I don’t waste time. At least I try not to. Since having my son I have realized just how much I can, and can’t, get done in a day. This has affected our travel. Before having my son, I might not have packed up the night before so we could squeeze in one last sight before heading out of town. Is that really enough time to appreciate anything though? I would soon find out.
We were on our last day in Osaka. We had flown in on Saturday and were headed to Kyoto on Monday. We had to be out of our hotel by noon, but could not check in to our rental house until 4pm. The train to Kyoto would only take us about 2 hours.
I turned to Mike and told him we had 2 options. We could make our way to Kyoto, dump the bags and wander for 2 hours, or go to Osaka Castle for 1 hour. He pondered for about 3 seconds and then said, “Let’s go see a castle.” Off we went.
Dek securely strapped into his stroller, we power walked our way to the subway. Twenty minutes later we were roaming through the park grounds and headed to a bona fide Japanese castle. The first on our nine-day wander through Japan.
Mike was slightly giddy. He is fascinated with feudal Japan. If he could hang out with a samurai he might swoon with merriment. Seriously. Keep in mind that I have been blessed with a very laid back man who generally does not react to much. Verbal outburst of joy are rare. When they happen, I know I’ve picked a winner.
Dek, on the other hand, was unimpressed. He would be happy anywhere we let him get out and walk. It was slow going as he explored every blade of grass in the tiny forest we cut through to get to the castle. He wanted to see the crow across the lane that sounded like an ambulance on steroids, and wave his new stick. He couldn’t be bothered with a significant historical monument.
I always say it is a good thing Dek has two parents. Mike is patient enough to let Dek wander aimlessly, while I make sure we actually get there at some point.
I was taking a few shots when I started to notice a group of people coming our way. Not just a random group either. Hundreds of school children in uniforms. When I say hundreds, I do literally mean hundreds. They were headed up the hill to the very same quiet castle I was trying to get to. This got us moving.
It was our first taste of the school students that would haunt us the rest of our journey. The weather was gorgeous and the school year was winding down. It was time to get out of the classroom to see the country’s historical sights. Exactly what we were doing. On the exact same week. Joy. To this day I swear we happened on national school trip week, but I still can’t find anything official to back me on that.
We tried to get around the group of children, but really couldn’t, so we just joined in. They were excited to say “Hello” and “excuse me” as much as possible. They waved at Dek. Giggled when he giggled. Instead of distracting from our quick trip, it was enhanced by a load of happy fellow travelers. Crows and sticks were forgotten. There were people to say hello to!
Once we got to the castle the school children dispersed to the snack and souvenir stands. It was only 600 Yen to enter the castle, but at this point we only had enough time to take a few pictures before heading back. Sadly, we skipped the collection of armor and views of the city from the 8th floor.
The outside of the castle was worth the trip. The current castle was built in the 1930s. The original castle had been replaced many times over. Conquerors, fires and lightning strikes were a bit of a problem, especially for a castle made of wood.
Dek was getting tired, so I strapped him in the Ergo. A few bounces later, he was out. As we said farewell to Osaka castle, I couldn’t help but be glad we had made this quick side trip. Mike and I got a glimpse of Japanese history. We also had a taste of what the sights in Kyoto might be like with school children in tow. Dek was able to explore nature in a different part of the world. No time was wasted.
The only regret I do have is that we discovered this playground right by the subway entrance that we missed on the way in. It had this luge-like slide that a family of three was shooting down. If we ever get back to Osaka, I am heading straight there so I can get a turn. Dek may have to get in line behind me.
Directions to Osaka Castle from Namba Station
- Take the Midosuji Line to Hommachi Station (230 Yen per person/ kids under 12 free)
- Leave through the Morinomiya Exit 1
- Walk by the water fountain and you will see signs for the castle.
- Castle entrance fee: 600 Yen (per person)
- Costs vary for surrounding gardens.
- 9am – 5pm.
- Hours may vary on holidays. Check before you leave.