Montag, 9. April 2012

April 9 - Osaka, Kyoto

Yuki`s original plan for that day was to move from Osaka to Kyoto after breakfast. But because we were already "behind schedule" we decided, to go for the last remaining sightseeing point in Osaka first and then head for Kyoto.
This morning we had breakfast at the hotel (10:00 to 10:45) after checking out. Our suitcases were stored in the storage room and so we could take the train to "Tsutenkaku Tower" without carrying to much stuff with us. At 12:00 we reached the station and walked through a shopping and restaurant street towards the tower. I had a kind of strange experience with a drunken guy, who followed us for a while and really wanted to buy my sunglasses for 100 Yen ( approximately 1 EUR) :-) (of course he didn`t speak english at all, but Yuki translated later for me).
way to the Tower

Tsutenkaku Tower (=tower reaching heaven)

Some information about the Tower
I picked up the following information from the pamphlet:
The present Tower ist not the original one. Tsutenkaku was built in 1912. The original tower had an eccentric design that combined the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Unfortunately, it was dismantled in 1943 to supply iron for the war. The present tower is the 2nd  one, constructed in 1956 by the local citizens. In a real sense, you could call it the authentic symbol of Osaka.
The 5-story tower is 103 m high and the Observation Platform is on the 5th floor at a height of 91m.
Connected to the meteorological observatory, the neon turret at the top makes Tsutenkaku act as a weather tower. It indicates what the next day`s  weather will be through a combination of 3 colors.

look of the original tower
Japan`s biggest clock
The face of the big octagonal clock on the east side of the tower measures 5.5m in diamter; the minute hand is 3.2m long and weighs 30kg. At night, the colors of the engraved marks change every minute, thanks to a fullcolor LED display. And, at the time tone, the entire face changes its bright colors.
East side of the tower
After visiting the tower there was still one thing missing in Osaka: I had to eat "takoyaki" (= baked octupus). This dish is very famous in Osaka and according to Yuki "one of our must`s". They are similar to dumblings, but filled with octopus and a kind of barbecue sauce on the top. It was Yuki`s first time to eat the original Osaka Takoyaki too, she really enjoyed them but after having eaten 5 I really had enough:-)

just about to eat takoyaki
One the way back to the train station, I rubbed the soles of Billiken`s feet. Billiken is the God of Good Luck and a very popular figure at Tsutenkaku. To him people pray to pass school entrance exams, find mates, et.  This lucky mascot gained worldwide popularity, finally reaching far-off Osaka, where people still feel close to him as a god of the common people. It is believed that if you rub the soles of his feet, your wish will be fulfilled.
Rubbing Billiken`s sole
At 16:00 we were back at the hotel and took the speed train to Kyoto (16:30 to 17:00).
We ate italian food at the JR Kyoto Station (it was the cheapest one:-) and then headed for our first night in a Buddhist temple. The ride with the suitcases on the bus wasn`t really comfortable and I had problems to get out of the bus with my bulky suitcase.

how to ride a bus in Japan
Other than in Germany you get on the bus through the rear doors. Either you have an unit price or you have to take a small piece of paper from a machine close to the back door. One that piece of paper is number and you have to look for that number on a big display above the front window of the bus. Underneath your number the fare is displayed (depending on how long you are sitting on the bus). When you get out of the bus you have to leave through the front door. Next to the driver is a fare box and an exchange box. You have to throw the exact fare in the fare box, if you don`t have the exact amount ready you can exchange your monex using the exchange box. Sometimes you`ll find these instructions in japanese and english, written on a piece of paper and hanging from the ceiling of the bus, but the smaller the town is and the more you go to the suburbs or countryside the less you`ll find those information:-)
Of course I made a mistake on my first ride on the bus. I was ahead of Yuki, didn`t have the exact fare but threw everything in the fare box. The driver was a nice guy and gave me my change back:-)
When we reached the bus stop in front of the temple (Ninnaji Temple) it was already very late for checking-in. The doors of the temple were already closed and we had to ring a bell and wait for someone to open us.
In the temple it was very quiet. The "receptionist monk" explained a lot (it felt like an eternity) and later on, Yuki said that he talked mainly about the rules in that temple.
At that point I should add that Yuki asked me about my wishes in Japan before I went there. These were my requests:
1) following the cherry blossom
2) temple stay
3) Kyoto
4) eating swallen fish and local food in total
5) Mt Fuji
6) and of course the most important one: meeting all my friends
Yuki was surprised about my wish to stay in a temple and then she searched the internet and booked one whose rules weren`t as strict as the rules in most other temples:-). For example: we could choose weather to attend the morning work of the monks or not. In most of other temples we would have had to attend the morning work!
After checking in we first brewed some green tea and then ate some typical sweets I had just bought at Kyoto Station. Our room was japanese style with tatami mats on the floor and our beds were mattresses lying on the mats (= futons). There was only one:-) western-style toilet (all the other one`s were squat toilets = old japanese-style toilets) and the bathroom was also typical japanese. One of the temple rules said: no shower after 23:00 and so we took a shower after tea and sweets.
Bedtime was at 23:30 (=> actually far too late for the morning work the next day)
JR Kyoto Station

JR Kyoto Station

Kyoto Tower Hotel next to JR Kyoto Station

Futon beds in japanese-style room

having tea

special sweets from Kyoto (= Otabe)
I chose the chocolate taste:-)


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