Wednesday, 3 January 2018


Kimi and Elchi in front of Ôsaka Castle


Some history 

Ôsaka, located in the Kinki area, is Japan’s second largest metropolitan area after Tôkyô with over 19 million inhabitants. Ôsaka is a merchant city, which was formerly known as Naniwa. In the 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣 秀吉, 1537-1598) built Ôsaka castle here. 

Ôsaka also has been known as the "country’s kitchen" (tenka no daidokoro, 天下の台所). This is not due to its rich cuisine; rather it refers to the fact that it was the center for rice trading during the Edo period (1603-1868). Many new businesses were first established in Ôsaka and spread from here across the nation. They include department stores, retail markets, and supermarkets. Still, Ôsaka retains a merchant lifestyle with an emphasis on practicality, informality, and pragmatism. Ôsaka was and is famous for its popular culture such as Kabuki, Bunraku or Karaoke, which originated here and became popular even overseas. On national television, comedians who speak the Ôsaka dialect – the only one which challenges the monopoly of the Tôkyô dialect – dominate entertainment programs. 

Ôsaka Castle
The Kansai area differs even in food and taste. Kansai residents prefer Udon noodles, while Tôkyôties prefer Sushi. After the colonialization of Korea in 1910, many Koreans came or were brought, to Japan as a cheap laborer for the flourishing industries in the Kinki area. Even though many of them turned home after the end of WW II, some 600,000 chose to settle in Japan. Today, Ôsaka is the population center of permanent Korean residents in Japan, with about one-quarter of them residing here. In Ôsaka Tsuruhashi there is a traditional Korean market and Japan’s largest Korean Town.

In the air raids of WW II, Ôsaka was severely damaged. Today, Ôsaka is a modern city with few old houses but it contains numerous urban canals and bridges, many of which are prime examples of the latest bridge-building technologies. Thus, Ôsaka has a unique atmosphere, which explains why it is also dubbed “Ôsaka Aquapolis”.

In Ôsaka there are five major tourist areas. (1) In the north, you will find Ôsaka and Umeda Station area including Sonezaki Kitashinchi Nightlife Area, Nakanoshima, and Tenjinbashi. (2) In the middle of Ôsaka you will find the Ôsaka castle park area including Korean town; (3) Further to the south located is Shinsaibashi shopping district and the neighboring Nanba area, including Dôtonburi, the famous markets of Ôsaka and Denten town with its numerous shops selling electronic goods. Not far away is (4) the Shitnennôji area including Shinseikai. Finally, far to the south is (5) Sumijoshi taisha shrine, the most important shrine in Ôsaka.

Transport in Ôsaka 
Ôsaka’s main station is Umeda Station. Umeda Station is served by the following railways: Hankyû Railway (Kôbe Line, Kyôtô Line, Takarazuka Line) Hanshin Electric Railway (Main Line) and the Ôsaka Municipal Subway (Midôsuji Line). Umeda is connected to the North with Shin Ôsaka Station (Shinkansen) via the municipal Midôsuji Line. It runs further North to Senri Chûô, where you can change to the Ôsaka Monorail. One important stop on the Monorail is Itami Airport. The last stations before Senri Chûô are operated privately by the Kita Ôsaka Kyûkô Railway Line. To the South, the Midôsuji Line connects Umeda with Shinsaibashi and Nanba Stations. The neighboring Ôsaka Station, which is within walking distance, is the JR Station, where you can board the Loop Line that circles 19 stations in central  Ôsaka city. There are two tracks: an inner one that runs counter-clockwise and an outer one that runs clockwise. On the outer, clockwise track are several important stations such as Sakuranomiya, Ôsakajô kôen (Castle), Tsuruhashi (Korean Market) or Tennôji. 
The complete railway network map can be found here....

(1) The north of Ôsaka: Ôsaka and Umeda Station area

View from Hankyû Office Building
Umeda station (梅田駅) in northern Ôsaka is the busiest station in Ôsaka. Nearby Ôsaka Station (大阪駅) is within walking distance and connected by a large complex of underground shopping malls. In fact, there are three stations with the name Umeda Station, including Hankyû, Hanshin, and Ôsaka Municipal Subway. The stations are also connected by underground tunnels, which are lined with shops, restaurants, department stores or hotels above them. Here you can wander around for hours, which is a good choice for a rainy day.

View from Umeda Sky Building
Worth for visiting is the Hankyû Office Building (梅田阪急ビル オフィスタワー) within Umeda Station. Take the elevator to the Sky Lobby, located on the 15th floor of the building. Here you can enjoy a fine view of Ôsaka. Since there is also a convenience store located on this floor, it is a perfect place for a having a coffee with a view. 

You can enjoy a beautiful view also from Umeda Sky Building (Umeda sukai biru, 梅田スカイビル), which is one of the tallest buildings in Ôsaka. The building features a rooftop observatory, The Floating Garden Observatory, with stunning views of Ôsaka (entrance fee). At the base of the building is an urban garden with walking trails and water features. It is located some minutes walk away from both stations. 

 Sonezaki Ohatsu tenjin dori   
Located just south of Ôsaka Sation is the
Sonezaki Kitashinchi area (曽根崎北新地), the most famous nightclub and entertainment district of contemporary Ôsaka. Here you will find Sonezaki Ohatsu tenjin dori shotengai shopping arcade (曽根崎お初天神通り商店街), which is more famous for dining than for shopping since it is packed with eateries, bars and other entertainments, where you can taste plenty of local Ôsaka specialties. 
Ohatsu Tenjin, Ôsaka
Once upon a time, Sonezaki was a quiet wooded area and the setting for the tragic love story of the geisha Ohatsu and the apprentice trader Tokubei, which ended with double suicide. The story was brought to fame by Japanese dramatist, Chikamatsu Monzaemon (近松 門左衛門, 1653-1725), entitled “The Love Suicides of Sonezaki” (Sonezaki shinjû, 曾根崎心中). Because of this romantic association, there is a famous shrine at the end of the arcade called Tsuyu no Tenjinja Shrine (露天神社), which is the guardian shrine of the Umeda area. However, locals call the shrine Ohatsu tenjin (お初天神), named after the heroine of the tragic love story. Here you can write your prayers for success in love on special wooden plaques called ema (絵馬), many of which bear the image of Ohatsu and Tokubei.

Ôsaka Tenmangu
Tenjinbashi suji shopping street (天神橋筋) is the longest straight shopping street in Japan, which stretches approx. 2.6 km from the north to the south. Here you will find more than 600 shops and restaurants. Do not expect luxury shops, since here it is where the locals shop. Everything is down to earth here – a great difference to Shinsaibashi shopping street (see below). Since the shopping arcade is covered, you can enjoy wandering around even on a rainy day. Located just steps away from Tenjinbashi shopping street is Ôsaka tenmangu shrine (大阪天満宮). It was founded in the 10th century and is one of the most important of shrines across Japan that is devoted to the Shintô deity of scholarship, Sugawara no Michizane.  Tenjin matsuri, which is held annually July 24 and 25, is ranked as one of Japan’s top three festivals, besides Kyôto’s Gion matsuri and Tôkyô’s Kanda matsuri. 
Ôsaka Museum of Housing and Living
The Ôsaka Museum of Housing and Living (Ôsaka kurashi no konjaku kan, 大阪くらしの今昔館), situated along the shopping street, presents a glimpse of the streets of Ôsaka during the Edo period through recreated houses, which visitors can enter. Here you can take a walk through time and experience the history of Ôsaka.
Taiyûji, Ôsaka
The temple Taiyûji (太融寺) is located in the middle of downtown Umeda. It belongs to the Shingon Sect of Buddhism and was found by Kôbô Daishi (弘法大師, 774-835) in 821. After several destructions and rebuilding it burned down in the massive air raids on Ôsaka during World War II. After the war, temple buildings were reconstructed once more, as seen today. The statue of the goddess Kannon (the temple's principal image) and a stone statue of the deity Fudô myôô are still enshrined in the temple after escaping damage in many fires. In one corner of the precincts is the tomb of Lady Yodo (Yodo dono, 淀殿, 1567-1615), the most favored concubine and second wife of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and mother of his successor Hideyori (豊臣 秀頼, 1593-1615). In 1880, an alliance was concluded at the temple to require that the National Diet be inaugurated in Japan, which is said to have triggered the nationwide spread of the Freedom and People's Rights Movement (Jiyû minken undô) in Japan.

Nakanoshima, Ôsaka
Nakanoshima park (中之島) lies on an island in the middle of the city, sandwiched by the rivers Dôjimagawa (堂島川) and Tosaborigawa (土佐堀川), tributaries of the Ôkawa (大川) that branches at Tenma. This popular park was the first park ever to be built in Ôsaka. It hosts a fine rose garden and many business and administrative buildings, including the city hall of Ôsaka with a good souvenir shop in its basement. Further, you’ll find museums and other cultural facilities, such as the Museum of Oriental Ceramics (Ôsaka shiritsu tôyô tôji bijutsukan, 大阪市立東洋陶磁美術館), which has a proud collection of 4,000 pieces and exclusively exhibits oriental porcelains from China, Korea, and Japan. The island is paved with sidewalks and multi-lane roads along the waterfront and has several bridges, that you might easily visit it without realizing it is an island.

Kimi and Elchi in Nakanoshima
From here it is just a 5 min walk to Ogata Kôan’s Residence and Academy (Ogata Kôan  tekijuku, 緒方 洪庵適塾), the former residence and academy of Ogata Kôan (1810 -1863), a preeminent scholar of rangaku, or Dutch, studies, which he established in downtown Ôsaka to teach medicine, natural history, chemistry, and physics. This academy later developed into Ôsaka University. Famous alumni were amongst others renewed philosopher Fukuzawa Yukichi (福澤 諭吉, 1835-1901), founder of Keiô University. The house still exists and can be visited. Address: Ôsaka, Nakanoshima ku, Kitahama 3 chôme (大阪市中央区北浜3丁目)

(2) In the middle of Ôsaka:  Ôsaka castle park area and its surroundings

Ôsaka caste
The construction of Ôsaka castle (Ôsakajô, 大阪城) was started in 1582 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a preeminent daimyô, who is regarded as one of Japan's "great unifiers" who ended the "Age of Warring States" (Sengoku jidai), marked by social upheavals and political unrest. By that time it was the largest castle in Japan. After being destroyed, rebuild and burned down, it was reconstructed in ferroconcrete in 1931. It miraculously survived the air raids of the Second World War. Major repair works were carried out in 1997, which is why its interior is entirely modern. Nevertheless, it is a very impressing castle. Don’t miss to see it. 

Plum blossoms at Ôsaka Castle Park
The castle tower is surrounded by secondary citadels, gates, turrets, impressive stone walls, and moats. It also has a very popular plum garden, which is very worth visiting in February. The entire Ôsaka Castle Park covers about two square kilometers with lots of green space.  Nishinomaru teien garden (西の丸庭園), encompassing the former "western citadel", is a lawn garden with 600 cherry trees, a tea house, and the former Ôsaka Guest House. Surrounded by greenery, the garden commands a beautiful view of the castle tower and the stone walls of a moat. Unlike most of the rest of the castle grounds, the garden requires a small admission fee.

Japanese garden, Taikôen, Ôsaka
North of Ôsaka castle park lies Taikôen (太閤園 ), which was part of the former residence of Baron Fujita Denzaburo, a heavyweight of the Kansai economic community. On the premises is spread a wonderful Japanese-style garden, which is as large as about 26500 m2. Water is drawn from the nearby river Okawa, and the stream, pond and monolithic stone bridge give elegance together with blooming trees and flowers, oddly-shaped rocks, a venerable stone pagoda, stone lanterns and many others. Here you can appreciate history and national beauty. Today it is a famous place for the wedding and has some excellent restaurants on its premises; however, the Japanese garden is open to the public and can be freely visited.

Kimi and Elchi in the Fujita tei ato kôen
Also, a part of Baron Fujita’s former residence is the Fujitatei ato kôen (藤田邸跡公園), It is a nice park for having picknick, especially in spring when the peach flowers are in full bloom. The Fujita Museum of Arts (Fujita bijutsukan, 藤田美術館) owns the oriental antiquity collection of Baron Fujita and his descendants. Opened in 1954, its collection numbers approximately 5,000 articles, including paintings, calligraphy, ceramics, sculptures, lacquerware, gold ware, dyed textile, and archaeological materials ranging from the ancient times to the Meiji Period.

Kyôbashi and castle moat, Ôsaka
Kema Sakuranomiya kôen (毛馬桜之宮公園) is around 600m from Taikôen, on the banks of Okawa River. It is the most beautiful spot to admire the cherry blossoms in Ôsaka. Around 5.000 cherry trees are planted here. Even without cherry blossoms it is a good place for strolling along the riverside. Kyôbashi (京橋) is Ôsakas largest business district, very close to Ôsaka castle. It is known for its nightlife, especially its numerous Izakayas and tachinomi, or standing bars. It also has a shopping arcade with old-fashioned shops. The narrow streets give you a distinctive historic feeling. It is specifically crowded at night.

Tsuruhashi, Korean Market, Ôsaka
Ikuno Korea Town
Tsuruhashi (鶴橋) is a railway station on the Ôsaka Loop Line south from Ôsaka castle park. Tsuruhashi is well known for its massive Korean population. Under the train tracks, there is a labyrinth of market stalls, much like Namdaemun Market in Seoul.You can find all sorts of imported items, K-pop goods, and amazing Korean food, all for great prices. Tsuruhashi is always bustling with activity and has a very lively atmosphere Some blocks away is Ikuno Korea Town (生野コリアタウン). Here you will find many Korean restaurants serving yakiniku (Asian barbecue) and other Korean foods, using only the freshest ingredients as well as shops selling Kimchi and other Korean products.


(3) Shinsaibashi shopping district and Nanba area

Shinsaibashi, Ôsaka
Shinsaibashi (心斎橋) is Ôsaka’s largest shopping district with many boutiques and specialty shops. The heart of the area is the 600 meters arcaded Shinsaibashi Shopping Street, which was established as a shopping area in the Edo period.
The Western area is called Amerikamura (アメリカ村), the birthplace of the latest shopping trends. Amerikamura is specifically popular among the young ones and is always crowded with people. It is also famous for its vibrant nightlife with many bars and clubs.
Orange street, some 900m to the West from Americamura has an uncountable number of select fashion shops and unique cafes. Nearly every shop is different from the next and all of them have distinct and special architecture and design. If fashion is not your thing, Orange Street is also home to a large number of traditional furniture shops.

Dôtonbori, Ôsaka
Dôtonbori (道頓堀) in the Nanba (難波) district, is one of Ôsaka’s principal tourist attractions. It is known as the gastronomists' town, and thus the entire area of Dôtonbori is thronged with an unbelievable number of restaurants and amusement facilities. Running from Dôtonboribashi Bridge to Nipponbashi Bridge, the Dôtonbori Canal is right at the end of Shinsaibashi shopping arcade. Have a walk along the promenades on both sides of the canal or stopover in one of the cafes and restaurants. Specifically at night, when the signboards and neon light are lit, a walk along the Canal is amazing.

Kuromon ichiba market (黒門市場) or „black gate market“ is one of the main food markets in Ôsaka and probably the most well known. The market has a total length of close to 600 meters with nearly 200 shops, the vast majority of which specialize in the freshest and best quality meat, vegetables, eggs and other ingredients from around the country and abroad. Even though the market is very busy, it is an excellent place to get started eating in Ôsaka.

Fudô myôô, Hôzenji, Ôsaka
The temple Hôzenji (法善寺), tucked away not far from Dôtonbori bridge, is famous for its moss-covered Fudô myôô statue (不動明王) known as mizukake fudô (水かけ不動), the Fudô to be sprinkeled with water. If you like to please the deity, splash some water on the statue. The temple grounds are very lovely at night when the many paper lanterns are lit. 
Hôzenji yokochô, Ôsaka
Hôzenji is situated in the middle of Hôzenji yokochô (法善寺横丁), a narrow stone-paved lane, that gives you a feeling of the good old days. In this atmospheric alley, you will find small food shops, restaurants, and cafes. 

Dôguyasuji Shopping Arcade (道具屋筋) is a one hundred and fifteen meters long shopping arcade, where you can buy everything associated with kitchen utensils. The arcade is lined with shops, selling exclusively kitchenware and there are several good shops where you can buy Japanese ceramics such as tea bowls or dishes.
Nanba Yasaka Jinja
Nanba yasaka jinja (難波八阪神社) has long been worshipped as the tutelary deity of the Nanba district. The shrine buildings were burned down in the 1945 air raids. The present buildings are reconstructions built after the war. Also called the “lion shrine“, it is famous for its giant lion’s head on the central square of the temple complex. The stone image featuring a stage in its mouth is over 12 meters high and 11 wide and is particularly eye-catching.

Nipponbashi denden town (日本橋でんでんタウン) is one of the largest commercial districts in Ôsaka, packed with electrical equipment discount stores. It is also known for its many shops which specialize in furniture, tools, and shops for "otaku"(オタク), people with obsessive interests, commonly the anime and manga fandom. Nipponbashi is often compared to Akihabara Electric Town, its equivalent in Tôkyô, however only in terms of scope not in terms of size.

(4) Shitennôji  area

Shitennôji (四天王寺) was founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku (574-622), who promoted the introduction of Buddhism into Japan. It is regarded as the first Buddhist temple in Japan. Since its founding, it has been associated with health and welfare. The five-story pagoda can be entered and climbed. The Gokuraku jôdo Garden ( 極楽浄土庭園), which dates back to the early Edo Period, is based on an idea of the Western Paradise of Amida with pleasant ponds, rock waterfalls and, stone lanterns. Within the main complex, the Kamenoike pond is famous for its turtles. The shrine is under construction till 2022, however, it is still open for visitors. On the 21st and 22nd of every month, a large flea market is held on the temple grounds where you can buy sculptures, kimonos or ceramics. There are also food stalls where you can try regional specialites like takoyaki (octopus dumplings) or okonomiyaki, a Japanese savury pancake.  

Shinseikai, Tsutenkaku, ôsaka
Shinsekai (新世界), the „New World“ is a district not far from Shitennôji that developed before WW II, in the wake of the 1903 National Industrial Exposition. While the southern part was built to imitate Cony Island, New York, the northern part, was modeled after Paris. At the beginning of the 20th century, the neighborhood flourished as a local tourist attraction showcasing the city's modern image. At the district’s center stands Tsutenkaku tower (通天閣), literally, building leading to heaven, which was built in 1912, to imitate Paris’ Eiffel Tower. This steel structure is a symbol of Ôsaka, representing the “New World” (shinseikai). 

Kimi, Elchi and Billiken san
At this time, it was the tallest structure in East Asia. It has an observation platform on the 5th floor and a theatre in the basement. In Shinseikai you will find a lot of small restaurants, offering kushikatsu (串カツ). This well known specialty of Ôsaka. is a dish of deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables. Further, there are a lot of shops, offering cheap clothes and other goods. Here is the heart of the Billiken cult (jap.: ビリケンさん). The Billiken is a good luck charm doll, created by female US artist Florence Pretz. It appeared as a figurine in May 1908 and became tremendously popular worldwide since then. It made its Japanese debut in the same year when a statue of Billiken was installed in the uppermost level of the original Tsutenkaku tower. Today you will find statutes everywhere in Shinseikai. Rub the soles of his feet and your wishes come true.

Imamiya Ebisu Shrine (今宮戎神社), which is known by the local people as “Ebessan”, was founded in 600 by the order of Prince Shotoku, to prevent nearby Shitennôji by warding off evil spirits. Here, people pray to Ebisu, the god of good business and commercial prosperity, which is why it is very popular among the people of Ôsaka. The Tôka Ebisu Festival, which takes place for three days around 10 January, attracts up to a million spectators annually. Imamiya Ebisu shrine is located right next to Imamiyaebisu Stn. or a 5-minute walk from Nanba Stn.

(5) In the South: Sumiyoshi taisha

Sumiyoshi Taisha, Ôsaka
Sumiyoshi taisha (住吉大社), founded in the 3rd century, is one of the oldest shrines in Japan and the most famous shrine in Ôsaka. The buildings that are painted in a dark red color have their own style of architecture known as sumiyoshi zukuri. It enshrines three gods that have long been worshiped for protecting the nation, for protecting voyagers and for promoting waka poetry, and therefore is a place of pilgrimage, esp. for travelers and poets. 

Sumiyoshi Taisha, Ôsaka
Sumiyoshi taisha is mentioned in The Tale of Genji (genji monogatari, 源氏物語) of Murasaki Shikibu (紫式部, c. 978- c. 1014) and is believed to be the entrance point of the Silk Road into Japan. Today it is a popular place for traditional Shintô marriage ceremonies and draws huge crowds for the New Year ‘s first shrine visit (hatsumôde, 初詣).

You can take the Hankai Tramway from Tennôji Stn. to Sumiyoshi Stn. It is the oldest tramway in Ôsaka, which opened in 1910. There are vintage trams running, dating back from as long ago as 1928. The tram runs slowly so you will get to see the way of living in Ôsaka as you experience the oldest tram ride.

Around Ôsaka


West of Ôsaka

View from Tenpôsan Harbour Village
If you like to enjoy a maritime atmosphere, you can visit Tenpôzan Harbour Village (天保山ーバービレッジ), is a leisure spot located in the bay area, which is just 20 minutes from the center of Ôsaka. Featuring the Ôsaka Aquarium, numerous restaurants, serving Ôsaka specialties, a food court, extensive retail outlets and a small park, the village is where the waterfront comes alive. It further hosts Naniwa Kuishinbo Yokochô (なにわ食いしんぼ横丁), a food theme park recreating the nostalgic 1960s streets of Ôsaka. Here, visitors can enjoy original Ôsaka cuisine.
Access: Osakako Sta. of Subway Chuo Line (exit No.1)

North of Ôsaka

Minoo Waterfall
Minoo kôen (箕面公園), is a forested valley just north of Ôsaka. It is a spacious natural recreation area. Its main hiking trail extends about three kilometers through a valley alongside the Minoo River

Minoo  kôen
The trail begins near Hankyû Minoo Station and leads to the Minoo Waterfall. With a height of 33 meters, the waterfall is the park's main natural attraction. The first half of the trail passes by shops and temple buildings. The park is home to animals like apes and deer.

Access: Take the Hankyû Takarazuka Line from Hankyû Umeda Station to Ishibashi Stn. (15 minutes) and transfer to the Hankyû Minoo Line to Minoo Stn. (5 minutes)

Since you have to change the train in Ishibashi (石橋) to the Minoo line, you can visit the shopping arcade in front of Ishibashi Station. It has some very nice traditional shops where you can try delicious Japanese sweets or other delicacies.

Ikeda shiro ato kôen
On the way to Minoo (or on your way back), you can stop over at Ikeda (池田), one of the popular suburbs in Ôsaka. Ikeda has many things to offer. Besides featuring beautiful Mt. Satsukiyama and many significant temples and shrines, it is the birthplace of the Japanese instant noodles. If you are noodles lover, you can visit the Cup Noodle Museum (カップヌードルミュージアム大阪池田). In the Edo period, Ikeda had a castle occupied by a daimyō.  Still, a tower of the castle remains in the Ikeda Castle Park (Ikedashiro ato kôen, 池田城跡公園), which is very worth visiting. Besides you can find some old houses of the Edo period and a shopping arcade with many traditional shops.

Access: Ikeda Stn, one station from Ishibashi on the Hanyû Takarazuka Line

Kimi and Elchi at Nakayamadera
Nakayamadera (中山寺) in Takarazuka, Hyôgô prefecture, was founded by Prince Shotoku, in the 6th century. It is one of the most popular temples in the region. Today’s buildings of this temple were mainly built in the 17th century. The temple's principal object of worship is the eleven-faced Kannon Bodhisattva. 

Plum garden, Nakayama dera
During New Year's days, this temple is crowded beyond brim, as many people from the Kansai region visit this temple to get the blessings of Kannon. It is a magnificent local temple with a unique blue pagoda and many other buildings. Afilliated is a lovely plum garden, which is highly recommendable in February.

Access: Yamamoto Stn, four stations from Ishibashi on the Hanyû Takarazuka Line

Open Air Museum of Old Farmhouses
The Open Air Museum of Old Japanese Farmhouses (Nihon kokka shûraku hakubutsukan, 日本国家集落博物館) in Toyonaka features a collection of traditional Japanese country houses, transported here and painstakingly reconstructed. Many of the houses, which you can enter, have displays inside on traditional rural life. The whole place comes alive with fiery red maple leaves during November.

Access: Ryokuchi Koen Sta. of Kita Ôsaka Kyûkô Railway Line (connected with Ôsaka Subway Midôsuji Line) or Sone Sta. of Hankyu Line.

Not far from here is the Expo ’70 Commemoration Park (Banpaku kinen kôen, 万博記念公園), the former site of the Japan World Exposition 1970. The park is known as a cultural park embracing natural environment. You can relax in the park which has a Japanese Garden, Natural and Cultural Gardens, cultural institution area and a sports and recreation area.
Access: Subway Midôsuji Line to Senri chûô. Change her to ôsaka Monorail and get off at Banpaku kinen kôen Stn.

South of Ôsaka

Kishiwada castle
Kishiwada (岸和田市) is famous for its castle, which is said to have been built in 1334. Struck by lightning it burned down in 1827. The current donjon is a three-story building built in 1954, with exhibition rooms for artifacts and a watchtower etc. From the tower, you can overlook Kishiwada. Also featured in the honmaru is a garden called Hachijin no niwa (八陣の庭), or Garden of Eight Battle Formations. Rock groups are representing the eight formations.

Gofuso teien, Kishiwada
Next to the Castle is the Gofusô teien (五風荘庭園), a  very beautiful traditional Japanese garden, which is also the setting for a traditional building which now houses a restaurant. This is a great place to stop for lunch.

The old town, on foot of the castle, features many old houses, perfect for a peaceful stroll through history.

Access: Nakai Main Line to Kishiwada Stn.

Wakayama castle
Wakayama (和歌) as a city is not much worth visiting. However, it has a wonderful castle, which is a must for old castle lovers. It was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who ruled Japan in the latter half of the 16th century. Even though the original castle burned to the ground in a bombing raid in 1945, the rebuilt castle and its long corridors and small towers are worth the steep climb up to the heights on which the castle stands. The main tower itself displays several artifacts and has the typical far-reaching views of the city from the observation deck on its highest floor.

 From here it is only a short ride with the train to Kuroe (黒江), the home of Kishû shikki (紀州漆器), or Kishû lacquerware, which is produced here.  There are many showrooms, displaying lacquerware goods, including the shop of the Kishu Lacquerware Cooperative (Kishû shikki kyôdô kumiai, 紀州漆器協同組合...). Nearby you will find a row of old merchant houses.

Negoronuri lacquerware
Typical is the negoronuri style
(根来塗), which was created around the Middle Ages and is known as a high-value work of art. Negoronuri style lacquerware is characterized by a red lacquer surface robbed to reveal an underlying lacquer of black. The prices are moderate, which makes it a must for all lovers of Japanese lacquerware.

Access: Kisei main line from Wakayama to Kainan Stn.

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