Friday, 30 September 2016

The urban castle

Fri 30th Sept

        "When the black rains down on this cold gray town"
       When Greg Allmann sang these words nearly 30 years ago they were meant to be about Osaka so when I arrived here this morning I was a bit ill at ease.
      The sun beating down on Osaka soon changed that idea for as I walked out from the station after a brief hurl in a Bullet train from Kyoto I could see that the landscape had changed from one of industrialisation and a dank landscape to one of modernisation and a well planned city with modern office blocks dwarfing the station building.Even more so was the beach volleyball court which was situated about one hundred metres from the front door of the station.It was situated on the way to the spot where Lady Watson thought Osaka castle was so I had to take a few photographs of the  game that was being played.I took a few photos before I was accused of concentrating on the scantily clad females-perish the thought.
    After being dragged reluctantly away from the game we continued on our way to the spot where I was told the castle was.
       On finding the castle didn't occupy the choice of Lady Watson I asked a charming little lady in the local tourist office where the castle was she gave me instructions how to get there as it was a bit of distance away.We about turned and headed back to the station,stopping off for another look at the volley ball players,and jumped on a train to the nearest station to Osaka castle.
        The castle is right by the railway station and therefore we didn't have to walk far before we seen the castle moat which in itself was amazing.This was complemented by the overpowering walls which deterred all but the cunning few.
    After entering the gate we followed the path up the hill towards the castle itself and lo and behold it looked amazing especially as it still looked stately amongst the overpowering skyscrapers standing overhead.
      The only blot on the landscape was the lift that had been installed obviously not installed in the Edo period.
        The castle from the outside was amazing and looked like it had just come from the set of Shogun.After a brief look from the outside we headed into the castle being doused in a fine water spray as we went in obviously to cool us down as the temperature was in the nineties.
          The inside of the castle was just as amazing as the outside with all the displays from through the centuries including pictures,models and artefacts.
  Another lift had been installed which took visitors up to the fifth floor where you could continue up on foot to the top of the castle and view the surroundings.
   After a quick tour of the top visitors could make there way back down through the castle looking at all the exhibits bit by bit with pictures of all the warring families(some things never change)and also see the amazing artefacts ranging from swords,armour to the amazing letters and scrolls sent between the warring families.I had hoped to take some photos but this wasn't allowed on some of the floors as Lady Watson found out with a lecture from one of the staff.He sounded as though he didn't take prisoners.
There is even a stand giving you the chance to don a samurai helmet and wear a kimono which doesn't make for a fearsome warrior especially with some of the garish coloured kimonos.No I didn't indulge-that will come tomorrow.
We spent a good two hours going around the castle before heading for the ubiquitous visit to the souvenir shop where I purchased yet another T-shirt.I can hear Mr Ray shaking his head as he refers to me as the t-shirt man.A few more souvenirs were bought before we headed to Kobe and a place that Lady Watson had planned to visit the Kobe Nunoniki herb garden.It didn't seem that interesting till I found out that we had to get to the garden by cable car.
    As I said the fancy way up to this herb garden was up in a cable car which gave us great views of Kobe which is Japan's sixth biggest city.Kobe is one of the major ports and was also where You Only Live Twice was filmed-another one of the list.
     The cable car took us right to the top of the mountain where an incredible herb garden and fragrance museum is in existence.
We had a walk around the museum and had a chance to take in the fragrances that make most of today's perfumes.I even finally managed to smell both mryyh and frankincense and believe me I'd rather have Old Spice as a Christmas present.
       We finished off our visit by sampling some bratwurst(yes we are still in Japan but couldn't pass it up)before heading back down the cable car in order to catch the train home.
      Tomorrow our plans are to go our separate ways with Lady Watson heading to find some geishas whilst I head for the local film studios hopefully to be the only Scottish samurai around.
      See you when I see you

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