2013.12.09 - Osaka
Birthday weekend in Osaka
Paula has been on my case all year .... "you promised me a trip to Japan every year" was growing thin, so what better excuse than Paula's birthday for this year's trip across the strait?
And so it was that we flew to Osaka on a Saturday morning. We had gotten hold on some cheap tickets with Air Busan, but were somewhat surprised when the Japan's third largest city didn't appear to have any available hotel rooms for Saturday night. It took me three hours and three upgrades to our budget to find a room. So we headed straight for the Sheraton, left our bags and started exploring the city. We walked down to the castle past Ramen (noodle) shops, drummers in the park, weird antique warriors and newly weds. The castle is fully renovated and quite spectacular with large stones and a tall tower. The insides are less impressive with an uninteresting museum - the views from the top are good though.
Newly weds in the autumn colours of the Osaka Castle park
Even warriors have to do the dirty jobs sometimes!
The Osaka museum of History behind Paula
Osaka Castle moat
The time capsule behind Paula (to be opened in 4980 years or so from now) and the Osaka Castle tower
We weren't the only ones who think that the castle is photegenic
The museum inside the tower was a bit of a waste of time though.
We came across a traditional ceremony in one of the temples in the park surrounding the castle.
Very interesting even though we didn't understand anything
We just liked the costumes ...
Look closely - the fire brigade/rescue team on a Saturday training camp
Some strange canyon-crossing techniques were displayed !
After visiting the castle we took the train down to Shitennoji - an old shrine. From there we dragged ourselves back to the hotel on tired feet. Very tired feet.
Amazing autumn colours everywhere
Here at Shitennoji
One of the two bell towers of Shitennoji.
After a short rest we were out on Dotonbori - the walking street in Namba. This is where you will find the nightlife, the restaurants and the weird weird Japanese fashion displayed in the streets. After some time in Korea you get used to the singularity of Koreans. All look more or less the same in their hiking gear or HHI uniforms, but in Japan it is the opposite world. Hair and clothes in all colours is paraded in the street and I don't think I would ever tire from people watching in Dotonbori. We ended up at a sushi place (of course) for dinner. Sushi is just better in Japan.
Street concert and people dressed in cardboard boxes
The canal running parallel to Dotonbori
Completely black of people. Busy busy
Ahh - sushi!
Next morning we slept in :-)
It's important to do that when we have the opportunity, i.e. when we are not sleeping in the same house as Peo (she wakes us up at 7 o'clock every day). Bags packed we walked down to our next hotel across the canal by Dotonbori. After checking in and checking out the room at the Ryokan - the name for a traditional Japanese guesthouse) - we had breakfast at a small local bakery/espresso house. Why don't we have these things inKorea ?!?! It was even cheaper than similar offerings in Korea. Who said Japan is expensive?
Our room at the ryokan - complete with balcony and view of the canal
Being Sunday, we thought it was a good time to go to the Park, so we took the train down to Nagai Park. And from there to Umeda, which was a bit of a disappointment. We didn't really know before going there, but it is a business district. Probably not the best choice for a Sunday afternoon. Back to Dotonbori and dinner at a revolving sushi bar.
In front of the huge Osaka Stadium in Nagai Park
This Sunday a marathon was on, so we got a chance to visit the inside of the stadium
Revolving sushi !
Pet clothes shop !
Paula couldn't just ignore the Hello Kitty shop
Namba dressed up for Christmas!
We visited a local stand-up sake bar and made friends with the interior. Love this part of Japan - so easy to meet people. More difficult to communicate with them, but we always manage somehow. Sake was good also and in the end the bartender's mother gave Paula a small birthday present! Friendly people the Japanese.
Monday we had reserved for the aquarium. Osaka aquarium is very famous for it's two whale sharks. Although I really don't agree that whale sharks belong in an aquarium, it was pretty amazing watching them and the other pelagics at such close range (and without being wet!). We spent a good three hours in the aquarium! And then it was time to return to Ulsan again. A short trip which was very easily done on a long weekend.
Paula at the aquarium
Hehe .. penguins are cool!
World's biggest fish ... in an aquarium
Fascinating even in an enclosure
Must say that the aquarium was well made - and solid with 30cm thick acrylic glass
We spent a long time gazing at the sharks
... and the sharks at us
Whale shark feeding (or yawning - I wouldn't blame it .... how many rounds can you swim in a basin?)
A quick trip to Chile ...
If I say this is the best photo of me and the whale shark, then you can imagine how poor the others are!
Back home in Ulsan we had a few busy days ahead of us. Biking Wednesday night was cancelled due to poor air quality, dinner with our friend Mr Kwon and family on Thursday evening was on as was the bingo night with Chinese buffet on Friday evening and the Dolphin X-mas party at SeaSketch on Saturday. Sunday we went for lunch with Romi and Pierre and then later to see the movie "About Time" which was surprisingly good and non-violent!
Biking Saturday morning 7am Web and I almost cut a pedestrian in three parts. Simply hadn't seen him nor he us, until he all of a sudden found himself between us (we were riding only half meter apart)
Santa came to visit the club house Saturday afternoon
We were expecting him to leave the same way he came - on the back of Trygve's Ducati, but he was too busy with the kids, so we left before him in the end.
Håvard, Agnieszka, Paula and Oksana at the Dolphin Christmas party
The Dolphin band
Olav auctioning off the last raffle tickets. Two main prices went to the same person.... Buuuhhh ;-)
After playing the Ducati reindeer in the afternoon, it was Trygve's turn to shine as Santa himself. Use a belt next time, Trygve !
Just before Selena won the first of the two prices - a Ipad mini Air
Can't keep the girls off the dance floor
Ian Harris - you ol' party animal!
A couple of weeks ago a surprise storm hit Ulsan and caused three (3!!) ships to run aground within 500m of each other in Bangeojin
Here are two of them