Back to Japan: Osaka

Another adventure begins with boxing up our two bicycles and heading to the airport. Bicycles and airplanes, however, are a headache. I found a decent price to Narita from İstanbul and figured I could add the Antalya-İstanbul leg later. Nope. It was going to cost hundreds of dollars (US$700? or was it US$900?) to fly with our bikes to İstanbul. I had never seen such pricey flights for that route before.

Buses, however, were reasonable — less than US$100 for two people with bicycles, including a taxi in Antalya, an overpriced porter in Esenler (where we transferred), and even some meals. I had never taken a bus from Antalya to the İstanbul airport before. Turned out to be easy.

That overnight bus ride was followed by an overnight flight to Narita via an early morning layover in Ulaanbataar where I was able to stretch out and sleep a bit. I’ve never been to Mongolia. Here’s what it looks like taking off in the morning at the beginning of November.

The only bit of Mongolia I've seen -- from the air leaving Ulaanbataar airport by bryandkeith on flickr

On the Japan end our only business in Tokyo was to drop off the bikes at the hotel where we’d be staying three weeks later. Our goal was to get to Kyoto to meet my Dad. That meant another overnight journey (!) — a bus from Tokyo to Osaka.

Dropping our luggage in Tokyo was easy (as was the Narita to Tokyo bus):

IMG_20231101_192057 by bryandkeith on flickr

and check out the rose arrangement at the Imperial Hotel:

IMG_20231101_185307 by bryandkeith on flickr

In a bit of a travel stupor our first meal in Japan was at a Chinese beer bar before leaving Tokyo.

IMG_20231101_202426 by bryandkeith on flickr

We arrived at our hotel in Osaka in the morning about 53 hours after leaving home. However, as expected, we couldn’t check in till eight hours later — definitely a day of dazey sightseeing.

First stop was Temmangu Shrine, a shrine dedicated to — what a surprise — Michizane! On one of our first days in Japan four years ago Ferda and I visited the shrine at Dazaifu where people go to touch the statues of the ox that carried Michizane from the Kyoto/Osaka area to Dazaifu on Kyushu. There’s an ox here at Temmangu as well:

IMG_20231102_090402 by bryandkeith on flickr

The poet Michizane has turned into the god of learning, and students come to Temmangu to pray for good grades, perhaps via written requests on white pieces of paper:

IMG_20231102_085524 by bryandkeith on flickr

or maybe on small wooden tablets:

IMG_20231102_085617 by bryandkeith on flickr

What a coincidence to run into Michizane again. In spite of learning a bit about the Heian Period and even specifically Heian poetry on this trip, we never heard Michizane’s name again.

IMG_20231102_090509 by bryandkeith on flickr

Next we had a nice walk over to Osaka Castle

IMG_20231102_100232 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231102_120111 by bryandkeith on flickr

where we made the mistake of going inside to the very crowded museum where (I think) we were supposed to learn something about the defeat of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and the start of the Tokugawa Shogunate. It was too much information on too little sleep. We did, however, get some views of the city.

IMG_20231102_112911 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231102_123949 by bryandkeith on flickr

What a great find to stumble upon a 10-seat soba noodle place for lunch. We squeezed into the only two empty seats at the end of the counter.

IMG_20231102_131539 by bryandkeith on flickr

We checked into the hotel at 3pm. I was sleeping by 4pm and actually slept almost a full 12 hours — amazing. Hungry at 4am I walked out to the street where a taxi was waiting, an older woman was walking home with groceries, and a corner bar was busy with half a dozen youngsters eating and drinking. Finding a bowl of noodles and a coffee was simple.

It was nice to feel a bit more alive the next day. Second breakfast:

IMG_20231103_094608 by bryandkeith on flickr

We came across a flea market near our hotel

IMG_20231103_101027 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231103_100803 by bryandkeith on flickr

and then took the subway a bit south to Namba where we visited unusual Namba Yasaka Shrine.

IMG_20231103_111141 by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231103_110910 by bryandkeith on flickr

Nearby Dotonbori is known for its restaurants, but we weren’t hungry yet.

IMG_20231103_120445 by bryandkeith on flickr
Dotonbori by bryandkeith on flickr
IMG_20231103_115516 by bryandkeith on flickr

I thought this building was an interesting mix of traditional and modern:

IMG_20231103_114329 by bryandkeith on flickr

Ferda and I took a train for the short ride to Kyoto and met my Dad that evening. Arriving on a 12-hour Los Angeles-Osaka flight, it was his turn to be jet-lagged.

Next up, a week in Kyoto.

IMG_20231105_154339 by bryandkeith on flickr
This entry was posted in Japan, Mongolia, Traveling and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Back to Japan: Osaka

  1. Mike Painter says:

    Looks like a nice start! I’ve never been to Japan, aside from a stop at Narita, to and from Beijing.

  2. Jennie Werner says:

    How nice to be able to spend time like this with your Dad! (and Ferda, of course!)

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