I’ve been so excited to get day two of my Japan trip up as it was definitely one of my favourite days of the whole trip. If you’ve missed day one which featured a lot of sleep deprivation, jet lag and shopping then you can read that here. Without further ado, here’s what we got up to on our second day.
This is ever so slightly cheating as the title says Osaka, however we traveled out of Osaka on day two to visit Himeji. It took us around an hour to get there via tubes; Charlie’s friend had recommended that we had to visit Himeji Castle as she loved it so much, so we had high hopes. It is named one of Japan’s most spectacular castles as it’s so well-preserved, large and beautiful. It is over 400 years old and seems to somehow be indestructible, surviving World War II when Himeji was heavily bombed as well as the Great Hanshin earthquake in which the castle survived virtually untouched. It’s a hot-spot during cherry blossom season as there are long rows of trees along its huge open area of grass. We visited Japan just before maple leaf season was beginning so although we didn’t see them in full bloom, we did get a glimpse of some of the gorgeous orange tones coming through as you can see from some of the photos.
The entry fee for the castle was ¥1300 which also included entry to Kokoen Garden, located next door. This converts to around £9 which I thought was so affordable for how much we got to see and how incredible the castle is. The main complex of the castle is six stories high; it was a little bit of a workout to climb up the steep stairs to the top but it was definitely worth the view. From the sixth floor, you can see how many different walkways and wings the castle holds which really showed just how big it was. I was pretty dumbfounded at just how well the castle has been kept over all these years.
As well as the main complex, we were also able to explore the west wing which was historically the residence of a princess. I couldn’t believe how long the wing was, it felt like we were walking for what seemed like ages and there were so many different rooms. We were unable to take photos inside but just as the main complex, it was in perfect condition and absolutely stunning. I honestly could have spent hours walking around the castle and its gardens as everything was just so aesthetically pleasing. This was definitely one of my personal favourite places that we visited throughout our time in Japan, I would strongly recommend it to anyone visiting.
I’m definitely more of a countryside and nature kind of girl as opposed to a city girl so I was really excited about visiting my first Japanese garden. I’d spent hours prior to our trip just searching them on Google Images and staring longingly at all of the natural beauty.
Kokoen Garden definitely satisfied the nature lover in me; there were nine separate gardens, a pond with a waterfall and a tea ceremony house that were all individually stunning. I honestly could have moved in there, I felt so peaceful just wondering around taking everything in. I think the photos speak for me in this case and this is really where I fell completely in love with Japan.
After so much walking around, we were more than ready for some lunch. There were a few restaurants and food stalls opposite Himeji Castle and we ended up going into a restaurant called Tamagoya.
This is where I fell in love with beef gyudon; this was a bowl of steamed rice topped with beef, spring onions, seawood and a poached egg that you stir in as it is served to you, binding everything together. I’m not sure exactly what sauce was drizzled over the top but it was a perfect mix between sweet and salty. This is a really hearty meal that makes the perfect comfort food and was perfect after all the walking. I actually think this was probably my favourite dish of the whole trip, I could’ve eat bowls upon bowls of it.
Before we knew it, the day was turning into night and Charlotte suggested that we visit the Umeda Sky Building back in Osaka. This is an 173 meter tall building made of two towers, joined by an observatory floor named ‘The Floating Garden Observatory’ that features an open-air deck. From here, you can view the whole of Osaka in all its glory and it looks so stunning at night with all of the different lights coming from the city.
Unfortunately, they were doing maintenance work on the observatory floor so we weren’t able to access it. However, there’s also a floor below that’s basically a massive white room surrounded by glass so that you can view Osaka from all sides. In the end, I wasn’t too bothered about not being able to go onto the observatory deck as apparently you can feel the wind up there and it gets quite strong sometimes which I think would make me feel a little bit sick. I already felt a little uneasy being so high on the floor we looked out from but there was glass surrounding us so I felt a bit safer. I know that the deck is obviously made safe for the public but I can get a bit funny when it comes to heights, I’m sure it’s an amazing experience nonetheless though.
I found it quite difficult at first to get good pictures without getting a reflection of myself but I figured out that if I press my camera lens right up against the glass, this pretty much eliminates the problem – just a little tip if you do ever visit this floor or anywhere similar. I would say that Umeda Sky Building is an absolute must if you’re visiting Osaka, it’s really quite breathtaking to see the city as a whole. As I say, I went at night at the lights looked incredible but I imagine it’s also particularly stunning at sunrise and sunset.
So that’s it for day two – other than going back to the Airbnb to refuel with convenience store food and sleep.
Are you more of a city or a nature person?