Kobe / Osaka, Japan

                                                              Osaka Castle

April 10-11, 2010

Both Kobe and Osaka have cruise ship ports; this time we docked in Kobe.  The only real difference is in how long it takes to get to attractions in Osaka, because the two cities are connected by urban sprawl.   The ship arrived in Kobe at 2:00 PM, to a warm welcome from a high school band.  When the music was over we decided to take a walk and found a nice park just a short walk away.  Since the only thing we could see from the dock was highway ramps and train bridges, the park was a surprise.  

Our full day excursion took us to Osaka, a bus ride of about one hour.  Osaka Castle (above) was our first destination.  From the parking lot we had a significant distance to walk to the castle, through a gorgeous array of blooming cherry trees.  The castle tower is now a museum with exhibits on every floor, some depicting major battles, one of ancient armor, plus videos of events.  On one floor you can (for a fee) put on a costume and have your photo taken.  The eighth floor is an observation deck, from which there is a great view of the surrounding city.  The castle was originally built by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who unified Japan.  After his death, the castle fell in the Summer War in Osaka in 1615.

Our next destination was the Shitennoji temple, the first state-established Buddhist temple in Japan, which was founded in 653.  The inner gate is protected by statues of the Deva kings.  The five-storied pagoda houses relics.  One can climb to the top, but the view is partially obstructed by the roof supports.  This is a very active temple with many worshippers.  The grounds are well maintained, with neatly raked gravel in the inner courtyards, which are quite large.

Our next destination was the Ana Crowne Plaza Hotel, where we were to have lunch.  They served us a very traditional Japanese meal, which included pickled vegetables, smoked fish (including a very artistic whole sardine-like fish), tofu, and miso soup, and rice, plus some other unidentifiable things.  The rice, miso soup and the strawberry mousse they gave us for dessert were the best parts of the meal.  Everything was very artfully arranged in small bowls, some of which were in a beautiful red lacquered box.  This was not the kind of meal we would want to have again, even though we are interested in trying the local cuisines.  These photos are of the hotel lobby.

After lunch we drove around the city for a while before heading back to the ship.  We had a really great tour guide for this trip who taught us how to count from 1-99 in Japanese - really quite a simple system.  Osaka has other museums in addition to the Osaka Castle, as well as a world class aquarium.

Kobe has attractions as well, including a ropeway to Mt. Rokko and many museums, along with a Chinatown.  Also accessible from Kobe or Osaka, is Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, which has several well-known temples, among other attractions.  Kyoto is a beautiful city, well worth visiting.

There are additional photos of Osaka and Kobe in the album.

                                                                    Kobe, Japan

© Susan L. Stone 2015                   rovingstones@me.com