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Cherry blossom (Sakura) in Osaka

This is a detailed post of my 2 weeks long solo backpacking trip to Japan. Please see preview and itinerary/index of my complete trip on this post

Day 1 – Osaka Castle

Arrival at Osaka Kansai Airport

For first time in my life I wanted my flight to be delayed. My arrival time at Osaka’s Kansai airport was 0210 hours. A direct flight from Singapore to Osaka takes only 6.5 hours. But my flight is a connecting flight via Hongkong. So, I had a short flight of 4 hours.This is a problem with low budget flights, they depart and arrive at oddest hour of the day. But that’s okay, as far as they do not get lost mid way or shot down. Life is all about seeing the brighter side, isn’t it? Well, my Jetstar flight reached Osaka ten minutes before schedule. Immigration was fairly smooth and did not take much time. By 0300 hours I was all set with my passport stamped and check-in luggage delivered. I had no intentions of checking into a hotel as I wanted to reach Osaka castle as soon as it opens and I saw no point in paying one day charge for few hours of stay. Accommodation in Japan is expensive and I am a budget trip. Though Osaka castle opens at 9AM, nearby parks laden with Sakura trees are open to public. So I decided to leave airport with first light of sun. After charging my phone and a few rounds of Kansai airport I got a vacant cushioned seat and I dozed off.

Time to get going

I got up at 0530 with sounds of hurrying passengers. Time to get up and get head straight. As I put my first step out of Kansai airport I realized Osaka was cold. Fortunately airport was well heated and I could sleep comfortably . An over head bridge connects Kansai airport to Osaka airport railway station. Japan has a extensive network of trains and multiple private train operators other than Japan Rail (JR). Each of these operators have different ticket counters and different tickets/passes/offers. After spending 15 minutes looking at various sign boards, I felt completely lost. Not all sign boards are in English. Though I had check various passes offered by train in and around Kyoto regions, I had zeroed in for Kansai Thru Two day train pass for 4000Y. This pass can be used on any two days and not necessarily consecutive. So my idea was to use this pass on days when I visit Osaka/Nara/Kyoto (all covered by this pass) and Kyoto/Kyosan route (all covered). My plan for the day was to cover Osaka Castle and Nara so I activated my pass for the day. I boarded the Nankai railway train destined to Namba.

Since it was quite early, train station were devoid of people. Its impossible to get such a shot in day time at any station.

Since it was quite early, train station were devoid of people. Its impossible to get such a shot in day time at any station.

Tip: Local travel in Japan is pretty expensive. Many private train and bus operators give special discounted passes to foreigners only. You need to show your passport to get these passes and fill a form as well. These passes, if used intelligently, can certainly save you some moolah.

Castle as only seen in movies

After a short walk of 5-7 minutes from Tanimachi 4-chrome Station, I reached Osaka castle. Weather was slightly cold and I was enjoying some respite from Singapore’s heat. Osaka Castle was recreated in 1931 after being destroyed in various wars. I was welcomed by amazing bloom of Cherry tress. Osaka castle is surrounded with Cheery tress so it is a must visit place din Sakura season. It was pretty early for the day, local people could be seen jogging and exercising.

Entry to the Castle

Entry to the Castle

After paying an entry ticket of 600Y, you can go to the top of castle. You can see some (tiny) people standing near top also.

After paying an entry ticket of 600Y, you can go to the top of castle. You can see some (tiny) people standing near top also.

Monochromatic version of Sakura with Osaka castle

Monochromatic version of Sakura with Osaka castle

Tourists enjoying boat ride amid in water pond surrounding castle

Tourists enjoying boat ride amid in water pond surrounding castle

Hanami (花見, flower viewing)

Since it was Sunday, I could see many people just reserving space under Sakura tress to have lunch with families. This lunch/dinner is locally known as Hanami Party. Hanami party is Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the transient beauty of flowers with family and friends over eating and drinking session. Looking at the gathering I could conclude Japanese people social. And the amount of food and drinks they were carrying would be enough for last one full day so they will probably stay here till evening.

Few family members have occupied/reserved space in advance for family. Probably since it was a Sunday, places may be harder to find later in the day

Few family members have occupied/reserved space in advance for family. Probably since it was a Sunday, places may be harder to find later in the day

Another setup of plastic sheets blocking venue for the day.

Another setup of plastic sheets blocking venue for the day.

Another couple with full preparation. Notice those foldable chairs and tent.

Another couple with full preparation. Notice those foldable chairs and tent.

House full

House full

A local band performing for Hanami parties

A local band performing for Hanami parties

Entire castle is lined up with Sakura trees

Entire castle is lined up with Sakura trees

Your truly

Your truly

Nishinomaru Garden

All castles, temples, shrines, and parks in Japan have entry fees ranging from 200Y to 1500Y. Welcome to Japan!

Nishinomaru Garden is a lawn garden next to Osaka castle boasting of over 600 Sakura trees. There is a entry fees of 200Y and a moderate size (50 people approx) queue for entry. The night cherry blossom viewing event is held during blooming periods, attracting a large number of viewers. Unfortunately I had to move to Nara for the day so had to miss night Illumination.

Nishinomaru Garden, has a entry fees of 200Y. Not mandatory to visit but has large number of Sakura trees.

Nishinomaru Garden, has a entry fees of 200Y. Not mandatory to visit but has large number of Sakura trees.

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Majestic view of castle from garden lawn

Time to move to nearby train station to head to Nara.

Next Post -> Nara

8 thoughts on “Cherry blossom (Sakura) in Osaka

  1. Dessi

    Hello, Ankur! It’s really beautiful and your pictures are amazing! 🙂 I’m looking forward for your next posts. We did almost the same trip in Japan and I’m curious to see someone else’s point of view (and photos of course :-)). It’s like to do this remarkable trip again 🙂

    1. Ankur Post author

      Hello Dessi,
      Thanks for dropping a note. I am glad you liked my pictures.
      Its great to know we traversed through the same route viewing amazing Japan. Going through my photos is enough for me to transport myself into the amazing Cherry blossom season that just finished.
      Stay tuned and do let me know about places you visited.

      Regards,
      Ankur

      1. Dessi

        Hello again! Actually, we met in Shirakawa-go 🙂
        We started our trip from Tokyo. We spent a couple of days in Tokyo and had a one day trip to Nikko. After that we went to Hiroshima and Miyajima before going to Kyoto where we spent a few days. From there we made one day trips to Osaka and Nara. We finished our trip by taking part in the Takayama’s festival and visiting Shirakawa-go where we met 🙂 We stayed at Gero and traveled to Takayama and Shirakawa-go.
        We didn’t have time to visit Mt Fuji and I really looking forward to your posts about it 🙂

        Dessi

        1. Ankur Post author

          Its so good to get in touch with you again. You too had a awesome trip. If you have shared your photos on web, drop me the link. I would love to see takayama festival and Miyajima.
          Takayama festival was on my list but it would have been too rushed up so I dropped it.
          I stayed in Mt Fuji for three days and loved it! While I am about to finish processing Kyoto pictures, Fuji is up next.
          I remember I clicked few photos of you. I will email you once I get some free cycles.

          Regards,
          Ankur

  2. Rajiv Verma

    Fantastic! The photos seem to be from another world!

    What’s pleasantly surprising for me is the fact that while many other countries — India included, have inflated prices for everything for foreigners, Japan does the opposite!

    Cheers,
    Rajiv

    1. Ankur Post author

      That’s so true Rajiv. Japan is totally different from any other Asian country.
      Japan is making all efforts to make it tourist friendly. There is even a Japan rail pass , only available for foreigners and you have to buy it before reaching Japan. This pass allows you unlimited train rides in famous bullet train for limited duration.
      Japan had been dealing with economy crisis for a long now. They devalued Yen in later part of 2015 to compensate.
      Though that means more yen for same home currency for us 😉

    1. Ankur Post author

      I would love to go to Japan. Perhaps in autumn or winter season but to a different area. Northern Japan, Saporo (Hokkaido) would be my preference.
      Japan is so big and each season has its own charm. I can easily do a few trip 🙂

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