.
How to go to Osaka Castle: To get to the castle we walked from Namba station (about 45 minutes). The nearest metro station is Tanimachi 4-chome (station T23 / C18). If you have the Japan Rail Pass, you can move along the Osaka Loop Line to Osakajokoen station.
Stroll along the shore of the O River (Okawa)
This is another of the enclaves to visit in Osaka during the hanami or cherry blossom. After visiting Osaka Castle we went on foot to the river bank O and we walk along the riverbank where about five thousand cherry trees line up until we reach the Kema Sakuranomiya Park. Dozens of food stops were installed on the promenade, but almost every morning they were closed. We do not reach the park, since at the height of Senpukan we turn left to go to the Shinto shrine Tenmangū.
Osaka Tenmangu Shrine and Tenjinbashi-suji Street
Surrounded by large buildings we find this sanctuary dedicated to the Shinto deity of studies: Sugawara Michizane. At the time we visited there was hardly anyone, only a Japanese couple who made a photographic wedding report. Here it is typical to put votive tablets with the desire to have good fortune in the studios (3000 yen). In addition, this sanctuary is also known for celebrating one of the festivals (matsuri) most famous in the city and across the country: the Tenjin Matsuri which is celebrated on July 24 and 25.
Then we went to the nearby one Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street. It is a covered street about 2 km long (maybe the longest in Japan) and is a good place to eat. Here we zampamos a plate of udon with kakiage (500 yen) After lunch we approached the Minami-Morimachi metro stop (T21 stop, Tanimachi line) and went to Higashi-Umeda (T20 stop) (price 180 yen). We only went to the next station, but that way we saved half the distance to the Umeda Sky Building. If you use the Japan Rail Pass you have to take the train at Ōsakatemmangū station to Kitashinchi station (Tozai line).
KuchuTeien Observatory (Umeda Sky Building)
When we left the Higashi-Umeda subway station we turned around a lot because we couldn't find the underground passage that connects directly with the Umeda Sky Building. This building is perhaps one of the most emblematic of the city. It was built in 1993 and its design is by Hiroshi Hara. The structure is formed by two towers 173 meters high that are connected on the 39th floor by a plant with a large open circle which is accessed by escalators. All with great spatial aesthetics.
On this floor the KuchuTeien, a great observatory where you can enjoy the views of the city. Actually I am not very observatory lover, because as a general rule it is more beautiful to see the building itself from outside than the views from above (a good example is the BurjKhalifa from Dubai). Although on the other hand, go up to New York Rockefeller Center Yes, I liked it. Anyway, we gave it a chance despite the 1000 yen that it costs to enter. Unfortunately, that day was cloudy and raining, so the views were not very beautiful, really.
After this visit we go down to the basement of the Umeda Sky Bulding where there is a restaurant area set in the first years of the Showa period (1926-1945). The area was very well maintained and, in addition, we saw a post office where we took the opportunity to send some postcards.
When leaving the Umeda Sky Bulding, we go to the Umeda station (M16, Midosuji line), this time by the underpass. There we take the subway again to Dobutsuen-Mae station (M22, 230 yen). With the Japan Rail Pass you can take the train at Osaka station and take the Osaka Loop Line to Shinimamiya station.
Visit to the Shitennoji and Isshinji temples
From the Dobutsuen-Mae metro station it takes about twenty minutes to reach the temple Shitennoji. This is one of the oldest temples in Japan. It originally rose in the sixth century to introduce Buddhism in the country. Obviously, the current building is not the original one, since it has suffered several fires throughout the centuries. Even so, it has always been rebuilt respecting the original. We did not access the treasure or the garden (300 yen) and the temple itself did not enchant us especially.