Osaka and Osamu!
Considering the ease with which one can get to Osaka from Nagoya and the number of times I have been back and forth to Kyoto and Tokyo, it does seem odd that we had not visited Japan's second largest city till last weekend. Our only real pull was that we felt we "should" go, so, when Superman's parents expressed an interest we decided we would join them. On Friday we drove the, now familiar, road to Kyoto, picked up the in-laws and went straight through to Osaka.
The overall impression of the place? Urban SPRAWL. From the outskirts of town right through to the ports, Osakans live, work and play in high rise boxes which give way only to the extraordinary network of roads and railway lines winding in and around, over and through every available space.
Highlights of the trip were the evening spent in Dotonbori (a bustling shopping and dining district which is open all hours), the night view from the Floating Garden atop the Umeda Sky Building (where I played with my gorgeous new f1.8 lens purchased for just such evening photos) and the Sumiyoshi-Taisha Shrine. Sumiyoshi-Taisha is a pre-Buddhist Shinto Shrine, built in the 3rd century but, like most active shrines in Japan, it is kept looking like it was built yesterday - thatching and all. We arrived just in time to see a wedding procession and ceremony. I did not take shots during the ceremony though afterwards I turned and found, to my horror, that Superman had filmed the whole thing!
On Sunday we headed down to Kobe but it was pouring with rain so we headed for the Tezuka Osamu Museum and spent a lovely afternoon amongst the works of the man whose stories so inspired me as a child (sorry, no pictures allowed.) Though there was little English, it wasn't hard to understand his early four-panel comedy strips and it was fun getting some bemused looks from the Japanese as I laughed out loud. Catching chickens seems to have been the bane of his young existence! We also watched the full first episode of Atom Boy (Astro) which I had actually never seen (except the "alive!" scene, of course) again, you didn't need to understand the soundtrack to know exactly what was going on. It was wonderful to have made the pilgrimage!
As always, here is the Flickr Slideshow for you to peruse - apologies for the order, I really need to work that out. Enjoy!