A Travellerspoint blog

Final stop on our Japan Itinerary

Osaka, Japan

View Around the World! - Part 2 on Where2FromHere's travel map.

So today we make our final stop in Japan, in Osaka, which is home to significant cultural and historical landmarks, including Osaka Castle and numerous Buddhist shrines. Jeff, who said he can now construct a Buddhist Temple in his sleep, would like to know if you are as weary as he is of my blog showcasing shrines ... but, nevertheless, we did save one of the best for last - the Shitennoji Temple, one of Japan's oldest temples.The Shitennoji Temple was founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku, and the complex includes a five-story pagoda, a main golden hall, and a tranquil garden, all reflecting the spiritual and historical significance of the site.



The Buddhist rituals we observed included lighting candles, burning incense, and bringing newborn infants to the temple which are significant practices in this religion.

Our next stop was the Osaka Castle, built in 1583, which stands as a symbol of Japan's unification during the 16th century. This castle, with its impressive five tiers on the outside and eight stories on the inside, was the largest and most formidable castle in Japan during the samurai era. The castle's strategic design included a large moat, high stone walls, and multiple turrets, making it a challenging fortress to conquer.



As you can see the castle is in the midst of the city of Osaka, Japan. This was the view from various vantage points on the 8th floor of the castle:


During our visit to Japan, we were struck by the country's vibrant and diverse culture, which includes a range of recreational activities such as baseball, horse racing, and gambling. Horse racing is a particularly well-established and popular sport in Japan, with a long and rich history dating back to the 19th century. We saw an impressive race track, and were impressed by the scale. However, as we learned in Hong Kong, betting is a significant part of the horse racing industry there as well, and it plays a crucial role in the economy. In fact, a portion of the betting revenue from horse racing, equal to 2 billion, is donated to charitable foundations, and the country as a whole wagers over 20 billion a year on horse racing!


Baseball thrives in Japan, as evidenced by the vibrant presence of the sport. Dean Vogelaar, a friend of ours, can attest to the Kansas City Royals' engagement with baseball in Japan, highlighted by their memorable 1981 Japan Tour. During our time in Japan, we were impressed not only by the grand stadiums but also by the dedicated players of all ages who tirelessly practiced day and night.



As I learned when I recently read the book "Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee, Pachinko is a popular form of gambling throughout Japan that resembles pinball, with a rich history and cultural significance, particularly in Osaka. The game involves launching small metal balls into a machine, aiming to direct them into certain pockets to win jackpots and accumulate more balls for further play. Interestingly, the game has its origins in a children's game from the US called the "Corinthian Bagatelle" in the 1920s, but it evolved into a unique form of entertainment in Japan.


During our travels in Japan, Jeff found two things particularly intriguing:

  • Firstly, he was fascinated by the electronic toll gate arms that were timed perfectly to lift just as our bus passed through, creating a thrilling illusion of narrowly avoiding collision.
  • Secondly, he was captivated by the cleverly concealed incinerator smoke stacks, with one even mistaken for an amusement park tower.

After today, our travels will take us southward once more. We have found our visit to the nation that was once responsible for the bombing of Pearl Harbor to be a fascinating experience, as we have been met with warmth and appreciation during our stay. Japan is a country steeped in history and natural beauty, from the delicate cherry blossoms to the awe-inspiring volcanic mountains, and a deep-rooted culture that values religious practices such as Buddhism and the pursuit of enlightenment. We feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to explore this nation, learn about its people and their customs, and experience such a warm welcome throughout our journey.

Posted by Where2FromHere 23:00 Archived in Japan

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Barb when we growing up my girlfriend and I played her Pachinko machine relentlessly! Her dad visited Japan with his work and bought one home, and we played for hours on it! Loved it šŸ„°

by Jill

Hey Jill - glad to see you're still "here" with us. Maybe I should have gotten a Pachinko machine as a souvenir while we were there. Then Jeff and I could play on sea days :)

by Where2FromHere

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