Nine days in and it’s back to Osaka (actually pronounced ossa-ka). We gave ourselves the day to explore, and the next morning we’d be back on the jumbo. There were three items on the itinerary, and we started with Osaka Castle.
Osaka Castle isn’t really what your average European would expect from a “castle”. There are no turrets or drawbridges. This castle is more like a multi-storey temple, but without the drab paint job. It houses a museum and a cool lookout gallery. It also gives you a great view of Osaka, which looked to be pretty built-up.
So, foreign tourist duties done, we headed downtown to see the Sky Building. Like Kyoto, Osaka is a big city. And like Kyoto, it’s designed for efficiency and not so much for aesthetics. Still, it’s interesting to see how the Japanese city folk live their lives, and it was pretty much the same as in Kyoto — politely and respectfully.
The Sky Building is unusual for a skyscraper in that it is actually two skyscrapers joined at the top by a series of passages and rooftop gardens with a bloody great hole in the middle. It’s the sort of thing I might have constructed from Lego at the age of seven whilst thinking, “that looks cool, but no one in their right mind would ever build it.”
I stood between the skyscrapers and looked up. I experienced reverse vertigo, which I last experienced in an English cathedral — the fear of falling up. I’m not great with heights of any description. We had the opportunity of going up the towers, but none of us felt like it. It was dinner time.
We then subjected ourselves to the weirdest meal experience of the trip. We had to queue outside a famous café for almost an hour (not happy), only made tolerable by conversations with fellow diners. Once inside, we had to order food from a coin-operated machine, and queue again for a seat. Eventually, we were directed into booths with serving hatches for a brothy noodle supper and well-earned biru.