You know when you get in that kind of mood where you start going through really, really old pictures, and laughing at the memories? Or cringing at the memories, but still wishing that you could go back, just for an instant, to that time. Details that were fuzzy coming back into focus, like a half-remembered dream.
That’s how I feel now. A few years ago. Well, okay, five years ago, I spent a few days with my good friends Eda and Erin, in the old capitol of Japan. Want to hear more about it?
Good 🙂 I really, really want to talk about it.
Since moving to Japan, I have always lived in Tokyo, the capitol and one of the biggest, most expensive cities in the world. In Japan, I wouldn’t live anywhere else. I love the convenience and availability of all different kinds of culture and food, from all over the world. Everything, right here in Tokyo.
But, Tokyo isn’t the only attraction by far. This was the first vacation that I took since coming to Japan, back when I was still learning about the country that I’d suddenly come to live in.
Kyoto is about 6 hours away by bus, and because I was cheap, I took an overnight bus to get there, while my two friends rode the shiny shinkansen (bullet train).
Here is the bus that I took:
(Osaka is the biggest city. Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara are pretty much next to each other. It’s like Tokyo and Yokohama.)
It was quite the dreamy bus… well, it wasn’t that bad in any case. I was seated next to a young school girl who didn’t say a word to me the whole time. She slept, but as is always true for me, I just could not sleep while sitting up. You guys that can sleep standing up or sitting on the trains, you are quite talented!
This younger me was 40 pounds heavier (I know I don’t look it. But I am ridiculously tall, but it’s true.), and I was totally obsessed with having red hair. I loved red hair on girls, more than I can describe.. there is nothing sexier than red hair!
I remember that I got to Osaka a LOT earlier than my two friends, so I had to kill a lot of time. I went to a chain store that basically sells croissants with chocolate and other flavorings in the middle. Chococro is really, really delicious!
When I met up with Eda the splendiferous and Erin the magnificent, we wandered around Osaka station. I was really into the anime series Bleach at the time, and found these potato chips with Urahara on them. They’re “sauce” flavored… what ever flavor that is. Any ideas?
I guess you shouldn’t eat them in the store, though, for “you are not take food.” !!
Through the eye of a giant stuffed animal.
There was a restaurant with this sign, which I thought looked cool at the time. I still think that it looks cool, but I’m not sure what to think of the name… “Shochu” is a kind of cheap liquor, and Imokichi… well, it’s the name of the restaurant. No idea what it means. Perhaps “potato kitchen”?? (imo = potato)
To be honest, I knew almost nothing about Osaka, and it was my first vacation in Japan, so I just kind of went with the flow. Erin thought that it would be awesome to see Osaka castle, and I was like, “CASTLE?! THERE ARE CASTLES IN JAPAN?!! OH YEAH!” I was so there!
We arrived at the castle grounds, and were greeted with many a strange tree.
The trees were very “exciting” (haha), and my excitement mounted..
A castle.. here in Japan! Was this it? Nope, just a water fountain made of rocks. No good.
I do like water, though. Who doesn’t?
Water and trees and rocks, oh my!!
That guy on the right might be imitating the trees… but I didn’t want to look like I was taking a photo of him…
Tall, like me.
I see you up there!
But there were other trees, too. All serving to hide the castle of awesome that I was sure to find lurking somewhere in the park!
No castle yet!
I encountered some rather cheeky inhabitants of the park. As they had erected their tent homes right behind the sign that said “tents are prohibited in this park.”
A castle, finall……. Wait! That’s just a skyscraper!!
Not yet, just a bridge. But I was getting excited!
Surely it had to be nearby. I mean, Japan is a very small country.
Oh, there it is… hey, wait! That doesn’t look like a castle!
Isn’t that just a big house?!
It was impressive, for a house..
But what was a castle without turrets? Castles were made of stones! And falling apart from age…. You know, filled with suits of armor!
I didn’t understand then, and I still don’t now, have any clue why the Japanese call these “castles.” They’re not like castles at all! Not the ones that people around the world know!
They are still cool, but..
I don’t get it. I was really, really disappointed! It’s very cool. Much cooler than a temple. But it’s not what I think of when I think of castles, either. Can’t you call them something else?
But I did like gold! I like shiny things. 🙂
And wind chimes.
I have to admit, it would be cool to live in this
I mean, it has tigers, and tigers are cool. 🙂
I was quite disillusioned when we left the castle.. what a disappointment! Although it was cool! But it wasn’t a castle.
So I played in the rocks to feel better. 🙂
Do you see the disappointment in my eyes?
I tell you what, though.. The okonomiyaki that we had for dinner that night was not a disappointment! My love affair with okonomiyaki was born 🙂
It had been a really long night, so Eda the splendiferous, Erin the magnificent, and I the Jamie all settled down for a nice night’s sleep in our hotel..
My first experience with Japanese castles had been an interesting one! Perhaps it would have benefited from a little bit of research beforehand! 😀
Do you have any interesting stories involving castles of some kind?