Osaka is the third largest city in Japan. It was know as Naniwa and used to once be Japan’s capital city. The famous Osaka castle is there. The highlight of Osaka was the Universal Studios.
It was relief to see all the signs in English for the first time in Japan so when my younger one insisted that I go for the ‘Back to the future’ ride I readily accepted thinking ‘how bad could it be?’ We were led into a room where a lady in a smart red suit play acted (all in Japanese), telling us what was about to happen. The tension was building up as her voice went from a whisper to a high screech and she dramatically threw her hands into the air in despair. Of course we did not understand a word. The scientist from Back to the future then appeared on a large white screen and a comforting sense of ‘all will be well’ seeped through my very anxious nerves. Then he starting talking in Japanese and looked more alarmed than the lady in red. There was no hope. We were led into another room and then onto a simulator. I was sure we were about to die when the machine started and I am convinced that the whole experience was more traumatic than it had to be as we could not understand the language!
We then went to the Jurassic park ride. I am not one to get onto any rides if I can help it but I thought it would be a mild one being a water ride and I have never seen anything worse! Dinasaurs appear when you least expect them to as you ride along the river by the jungle in your boat. Large metal crates shake in their hinges and as you appoach them they fall close to your head.. With all the dramatic twists and turns we finally came to a large dinasaur that opens it’s mouth and it felt as if the boat was going straight into its torso. As we were trying to contemplate our fate the boat just dropped. I do not even want to guess the angle and the drop we went down but it went on forever and was very steep. I can honestly say that my heart must have stopped beating and my gut was in my mouth. The most embarassing part of it was that there were two ladies who were bought to the ride on their wheelchairs. They must have been over 90 years old. When you see the picture of the ride they look relaxed and as if they are having the time of their lives. I will not show you what we looked like! The look of terror on our faces!
All in all a good time in Osaka and then it was time to take the train to Kyoto.
Kyoto – the much loved city of Japan
Stepping into Kyoto was like stepping into another world. Parts of it reminded me of old cities in Switzerland and Italy. It was like going back in time. The cherry blossom was beautiful. The streets old and quaint.
We visited one temple in Kyoto and it was the Kiyomizu-dera. We could have spent another whole day there as there was so much to see. It is a historic temple located halfway up Otowa Mountain and was established in 778.
There are many beliefs in Japan and in the temple there were certain drinking holes with metal cups at the end of poles. It is said that if you drink that water it brings you luck and success so both locals and tourists were drinking the water all along the way.
One can buy good luck charms to pray for specific events.
Kyoto Jishu Shrine
For 1300 years Japanese young people have looked up to and relied on Jishu Shrine as the dwelling place of the god of love and matchmaking. Young people want these charms (shown above) to pray for their future happiness and parents want them to pray for their children.
In front of the main building there are two stones set ten meters apart. These are the love-fortune-telling stones. If a person walks safely from one stone to another with closed eyes his or her love will be realised.
An Artist at work
A little girl dressed up
More Cherry Blossom trees
The Kiyumizu stage was built using a special method: huge 12 meter high Keyaki pillars have been assembled without using a single nail and the floor was installed using more that 4100 cypress boards. The view of the center of Kyoto from the stage is magnificent and is enhanced by the cherry blossoms. Kiyomizu-dera (the temple of clear water) was named after Otowa Waterfall. Water from the spring in the mountain has been falling there since its foundation. This is the lucky water to drink. Fifteen colourfully painted halls and pagodas stand in its precincts.
This bought me to the end of our short tour of Japan as we boarded the plane back home. It was one of the most enriching experiences culturally as the Japanese have maintained their identity and ways more than any country I have been to.
Sayonara Japan and Arigato