Hey guys! Here’s a quite belated update on our Osaka trip from a couple weeks back. As usual, I’m going to break it up into a few segments, starting with Osaka Castle and Shitenno-ji Temple.
We stayed in the Hotel Monterey La Soeur in Osaka Business Park, which was literally a five minute walk to the Osaka Castle Park! The park was full of joggers and cyclists; it just looked like your average, run-of-the-mill city park, aside from the massive castle looming on a hill in the background.
Most of the castle and its grounds have been recently rebuilt and renovated, so it wasn’t particularly old-looking, aside from the huge stone blocks the castle sits on.
It’s still a very impressive structure; you really have to crane your neck up to get a good view of it!
You can take tours of the inside of the castle, but we skipped that and just walked around the grounds for a while instead, before heading off to Shitenno-ji Temple.
I was super pumped about visiting Shitenno-ji, because it’s the original Japanese Buddhist temple, first constructed in 593! Most of it has been recently refurbished, but it’s still a pretty impressive place.
The pagoda is visible from pretty far away; we could see it as soon as we came out of the subway station.
Apart from being the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan, Shitenno-ji had something else pretty special…
That’s not just any old pond…
It’s a freakin’ huge turtle pond! I was actually jumping up and down and squealing like a five year old when I saw this; there were LITERALLY HUNDREDS of turtles in this pond, all poking their heads out of the water looking for some turtle treats.
Turtles are really important symbols of the divine and immortality in Buddhist mythology, but I’d never seen live turtles at a temple before; it was pretty special!
We also found this cute temple cat just hanging out. One thing we’ve noticed from our trips to Japan is that Japanese people really, REALLY like cats. It doesn’t matter if it’s a well-groomed domesticated feline, or a scabby street cat, they all receive the same reaction of total bliss and affection from Japanese passerby. It’s a completely different world from Korea, where cats are generally looked upon as dirty pests.
We wandered around the serene temple grounds for a while…
I’m not sure who this statue is depicting, but he’s holding a long rope in his hand which worshipers would come up to and touch; there was also a big prayer wheel in front of the statue.
We passed through this quiet little cemetery on our way back to the subway station.