For those following our adventures from the start you might recall that we were supposed to go to China before Japan!
Unfortunately due to a change in legislation while travelling – which means you can no longer apply for your visa on-the-road – we were unable to get our Chinese visas so we extended our stay in Japan and had to skip China altogether.
Despite being disappointed we were eager to explore Japan and glad of the extra time to do such a unique country justice!
Our first stop in Japan was Osaka!
After a long flight from Singapore we arrived in Osaka and headed to the train station. Unlike everywhere we’d been on our travels so far Japan speaks little or no English so finding the right train, platform and ticket was a scary prospect!
Fortunately we hopped on the right train and managed to find our hostel with only 5 minutes to spare before reception closed at 11:00pm!
The first thing that hit us on arrival in Japan was the weather, it’s a lot colder in Japan than anywhere we’d been used to over the last 10 months and having only packed T-shirt and shorts it was a shock to the system!
Osaka is a large city with a population of just under 2.7 Million but thankfully it doesn’t feel overcrowded. The city is full of quirky architecture and lots and lots of shopping malls with random art installations like glitzy Rhinos and giant, red whales!
If traditional is more your style then Osaka Castle is the place for you! The castle sits in beautifully landscaped gardens surrounded by streams and moats rising proud on the skyline! The castle is one of Japan’s most famous, and played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century of the Azuchi-Momoyama period.
The building is a beautiful mix of natural wood, white and gold and is absolutely striking and the surrounding park is stunning. We were extremely fortunate to be in Japan for Cherry Blossom season and with over 4000 cherry trees in the park it was an absolutely fairytale scene!
Osaka castle is an extremely popular spot during cherry blossom season for Hanami (flower viewing), a Japanese custom that involves laying down blankets under cherry trees (to catch the falling blossom) while enjoying food, drink and music with friends and family!
Continued in Part 2…