It’s been something like eight or nine months since we purchased our plane tickets and booked hotel rooms for our upcoming trip to Japan, and we’re rearing to go. In less than two weeks we’re going to fight insanely heavy traffic (not really, we’ll take the subway) to get to the train station and ride down to Busan. We’re going to spend a night in Busan before hopping over to the airport for the short flight to Japan the next morning. We might even be up early enough to see the rising sun on our way to the airport to fly to the Land of the Rising Sun.
It’s going to be a pretty short trip, only five days, but that’s okay because there’s few places in the world as expensive as Japan and we’re going to have to indulge a bit to eat well and see the sights. Now, about those sights. We’re going to Osaka and Kyoto. Osaka is the “kitchen of Japan” and Kyoto is the “city of 1,000 temples.” There’s going to be plenty of sightseeing and food sampling to be done in our short visit. Here are five sights I can’t wait to set my eyes on when we make our first proper visit to Japan.
1. The Osaka Aquarium
Japan and fish go hand in hand in my head, although usually the fish is sliced beautifully and carefully placed on top of a ball of rice. This should provide a new perspective to carry around in my brain. Carolyn and I adore aquariums and zoos. The Osaka Aquarium is supposed to be quite a sight to see, too. It was the first aquarium to keep whale sharks if I’m not mistaken, and I’ve never seen a whale shark. It should be quite a good time. It’ll also be interesting to compare this to the aquarium in Busan that we visited a few months back. I think this is part of our plan for our first day in Osaka, right after we check into the hotel and drop off our bags. Should be fun, I imagine.
2. Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle is apparently quite an imposing sight. I’ve wanted to go to a Japanese castle for a really long time. We saw an episode of The Amazing Race the same day that we bought our plane tickets for this trip, and one of the legs of the race ended at Osaka Castle. Hello! Of course we want to go see it for ourselves now. I think that we may very well make it to the Umeda Sky Building at the same time. Any time we run into the opportunity to reenact scenes from reality television our hearts sing like a chorus of angels. Honestly there’s about a thousand sights I’d like to see in Osaka, but this is one of the must-see sights for our limited time.
3. Shinsaibashi Street Food
There was an episode of Anthony Bourdain – No Reservations that went on for almost 45 minutes about street food in Osaka, and just thinking about that episode still makes my mouth water. Once the sun sets we’re going to go out on a nomfest like Godzilla did in Tokyo, but without stepping on people and destroying cities and stuff. There’s so much food I want to try on those streets that my head could explode. Hopefully I’ll get to try a lot of it and my stomach won’t explode.
4. Fushimi Shrine
Of all of the shrines and temples in Kyoto, this is the one that I want to see the most. There’s something like four and a half gazillion torii gates on the path to Fushimi Shrine, creating a striking tunnel of crimson to walk through. I must admit that ever since I saw Shogun Assassin I’ve had perhaps a little bit of an unhealthy obsession with these traditional Japanese gates. I can’t wait to walk underneath them. What might be even better is to dress Carolyn up as a baby and push her around in a wooden cart whilst wearing a Samurai’s kimono and carying a couple of swords.
by David Offf
5. Gion District
The Gion District of Kyoto is supposedly what old Kyoto looked like before it became new Kyoto, I guess. It’s also one of the places where you might catch a rare glimpse of a Geisha. This seems to be the tourist-centric cultural hub of the city that is the cultural heart of Japan, so of course it’s one of the places that we’re going to have to visit. I hope we’ll have a nice little rain shower as we eat dinner that stops just afterwards so we can see the streets glimmer like this. That would be pretty perfect, I think.