Up early and off to northern Osaka to visit the old Japanese farm house in Hattori-Ryokuchi. The park features 12 old style farm houses brought from rural areas all over Japan, build during the Edo period (17th - 19th centuries). Many elite landowners built these farm houses in snowy, mountainous districts so the homes needed to provide warmth and shelter from the elements. The farm house all have thickly thatched roofs and earthen floors and the kitchen, bedrooms, dining and living areas have wooden floors. All the houses have fire pits of various sizes, depending on what they are cooking and sometimes the farm animals even lived in the same building with the families. The village also exhibited out buildings, restored granaries, a windmill, a tea house and a Kabuki theater. Keith spent about 30 minutes photographing a heron eating a bull frog in a small pond on the grounds.
After touring the farm houses, we rode the metro to central Osaka and the Osaka Castle Park. Peter located the exact subway stop for the park entrance, a beautiful location with 4500 cherry blossoms, 1250 Japanese plums, fountains, and flowering plants. We walked through the park for about 30 minutes across bridges crossing two moats and through the Ote gate to the famous Osaka Castle and museum. The original castle burned down many times throughout its history and Osaka restored the current version after 1947. After paying the admission fee, we decided to climb 7 stories to the observation tower, thereby avoiding the long lines for the elevator. Each floor supports a museum featuring the shogun Hideyoshi Toyotomi significant lifetime events including a full scale model of the Osaka castle as it looked in during the Toyotomi and Tokugawa periods. Also on display are samurai costumes, historical artifacts from the winter siege, and artifacts from the summer Battle of Shinzugatake. Another priceless treasure is an enormous screen which depicts the battle’s 3000 soldiers, hundreds of banners, weapons and horses, illustrating the battle’s ferocity. Sadly Hideyoshi Toyotomi died just a month before the battle so his son, anointed to lead the army, lost the battle to the Tokugawa shogunate in 1615. Soon after this momentous defeat, Hideyoshi’s son committed suicide. The castle’s 7th floor is dedicated to an observation deck with outstanding views of downtown Osaka in 4 directions.
Keith and Anne toured the Osaka Aquarium in the afternoon. We were treated to outstanding displays of sea life around the world, the most outstanding being a baby whale shark, but also admired rays, sharks, penguins, tropical fishes, coral reefs, sea turtles, kelp forests, sea otters, river otters, tuna, sea lions and seals-- just to name a few. More hundreds of photos!
Dinner again, in Dotombori and this time Keith treated everyone to Okonomiyaki, the Japanese pancake cooked on a hot steel grill and filled with pork, shrimp or octopus.