Japan is well known for its festivals and events throughout the year, but the Cherry Blossom season is probably the most famous. The Sakura festival season is generally between late April to mid May, but earlier and later blooming varieties can be found in many parts of Japan. They begin opening in the south and gradually open later the further north you go. On the Japan Guide website you can track the cherry blossom season and plan your trip accordingly.
Day 32 – April 4th, 2014.
A wonderful sleep in this morning. After we refreshed ourselves we got into some work. This took most of the day but we did sneak out for some ramen from our local eatery. It was very windy in the night and all the bikes at our place had been blown over. I picked them up on our way to lunch.
“Osaka Castle to view the illuminated cherry blossoms”
Todays arrangements was to make our way to our friends Toshi and Yumi dental clinic for 7pm and then go out for dinner.
We managed to get the right trains without a problem and consequently arrived early, Toshi was still working, so we waited while he saw his last patients.
Our wait was not long and they soon closed up. We took their car towards Osaka Castle to view the illuminated cherry blossoms. The drive was about 30 minutes and was great for us to experience. All very clean, and the roads busy at this time of night. The car is very quiet almost as if not turned on!! It also has a TV in the front dash, one of the new Hybrid cars. In fact that is why the streets are so quiet, because of all the hybrid cars that make little or no noise, Toshi mentioned that this can be very dangerous as you no longer can hear the cars coming.
We park near to the castle and then walk… It is VERY cold, even Toshi remarked at how cold it was. With the entry paid at 500 Yen each, we walk in. The grounds are illuminated and showing off the cherry trees with bright lights of different colours. The castle is also lit up, all very pretty. People are having parties in groups on tarps on the floor with drinks and food, don’t they feel the cold! A lady with her pet monkey perform some tricks, poor animal.
Unfortunately to get even closer to the castle it costs extra, Toshi is not impressed and remarks that it’s a shame as he used to come here each year as a student and this was his first time back in over twenty years. We spend half an hour here as Yumi and Windy (their dog) are waiting for us.
Not sure why it actually costs entry as you don’t get to see in the castle, only just the grounds!!! but hey it was nice. You can read more about our visit to Osaka Castle during the day which costs 600 Yen.
“the neon lights of Shinsekai and the Tsutenkaku Tower”
Next we head back to the car and warm up as we drive to Shinsekai district to have dinner. After parking and this time leaving Windy in the car we head towards the neon lights of Shinsekai where the Tsutenkaku Tower stands at the center of the area. The tower has a resemblance to the Eiffel Tower in Paris as it was built following the same principles.
The place is rather quiet for a Friday night and many of the restaurants are closed by 9pm, even though the Japan guide writes there are many open late even 24 hours. We are hit up by a street restaurant pimp who walks us to a restaurant. This place has a few dinners and we are shown to a sunken table, we remove our footwear and climb into our spot.
“tonight’s Osaka speciality is kushikatsu”
Beers arrive and Toshi orders. It’s not long and the food begins to arrive. First up is an appetiser of braised beef, very tasty. Then tonight’s Osaka speciality is kushikatsu and it comprises of skewers of, but not limited to, squid, prawn, beef, pork, asparagus, cheese, daikon, pumpkin which are crumbed or battered and deep fried, all of which you dip in a sort of soy sauce. Very yummy. Also raw cabbage leaves are dipped in and eaten just like that. No double dipping so you use the cabbage as a sort of ladle for the sauce if you need more.
We eat plenty as per normal with Toshi and with a few more beers and we are pretty full. Back to the car and after a short drive we arrive at Tenoji subway on the Tanimachi line. How fortunate that are home is situated on this line, it connects us well with most places. We say goodnight and head home.
An awesome evening spent viewing cherry blossoms in Osaka followed by a fine dinning experience in the Shinsekai district of Osaka, what a great city.