Last weekend a group of friends and I managed to see Osaka and Kyoto. It was great to see some more traditional Japan, which can be difficult to find in such a modern city like Tokyo. We were able to take the shinkansen (which was $220 round trip; a pricey train!) and experience the cities for all they have.
Temple Japan students Carlos Casademont and Megan Smith head towards Osaka Castle.
In Osaka, one of our must-see’s was Osaka Castle. It was originally built in 1583 CE, but was burned down in 1868, and later bombed during World War II. This building was rebuilt completely in 1997.
The castle towers over everything in the area, and you don’t realize just how big it is until you get closer to it.
TUJ students Carlos Casademont and Megan Smith stop for a photo outside of Osaka Castle in Osaka.
The ponds surrounding Osaka castle were beautiful and it couldn’t have been a better season to visit than late spring.
One thing that makes Osaka different from Tokyo is that escalators “flip”. In Tokyo, you stand on the left side of the elevator. As seen here, in Osaka, you stand on the right.
Osaka is known for having some of the best food in all of Japan. “The ramen’s broth was so ‘on point””, commented Temple Japan student Carlos Casademont.
This was one of our restaurants signature Miso Ramen, with some pork in it. It was absolutely delicious!
At the restaurant we went to in Osaka, they were known for their famous gyoza. It was by far the best I’ve ever had.
Osaka at night has so much to do! We passed so many pachinko parlors, karaoke studios, movie theaters, and even saw this giant ferris wheel coming out of a building!
One must see in Kyoto is the Fushimi Inari Shrine. This Shinto shrine specifically was made for the Inari-kami, hence it’s name.
The shrine at the bottom of the mountain has many buildings, and there are multiple shops to purchase shrine-related gifts, food, and typical souvenir gifts.
Fushimi Inari shrine conveniently had tons of places to pray and throw yen into, for your wishes and prayers.
The sun peaked out a little for a magical moment, but like every trip I’ve taken so far, the day got very cloudy and rained a little. This moment, however, really brought the tranquility and beauty to Fushimi Inari shrine.
Temple Japan students Carlos Casademont and Megan Smith head up Fushimi Inari Shrine among the Torii gates.
These woodblocks are available at multiple shrines all over Japan, but this shrine specifically in the shape of a fox, for the Inari-kami. These are for writing your wishes on, but lately it seems that they are a way to display your level of art.
My logic at an early morning hour said “Wear my yukata and climb up to the top of Fushimi Inari Shrine. It’ll be fine.” It wasn’t fine. Here though, TUJ student Megan Smith and I snapped a photo with the Torii gates BEFORE we had made it to the top.
Each torii gate is donated by a local business, and businesses all over Japan now. There are over 10,000 torii gates now!
These fox fountains followed us up the whole way to the top, creating a melody of dripping water to lead our way.
The view of Kyoto at the halfway point at Fushimi Inari Shrine was incredible!
Our miraculous moment as well finally reached the top of Fushimi Inari Shrine.
TUJ student Carlos Casademont looks out over Kyoto from Fushimi Inari Shrine.
Kyoto Tower was greeting us right as we left Kyoto Station. This is not to be confused with Tokyo Tower in Tokyo.
At Kyoto Station, there was a display for the new Dragonball Z movie, featuring the dragon Shenron from the show (and movie).
One temple that is really close to Kyoto Station is Higashi Honganji, a Buddhist Temple specifically in Pure Land Buddhism.
The purification fountain at Higashi Honganji was quite ornate. To enter, you must take the ladles, pour the water in your left hand, then right, and pour some water in your hand and sip it. Do not drink think water though, so make sure to spit in out in the appropriate area once you’ve sipped it.
Sadly, photographs are not allowed inside of Higashi Honganji, but the outside of the building is gorgeous and tranquil.
Osaka and Kyoto are places you just cannot say you didn’t see in Japan. They hold some of the traditional values of Japan combined with a fantastic array of culture, food, temples and shrines, and more! I’m glad I was able to go before I leave Japan, and they are one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.