Tom Cruise and Osaka Castle

You know this this “Handsome Role” right?…

The picture is a scene from the movie “The Last Samurai”, when Captain Nathan, played by Tom Cruise, honorably fights with the leader of Samurai, namely Katsumoto, played by veteran Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, against the soldiers of Emperor Meiji who are trained by American Army. The background of this war is “Modernization vs Feudalism”. Emperors glorified modernization and Samurai maintained tradition.

Those are just a few of many heartbreaking mosaics that made Japan’s history when it transformed from a conventional country to a modern one. One such mosaic is Boshin War, a civil war which left a mark of destruction and was recorded in this historical place which I visited.

Yups….This is Osakajo….People call it as Osaka Castle or Osaka Castle.

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On 09:50 hours, I stepped on the platform of Tanimachi 4-chome Station, then exited through one of its gates where Osaka Museum of History and Hoenzaka Iseki proudly stood in station’s courtyard. My steps continued to be connected on Uemachi-suji Avenue with red maple tree decorations on both sides.

Its strong history made Osaka Castle be my first destination in the city with a nicknamed “Manchester From East”. I really didn’t want to delay and lose my first glance at king’s palace which is more than four centuries old. The distance is only six kilometers from Kaga Hotel where I stayed and the availability of Osaka Metro line to it made it so easy to access this destination.

Did you dare to introduceing yourself to her?

Not long in walking, I arrived at Osaka Castle, through Otemon Gate to be exact. Otemon Gate itself is on east side of palace, while on its west side is provided Aoyamon Gate. Like an ancient palace, this place is surrounded by a wide canal nearly a hundred meters long as a form of defense.

Passing a bridge, pedestrian path began to direct every tourist to enter a side of Otemon Gate. It began with a door made of two towering steel sheets. After that, plastered walls which made from fine andesite, some of which were left intact with a length and width of almost five meters.

Soon the second gate greeted. The gate with a size larger than the first one was nicknamed Osakajo Tamon-yagura which was composed of large, intact and sturdy wood. Through this second gate, tourists would automatically enter palace area which had an area of ​​not less than six hectares.

In some fragments of its history, it’s told that this castle was destroyed by fire due to the Boshin War in 1868. Now the Boshin War itself has been illustrated by Tom Cruise in the preambule at the beginning of this article.

Osakajo Tamon-yagura
Osakajo which on fire…..

I arrived at southern courtyard, call it as Osaka Castle Park. This is where tourists gather and enjoy the elegance of castle made by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the leader of Japan’s Sengoku Period. I took time to take pictures with old samurai role in castle grounds. Even to got rid of loneliness, I often have fun posing behind a group of tourists who were taking pictures. Grinning horses, jumping, waving or whatever I did. Sometimes it made one of that group pointed at me while laughing after seeing their photos in their digital room. Seriously acute.

After an hour of enjoying Osaka Castle, I decided to sit down and enjoyed the Ikayaki which I bought from one of many food truck which was neatly lined up in east courtyard. A portion of Ikayaki was priced about 300 Yen. Ups, do you know Ikayaki?…. It was a large grilled squid seasoned with mirin (Japanese seasoning).

The original samurai armor is usually in black colour, right?.
A food truck in Osaka Castle.

Finishing in eating Ikayaki, or at exactly 10:30 am, I started to leave Osaka Castle area and planned to head to Naniwa City District.

Where would I step?………

Magazine, Osaka Metro and Osaka Castle

A quarter of an hour to nine….I left Kaga Hotel in Nishinari City District after leaving my backpack in reception area. I rushed to Dobutsuen-mae Station. But first, I had to stuff something into my stomach before arriving at station. Since midnight last night, when I arrived in Osaka, I haven’t eaten a bite.

I decided to look for the nearest convenience store. On the way to station, I found a FamilyMart on the edge of Saka-suji Avenue. I won’t be munching on onigiri again for breakfast. I’ve been bored since two days ago routinely chewing that food. Finally I chose a cup noodle and immediately took the queue in front of cashier. Waiting my turn, one by one, FamilyMart customers completed their payment. I only reflexively followed forward when the queue in front also advanced, but actually my eyes never looked ahead.

Cashier : “Hello”

I still didn’t budge.

Cashier: “Hello”

I still thought thar it was the turn of someone who queueing in front of me

Cashier: “Helloooo….Sir. You…..Sir”.

Me: “Oh it’s my turn, sorry” The cashier just smiled when he saw my face was red with embarrassment. Damn….She and the queue behind me were grinning in unison because they caught me staring at a corner of a shelf with many adult magazines neatly arranged. Luckily the cashier didn’t offer me to buy the magazine….I was embarrassed.

This kind of thing is common in Japan…..

After paying, I headed to a dispenser. Pour hot water into cup noodles and took a corner of that convenience store to eat it.

Cashier: “Helloooo Sir, eat outside, please!”

Ohhh….I was embarrassed, expelled out again, even though I was avoiding cold air outside. In the end, I still ate my cup noodles while standing in front of minimarket while chilling happily….My fate.

Moments later, I were eaten all my noodles until there was no gravy left. I continued to the north. Arriving at the intersection of Abiko-suji Avenue, I immediately headed underground through one of gates belonging to Dobutsuen-mae Station which is on the south bank of main road.

Me: “Hello, How can I get a One Day Pass, Sir”. I made sure not to buy it too long like what happened two days ago in Tokyo.

Security Officer: “Doko e ikitai desu ka?”, apparently this man couldn’t speak English.

Me: “Osaka Castle, Sir”.

Security Officer: “Hooooohhhh….”. He didn’t even know

Me: “Osakajo”.

That security officer then smiled nodding and ushered me through a corridor and then he pointed to an automatic vending machine.

“Arigatou Gozaimasu”, I told him. Even though if you are looking for a machine like this, I can too. Is the One Day Pass sold separately from the machine, that’s what I meant…..Hmmh.

Never mind, I started hitting that automatic vending machine button. I could smile with relief because this machine was not as complicated as the one in Tokyo. I put in a 1,000 Yen sheet, pressed the “ENGLISH” button, continued to the “CARD” button and finally I found the “ONE DAY PASS” button for 600 Yen.

That night was the first overseas New Year’s Eve for me. I purposely bought an One Day Pass because I was going home after midnight, after New Year’s Eve Countdown of course.

Now I was getting ready to take Osaka Metro. It was also my first time experiencing subways in Japan after having only tasted surface trains nine times in a row since my arrival in Tokyo.

I started at Midosuji Line and then changed to Tanimhaci Line at Tennoji Station. Drove north for five kilometers and within fifteen minutes, I finally arrived at Tanimachi 4-chome Station in Chuo City District.

I immediately exited through the exit gate where Osaka Museum of History building and the historical landmark Hoenzaka Iseki are located. From there, I continued along Uemachi-suji Avenue towards Osaka Castle which was only one kilometer away.

Osaka Museum of History.
Hoenzaka iseki, 5th Century warehouse building in Japan.
Isn’t that a maple tree?
I arrived at Otemon gate of Osaka Castle

Let’s exploring Osakajo…..

Go to Shin-Imamiya Station from Kansai Airport Station

I already have a ticket worth 1,060 Yen to go to Shin-Imamiya Station in Naniwa City District. Meanwhile, time continued to move away from the dawn. I was still standing on one of platforms, waiting for JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service train to arrive. On another platform, a train with a futuristic design was parked waiting for its scheduled departure.

Haruka Express Train bound for Kyoto. It costs 3,400 Yen one way. Interested?….

Not long after, the conventional model train slowly but surely slowed down entering platform from northeast side. Within seconds, the metal wheels squeaked against steel track and came to a complete stop in front of me. An officer immediately docked at the front of the carriage and stood watching towards the rear end of train. After all passengers got out, he waved at me and directed me to enter the train. Maybe he had been observing me as a foreigner who lookedhj a little different from most passengers.

I was going to go up…. It was cheap.

I entered the first carriage and took a single left seat near the door. Fifteen minutes to go to seven in the morning, when JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service started speeding away from Kansai Airport Station. Heading north towards downtown.

Not long after the train was running, the first spectacular view appeared from carriage window. The vast expanse of Osaka Bay decorated with a tinge of dawn became a beautiful charm to welcome my first morning in Osaka Prefecture.

After four kilometers, the train crossed a steel bridge which straddled the bay. Then passed under a flyover which stretched along the beach in Rinku Town area. The combination of the calmness of bay, the tinge of dawn, the situation of half-dark streets and city lights which have not been reluctant to go out, beautify the rhythm of my morning journey.

Rinku Town area.

The sight paused for a moment at Rinku Town Station. The train had to drop off and picked up some passengers.

Leaving Rinku Town Station, the train continued on Nankai-Kuko Line. The Nankai-Kuko Line itself is a train line which starts from Kansai Airport Station in the south and ends at Namba Station in the north with a total length of nearly fifty kilometers.

Far away from Rinku Town, this time the scenery changed to a stretch of farmland located around Izumisano Town. The agricultural lands were combined with several small landing house complexes owned by residents. At some point, several medium-sized apartments began to appear. Meanwhile, dry rivers looked neat with guardrails at its edges.

Expanse of agricultural land and housing.

Within thirty minutes, the train began to enter the densely built urban area, in Nishi City District to be exact. There was no more agricultural land there. The view only contained housing, apartments, offices as well as health and shopping centers.

This time I myself would not complete the trip until the last stop point, namely Namba Station. I would stop at Shin-Imamiya Station, one station away before arriving at Namba Station.

I got off at Shin-Imamiya Station at fifty minutes of JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service train ride. I immediately left Shin-Imamiya Station on Abiko-suji Avenue. Then turned right, headed south down an five meters wide alley. After walking for three hundred meters I arrived at Hotel Kaga.

Along the way to Hotel Kaga, I walked with great confidence without needing to ask anyone about hotel location because I really understood route to get there from the map I brought.

I entered Kaga Hotel which was predominantly brick red in color. Greeted by a friendly male receptionist. But it was still too early to be able to check-in. I really only meant to leave my backpack and immediately explore Osaka until evening.

But to speed up the check-in process later, I decided to pay in advance. After receiving a receipt and placing my backpack in reception area, I finally left the hotel which costed for 1,800 Yen per night and headed straight for Osaka Castle.