Monthly Archives: June 2012

Trip to Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe

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My cousin is here visiting from England for a month. As such, I’ve planned a few eventful weekends for him since they are my only times of freedom. Weekdays are off limits…I am a working woman, after all. This past weekend we decided to visit Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe, three big cities in Japan. Osaka is the equivalent of Montego Bay in Jamaica. The second “big city” after Tokyo. Kyoto is well known for it’s rich display and wealth of Japanese culture; lots of temples, shrines and such. Kobe is most famous for it’s beef and for the major earthquake which severely destroyed it in 1995. The trip  got off to a tricky start. We missed the bus to the airport in a city two hours away and ended up having to take a different bus, a train, running for dear life and reaching the airport with four minutes left for check in. But…we made it, whew!

On Friday morning we headed out to Kyoto. Just getting there was a task in and of itself. Taking the wrong trains, having to ask directions fifty million times…TEDIOUS! The first stop was Kinkakuji, the golden pavilion. It’s one of those places that EVERYONE tries to visit, so naturally we did as well. It’s a beautiful site, but I was a bit disappointed because well, that’s it. No tour. No…anything else. Just the golden structure in the middle of a pond. In fact, the most eventful part of that visit was the bombrush we got by some Chinese/Korean tourists that were so amazed at the sight of black people that they asked to take pictures with us.

Look at all that shiny gold!

After that we visited another temple, the name of which I can’t remember now and then Gion district where we saw a few geishas roaming about. That was also interesting. I felt like a member of the paparazzi trying to snap pictures with the poor women. It was crazy. Crowds of people lining the street just waiting for one to appear to get a picture with them. After that we went to an open temple area which was beautiful, free and quaint and then walked around the town a little, checking out the shopping areas before heading back “home” to Kobe where we stayed.

On Saturday we ventured into Osaka. This boy was hell bent on seeing any and everything he possibly could for the day and so we did a LOT. I’m still tired from it all. We went to see Osaka Castle, the Osaka History Museum, the Floating Botanical Garden/Sky Building, some other tower I can’t remember the name of and a huge ferris wheel which in some accounts is said to be the largest in the world (I’m not sure about that).  It’s such a vibrant city, and I’m sure I would have enjoyed it a lot more had the rain not been showering down for the vast majority of the day. For me the best part was the ferris wheel. From the top we were able to get a grand view of Osaka Bay. It was spectacular. His favourite was, I’m assuming, the Floating Garden, since he was going on and on and on about how awesome it was. It really did give a majestic view of the city as well, but it was raining so hard that we didn’t get to experience it in all its grandeur.

Part of the museum’s display

Osaka Castle

We didn’t do much in Kobe as it was only a place for us to rest. It’s unfortunate that I couldn’t sample some of their world famous beef, but at roughly 5000 yen (about the same in Jamaican dollars), I let it pass.

Do you see that angry sky?!

It was a great trip to the Kansai region. I wish that we had headed out earlier on both days so that we could have fit a few more things in and I also wish it hadn’t been rainy season that we did this. If you ever make it to Japan, or you’re here and haven’t gone yet, definitely head to the area! As usual, my pictures are not the best since they were taken with my i-phone, but enjoy none the less!

Osaka Bay from the roller coaster.