Japan Blog Study Tour

High and mighty…

IMG_1359 Like I posted a few days back, the 2nd day had a better start than the ending of the previous day. Even though we didn’t sleep much, it still helped a lot. Also, the weather was nice, with a clear sky and temperatures in the sun that made a coat obsolete. IMG_1367After the morning briefing we headed for the diner next door from the hotel. The diner uses a vending machine which has a button for each meal: you insert money, choose the meal you want and give the ticket to one of the staff. After some careful scrutinizing of the menu card I finally found something that looked pretty safe: something with egg and chicken.

As the breakfast took longer than expected, we left the diner 15 minutes late. Because it was a holliday in Japan – National Foundation Day – we headed for the Umeda Sky Building, one of the tallest buildings in Osaka consisting of two towers that are connected at the top where the Floating Garden Observatory is.IMG_1398


The Umeda Sky Building is 130 meters tall and you have to take an escalator, and elevator, another escalator and 2 flights of stairs to get to the top. On the way up, some old lady in a wheelchair had to go up and they had some sort miniature tank with rubber tracks to hoist her up the stairs. Even though slowly, it went surprisingly smooth.

When we finally reached the top, the view was amazing. We could see the airport where we landed, the sea that we saw when we approached Osaka and some of the big train bridges we by now (its Wednesday when I type this) have used to get to other places.

After a lot of pictures, we headed for the Fushimi Inari: a Shinto temple in the small town of Inari. During our trip to get there we first went from Osaka to Kyoto (our first, very brief visit to Kyoto where we will be staying next) and then we boarded the train to Inari.

IMG_1504 When we finally got there, the first thing we saw was the line of cars to the parking lot of the temple. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who thought of visiting the temple on the holiday. We first split up in front of the temple and were told to rendes-vous there again in a few hours time. The first thing that became obvious was that although the temple was pretty nice (actually its a lot of loose buildings and paths on the mountain rather than what I would imagine when someone mentions a temple), it was obvious that the tourism factor was high: there were vendors everywhere selling all kinds of crap.

We looked around for a while and then found a path looking like it was leading away from the commercial zone: it was washed away, some pieces paved and other not and it was taking us through an awesome bamboo forest. After a while we wandered into a load of small shrines. When we walked down another few stairs we found people praying to some of the shrines and we concluded that this was probably the part for the Shinto themselves, rather than the tourists.

IMG_1610 When we walked on we came to a road and we asked some guy which way “Inari Eki” was. After his dad helped with the directions in Japanese to tell us where to go, we set off down the mountain. Halfway down the road, we moved to the side of the road to let a white car pass. While it passed I saw grandma and grandpa in the back wave at us while their son used the claxon.

When we entered Inari again, we found some vending machines for some refreshing drinks. By the way, the stories are true, on practically every corner in Japan there is at least one vending machine! One the way back to the station we found a Japanese graveyard next to a smaller temple which looked a lot like the main temple style.

When we got to the station again, we crashed the supermarket next to the station for sandwiches, cookies and drinks. We lunched next to some small shrines halfway up the road to the temple.

After lunch, we headed to the Dotombori neighborhood in Osaka. This area is famous for its neon signs from movies like Blade Runner. Because a movie can say more than a thousand words:


And this one but now with night vision on:


IMG_1704 When we finally found the restaurant where we had reservations everything was nice. Looking back, 2 of the group got food poisoning from the food we ate there but the stuff I ordered was fine (I even found french fries on there).

After the dinner everyone split up and we crashed the Star Bucks for some decent desert and then went home.

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