Day 9: Church and Osaka Castle

Sunday I got shown the way to the station more directly by bike, and was picked up by Bishop Ozaki and taken to church.  It was a small branch, only about 35 people there, but there were two missionaries I met there who spoke English.  I couldn't really understand much of what was said, since people tend to use different language at church than they do in regular conversation.  However, I got the idea, I could sing all the hymns, and aside from the size and the language, it was pretty much just like every other church meeting I've ever attended.  The church is the same everywhere.  [For those of you reading who don't know me personally, I belong to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the Mormon church.]  After church, I got a ride back to the station, biked home, and soon departed with my host family for Osaka Castle.

Apartments on the way there.

Some interesting architecture we drove by.  I have no idea what this building is.
After we got there, our first stop was a big playground, where Ranmaru climbed around for maybe 10 minutes before we moved on.
Sadly, you'd never see playgrounds this dangerous in the US anymore.  It looked like a lot of fun.
After that, we headed off towards the castle, but not before passing by many other interesting objects, people, and scenery:
Ranmaru had fun walking in the fountain.  I didn't want to take my shoes off (and there were tons of people around) or I might have joined him.

The fountain was going taller than he was.

The area is basically a huge park.  People were riding those skateboards that twist in the middle, and I saw a few people on some things I'd never seen before.  Like a cross between roller skates and a skateboard: Two small boards with just two wheels on each, and you use one board per foot.  It looked really hard to use.

Interesting trees.  I don't know what they're called.  I asked Yukie and she didn't know either.

Someone was bouncing down the path towards us in an astronaut costume.  I have no idea why.
There were actually a lot of foreigners there, too.  I saw several American families, along with some Chinese and I think Koreans.  No one really looked at me as anything special there for once.
Osaka Castle was first built in the 1500s, but has been damaged, burnt down, largely destroyed, and rebuilt several times since then.  Still, some of the walls I was walking next to and climbing on were older than my country by a good century or two.  That's something to think about.
An impressive stone wall we were on.

...right next to a forest, right next to a cityscape.

Ranmaru kept worrying everyone by getting just a little too close to the edge, but we were never in any real danger.  Those grooves along the wall are presumably archer/crossbow slits.
The plant life in that area was really different from anything else I've seen here.  It was pretty cool.

An ancient Buddhist temple, I believe.

The wall that borders the moat.  The moat actually only goes about 3/4 of the way around, with the rest of it just being a huge ditch.  Apparently that's how it was originally, and no one knows why (I read that off a sign).

More cool plants.
The front gate of the castle courtyard.

A torii opposite the main gate, outside, and right next to a modern refreshment stand.
The stones that made up the wall were huge.  I can't imagine how hard it must have been to roll those into place.

Approaching the central manor.

An ancient cannon, apparently.
 At this point we went inside the manor, took an elevator (!) to the top, and looked around the area from above.  We didn't have much time to spend there, because it was closing in half an hour, but we skimmed through all the displays.  It was basically set up like a museum, and about half of it had English text next to the Japanese.

One of the coolest things I saw in there (at least I think so) is the blade of a short sword that was forged by the legendary Masamune.  It has his real name engraved on the blade as the maker.  The hilt was gone, apparently rotted away, but the blade that remained was very impressive.  I could clearly see the temper line, and the display said that there were traces of gold lines through it, but I couldn't see them.  I would have taken a picture of it, but photography and video was prohibited on that floor.
Yukie and myself after we left the manor.
We all enjoyed some ice cream.

Ranmaru, Hiroto, and I climbed up this wall.  They did it the easy way and went up the stairs.  I did it the hard way and climbed up the front.  Really.  (Only as high as Ranmaru is here)

There were many steps and walls.  It was most tranquil.

Each of the stones on the right side had some symbol engraved in it, but I couldn't read the sign explaining what it was all about.  They weren't Kanji, though.

The ferocious wild Japanese Neko.  There were many of them in the area.
There was a group of girls dancing to American classic rock, from the 60s and before, while the guys stood around and listened to/played the music.  You can't really see it here, but in addition to the girls wearing period-style clothing (mostly), several of the guys had their hair done up in classic Grease style.  It was pretty amusing to see.

Inko-san (Mr. Parakeet).  He has a live bird on his hat in this picture.  We later saw him riding his bicycle away, with the bird still on his hat.  I have no idea how he did that.

And that concludes the tour of the Osaka Castle park.  It was a busy, fun day.  For dinner, we went to one of those sushi bars where the food goes around on conveyor belts and you pick up whatever you want.  I had udon and a couple other not-really-sushi things.


  1. Cool castle. Do they let you climb up the walls all the way to the top or will you shot at by the archers?

    1. ...or will you GET shot at...Sorry my typing has so many problems (in this and other comments). It's late, I'm tired.

    2. I didn't try. Didn't want to risk it.

      As much as I wanted to, I figured at least one of those signs around probably said that you're not supposed to actually climb up the walls. I only climbed the bit I did because it was a place you were allowed to stand on normally.

  2. That castle is amazing. Especially that picture with the moat and the skyscraper in it.

  3. Dad says: Pretty cool. We viewed the last two days' worth together on the big TV at dinner tonight (Monday). But we didn't sing any karaoke (said Timothy). Mom says: the interesting trees look like junipers, perhaps ones that had been trimmed when they were younger. The castle is amazing. Dad says: We recognize a lot of the foods there from the anime series we've watched, and a lot of the places look familiar, such as the bridge, classroom, ferocious cat, etc. Paul says: Looks like fun! Eat more fish eyes. For real--try some real sushi. Timothy says: I like how the Japanese are celebrating our heritage with classic 50s attire. He also wished the girls here dressed like that again. Dad adds: unlike the anime characters. Paul wants to know: do you wear detachable sleeves every day? We say: we love you!