Saturday, 23 December 2017
The plan for today is to visit the major castles in Osaka, before heading to the airport for my late night flight back to Kuala Lumpur.
I woke up early and went for breakfast at Bills (website). Bills is a well known restaurant chain from Australia. I saw the branch in Ginza, back in Tokyo, but couldn’t find time to go. Now that I have some time in Osaka, I decided not to give it a miss. One of things I like about Bills (also known as Grangers in London), are the hot cakes (bottom left of photo above). True enough, the hotcakes didn’t disappoint.
After breakfast, I headed to my first destination of the day: Himeji Castle. Osaka and Himeji are connected by the JR Sanyo Shinkansen. I took the Hikari train, which took about 30 minutes.
Upon arriving at Himeji Station, I took the Loop Bus to the castle. The loop bus was located right in front of the station. It was just a short ride to the castle. In fact, from the station, you would be able to see the Himeji at the far end of the boulevard.
Built by Akamatsu Norimura in 1333CE, the Himeji Castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of Japanese castle architecture.
I paid the entrance fee and explored the internal part of the castle. I followed the crowd and climbed up the castle keep. The floors get smaller as we ascend up the narrow staircase. I also noticed a number of weapon racks on some of the floors.
After exiting the keep, I did a quick tour of the beautiful garden, and headed back to the bus stop. My next destination is to visit Osaka castle. I took the shinkansen back to the city, and from Osaka Station, took the JR train to Osakajokoen Station.
From the station, I walked past Jo-Terrace Osaka. I had a quick meal at one of the restaurants and then continued walking towards the castle. It was a pleasant walk along the park as I approached the castle.
I admired the castle complex from the outside as I didn’t have enough time to go in. Many other tourists were busy finding the best angle to take a photo too. Initially built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1583, it was severely damaged during World War 2. The government restored the castle in 1997 with modern features (using concrete, adding elevators etc) for it to be a fully functioning museum.
On the way back to the station, I bought a bunch of dorayaki as a snack. It tasted really food in the cold weather!
As I arrived at Osaka Station, I was still hungry and needed a proper teatime. I located a Max Brenner next to the station. There was a decent queue so I went in and got myself a nice hot coffee and waffle.
I took the shuttle bus service next to my hotel to the airport. It was 1,550 Yen (~RM55) to Kansai International Airport.
It was my first visit to Kansai International Airport. Since I had some time, I took a stroll around the airport to see the shops and facilities. I located a postbox for me to return the Pupuru device (pocket wifi). Bought some souvenirs for people back home and then I headed to the lounge for a shower.
The KIX Airport Lounge was really impressive. For a small fee, I was able to take a hot shower, freshen up, and relaxed a bit before going to my flight. The lounge also offered computer services, a manga (Japanese comic) library, food and drinks. Reflecting on my short Osaka trip, I wished I had more time to visit Dōtonbori and other parts of the city. Hopefully I’ll get another chance to visit Japan. All in all it was definitely a productive trip.