Osaka sakura at Osaka Castle and the Kyu-Yodo River (旧淀川 Kyu-Yodo gawa) cherry blossoms show off all I like about sakura season. The cherry blossoms are free to enjoy and these types of events always seem more for everyone. Also it’s a stretch of land that’s nice but becomes absolutely gorgeous in Spring. It draws a lot of people out and especially on weekends and everyone is having a good time. Free and for everyone, proletariat sakura!

I know there’s such beautiful photos of tons of sakura creating a pink universe for Japan, but they’re everywhere. Sometimes just in basic places: a lone old sakura tree in a schoolyard, a public park, or in someone’s garden.

Atashida and I decided to have an impromptu hanami and the Kyu-Yodo River was perfect for it. Then I went back last year to enjoy again. Two years of Osaka sakura in one post!

osaka-castle-okawa-river-sakura

Sakura and Osaka castle! The grounds are free to walk around in so you can spend zero and enjoy.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Although not as plentiful as summer or fall festivals a few food stalls pop up around hanami viewing spots.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some people get really serious to reserve a spot for hanami.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And some people just pull up a bench and enjoy the view. It’s definitely a whatever you feel like atmosphere.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From the river the view is spectacular and tour boats traverse the area filled with people on weekends.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Lots of boats traveling down for Osaka sakura

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

People waiting in line for the boat tours.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There were even different types of sakura on the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I can’t find out what this cherry blossom flower type is but I love the double color.

osaka-okawa-river-walk-sakura

Last year I went back and it was on a weekday past the prime sakura viewing season so the river was mostly empty except for joggers. Working out through sakura season must be nice!

osaka-hanami-okawa-river

Falling sakura on water are so pretty.

osaka-okawa-river-blossoms

Last year the leftover Osaka sakura were so nice. We were there in early afternoon and everything was reflecting and peaceful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The quick gets at a local Sunklus conbini for the hanami. The drinks are Kirin’s special sakura can beer and a peach chu-hai. Those dango say 3-color dango but they’re actually known as “hanami dango” and they’re special to the sakura season. The candied apple was an actual candied apple with a hard candy shell. I thought I would lose some teeth eating it.

Osaka sakura aren’t as fancy as its neighbor Kyoto but it’s a lovely free time to have.

Travel savings tip: I recommend to people especially during sakura and koyo season to stay in Osaka. You’ll get a better hotel deal and travel to Kyoto is only 10 mins via shinkansen or an hour via regular train. Kyoto hotels book up months in advance and the ones left over are usually very pricey. Osaka hotels can be around 7,000-12,000 yen a night ($65-110) for a good location and a decent place. Plus Osaka has a lot of shopping and food options especially at dinner time compared to Kyoto.

Estimated cost of travel day, because I like to show that traveling Japan doesn’t have to be expensive:

Travel: We stayed in Osaka but used transit to get to Osaka castle. About 500 yen roundtrip rail pass unnecessary. 14 day rail pass is around $30USD a day.

Lodging: My hotel was 7,400 yen a night in Osaka.

Food: Breakfast was bakery breads and canned coffee 500 yen, Lunch was Kushi katsu at Daruma around 1,400 yen, refilled bottle of waters (free), dinner was a splurge at Kani Doraku crab for 2,500 yen.

Total spent without lodging or travel: 4,200 yen or $39

Total including everything (food, lodging, travel): 14,000 yen or $126 for two people: 18,000 yen or $160. I also bought some Donki eyelashes and makeup for 5,000 yen.

 follow the Doll on bloglovin | Universal-Doll facebook | Mitsu on twitter “miss_mitsu” | mewmitsu on instagram | inspired-doll tumblr – join/add/follow? :bow:

March 12 – April 12 on Universal-Doll is going to be all about Spring Japan travel (with the occasional fashion update thrown in because #fashionblogger). I’m especially going to talk about some more unexpected destinations like this Castle in the Sky along with travel tips. But I’ll also have some Osaka and Kyoto news as well.

 

takeda-castle-panorama-sakura

My best photo that shows how it feels to be at Takeda Castle and it’s the first photo. May as well stop the blog post now.

I found out about Takeda Castle in Hyogo (竹田城 Takeda-jo) through rocketnews. Never did I think I would travel somewhere because of a site that mainly posts photos of whacky Japan and plastic surgery. But it was their one rocketnews post in a few about how pretty some things in Japan are.

Takeda Castle is known as Japan’s Machu Pichu because of how it an old ruin that nests above the clouds. It’s known as Takeda Castle, but really it’s just ruins from a leftover castle built in the 1400s on a mountain. It doesn’t have a big foreign tourist draw, but when I was there a lot of Japanese tour groups were visiting.

 

kMjoprlHere’s a fancy helicopter shot from Infojepang

I showed the post to my man and he was really interested to so we decided to make a day trip of it from Osaka. It’s a very easy day trip from Osaka/Kyoto/Kobe. It took about two hours from Osaka, we stopped at the Wadayama train station for Yoshinoya.

yoshinoya-wadayama-train-stationyoshinoya-menuyoshinoya-gyutamanegidon

Travel tip: Looking for cheap and quick? A gyu-don restaurant such as Nakau or Yoshinoya. My meal was 490 yen or $4.50. I ordered the Meat with green onions and egg or top right.

My man was mainly interested because we could hike it, he’s like half-goat so the idea of scaling anything fills him with happiness. I on the other hand love a good hike but hate unstable heights, like it’s my #1 fear (dark water #2). I took a medicine for a long time that left me feeling dizziness with heels above 3 inches, much less a mountain. But I heard hike and agreed. I even bought sensible shoes and pants for the endeavor. And wore eyelashes and full makeup, because I’m me. :smiley:

Takeda Station in Hyogo is the drop off point and Takeda area itself was really pretty!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

If this is the first thing you see when you get off a train, you know you’re in for a treat.

takeda-castle-mascot-takejii

A little warning about the train, check out that Takeda Castle mascot “Takeji” so cute!!

TakejiSo cute!! (from the Asago City website)

asago-takeda-main-street

Takeda station is in the town of Asago and wow the main drag was pretty. New old-style houses that some must’ve been ryokans.

asago-takeda-street-koi-mickeymouse

Koi swimming through the streams lining the main road. Along with cute statues of Mickey Mouse and Doraemon.

takeda-castle-pikachu-sakura-blossoms

Even Pikachu got in on the action. All the cherry blossoms final road. No editing, they were really that pink.

takeda-castle-sakura-river

If you’re upset you’re going to miss peak time to view the sakura, really don’t be. After is always great. You get to watch them fall and floating down rivers they’re especially lovely.

takeda-castle-journey

And the shrine entrance starts the journey up the mountain.

and there will be no pictures of that.

Remember when I said unstable heights were my number one fear? Well that set off a panic attack.

Really like several panic attacks up the mountain. And because I was on the side of a mountain I couldn’t go down that was just as horrible. So I would have a panic attack, hike up a bit more, panic, hike, panic. And I got asthmatic because I was wasting my energy just freaking the fuck out.

But I got up the mountain and Takeda Castle rocks!

And hiking is not a requirement to see it, most sane rational people who didn’t listen to the whims of a goat man drive up and park or take a taxi. And go up like 3 measly flights of stairs to see the castle. 

takeda-castle-panorama

iPhone pano! I never use this but I think it really explains how high up you are.

Takeda Castle’s nickname is “The Castle in the Clouds” you are so high up and the view is just spectacular. Even on an overcast day it’s just uninterrupted and glorious!

We had the bonus of visiting on what a tour guide said that day was full bloom of Takeda Castle. Yup. Sakura in the Sky!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

takeda-castle-mountain-view OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I bombarded you with a bunch of cherry blossom centric photos and the “castle” is really just raised rocks, it was totally awesome and I’d visit again in another season, during Fall leaves aka koyo it’s supposed to be breathtaking as well. The view is fabulous, the city around it is super cute and it was a very worthwhile day trip. It’s also a place that’s popular with Japanese tourists but still not too busy. Sakura viewing crowds can get suffocating and this definitely wasn’t.

To note: Takeda Castle’s Cherry Blossom season is later than Osaka or Kyoto. We were there on April 10th and Osaka and Kyoto usually are peak times April 1. So if you’re in Kansai later I really suggest getting your blossom on at Takeda!

Bonus! The JR Bantan line from Takeda to Wadayama had super cute trains!

jrbantan-line-takeda-wadayama

jrbantanline-train2

jr-bantan-line-train1 jr-bantan-line-train4 jrbantan-line-train3

Man I love wrapped trains. It doesn’t beat the Takamatsu Kotoden train, but it definitely fit its surroundings.

Cost of travel day, because I like to show that traveling Japan doesn’t have to be expensive:

Travel: The trip from Osaka to Takeda is covered within the Japan Rail Pass so that part was included in my original spending. We also went to Hyogo castle on our way back. I walked to the JR Namba stop in Osaka so all travel was included in the Rail Pass. 14 day rail pass is around $30USD a day.

Lodging: My hotel was 7,400 yen a night in Osaka.

Food: Breakfast was bakery breads and canned coffee 500 yen, Lunch was Yoshinoya 500 yen, refilled bottle of waters for hike (free), snack and coffee at ChocoCro was 600 yen, dinner was Takoyaki back at Osaka for 600 yen.

Taxi down: 1,500 yen

Entrance to the castle: 300 yen

Total spent without lodging or travel: 4,300 yen or $40

Total including everything (food, lodging, travel): 14,900 yen or $130 for two people: 22,400 yen or $210.

Other than recommended and out of the ordinary tourist spots for Spring I’ll have advice on packing, ways people overspend in Japan, and Spring tips. So stay tuned  :loveword:

follow the Doll on bloglovin | Universal-Doll facebook | Mitsu on twitter “miss_mitsu” | mewmitsu on instagram | inspired-doll tumblr – join/add/follow? :bow:

Sometimes I’ll be walking alongside my man in Japan and he’ll have to turn back to see where I went. Usually because I’ve found something interesting to snap. Either “this could be useful for the blog” or “that’s amusing” goes through my head and I have to stop and take a quick photo. And often they’re good or useful and I share them on the blog or spam twitter or the fancier ones get instagrammed. But then I have a collection of ones that never make it anywhere.

Enjoy some random Japan photos from 2 to 4 weeks ago as the title says.

random-disneytrain-osaka

Ladies only wrapped train in Osaka for Tokyo Disney. Osaka seems to have the most wrapped trains of any city in Japan.

random-blackmen-underwear

The awkward crotch shots and horrible names of Donki underwear.

random-jelly-yukata-ad

Covered shopping area near Shinsaibashi. Yukata and Kimono store on the left is advertising Jelly’s Kimono issue.

random-okadaya-fabric

Lovely wa fabrics in Okadaya Shinjuku. Need to be crafty or buy make-up or hairdye? Okadaya in Shinjuku is a great central place.

random-rienda-fabricmist

Rienda just released their fabric softener and fabric mist both for 900 yen each ($8.50). This ad was in Osaka Shinsaibashi OPA cosmetic store. A little regret I didn’t purchase.

random-shinkansen-view

I absolutely love countryside views from a train. This was on a Shinkansen heading to Osaka.

random-toilet-rolls-ichiran

Popular Fukuoka ramen chain Ichiran had this crazy set-up of toilet rolls in their Ikebukuro location restroom.

 random-hiroshima-sunset

The lack of daylight savings time in Japan makes twilight early, like here in Hiroshima.

random-twilight-skytree-tokyo

Or at the base of Sky Tree in Tokyo.

random-hotel-zeebra-ikebukuro

The forever tacky long standing Love Hotel “Hotel Zebra” in Ikebukuro.

random-kitten-milk-gatchapon

“Let the kittens drink their milk” Gatchapon from a Hiroshima gamesen.

random-rne-heel

The crazy and cool heel at R & E inside Hiroshima Parco.

random-osaka-lowrider

Chicano style lowrider in Osaka. There’s an interesting lowrider culture in Japan where the fans also dress in the subculture style (see a video from an Odaiba meet). If you want to see good tricked out cars in Japan, Amemura in Osaka on a weekend is one of the best places to spot them.

Big shoutout to the new readers on Blogluvin’! I’m 15 readers away from 1.4k and I think it’d be cool to do before the New Year so please follow if you like! I really recommend their iPhone app. It’s how I read blogs daily  :loveword: I’ll try to work hard before New Years and make this blog worthy of your read  :smiley:

follow the Doll on bloglovin | Universal-Doll facebook | Mitsu on twitter “miss_mitsu” | mewmitsu on instagram | inspired-doll tumblr – join/add/follow?

Nagano is a really wonderful town with a spectacular temple, the Nagano Zenkoji Temple. Nagano of course is famous for the 1998 Winter Olympics and symbols from that event still remain. It’s also shockingly close to Tokyo. And quite doable if you’d like to simply make a day trip out of it. Tokyo station to Nagano station is only 86 minutes by Shinkansen.

Of course Nagano is a ski resort town and also known for its monkey park (like the one in Arashiyama). But the Jigokudani in Nagano is a hot steam monkey park. English website for the monkey park is here and taking 1 hour and 30 minutes by bus from Nagano station it’s definitely something you’ll have to spend the whole day on.

I went back in 2011 (previous post of getting lost in the apple orchards of Nagano). And figured this was a great time to share because it was koyo time in Nagano (mid November). The Nagano Zenkoji is massive and one of the best temples I’ve been to outside of Kyoto. But instead of all this talking let’s photo and  talk.

 

The walk is one of my favorite things about the Nagano Zenkoji. It’s on high and you’re surrounded by gorgeous mountains in full koyo colors. And the shops are all these mom-and-pop businesses.

Almost to the temple check out those gorgeous koyo colors. Even a cloudy day won’t dim this.

The main temple itself which was massive.

I love when temple ema get cutesy. I’ve blogged about cute ema in Nara that were heart-shaped but Rilakkuma ema?

It’s the simple needs, isn’t it?  :wink:

The Rokujizo statutes six Bodhisattvas, who gave up Buddhist enlightenment, in order to provide salvation to others.

Close-up of one of the Rokujizo

Super cool incense burner

The Sanmon gate which was refurbished in 2007. Now you can see the giant Buddhist statues inside. Obviously that statue did not need to be asked if he lifts.

Just outside the temple is a super fancy building that must house a restaurant. Check that wonderful red maple.

Further down the way all the gorgeous places now turned to nice restaurants.

I stopped by Kinoko & Vegetable to eat. It’s on the Zenkoji road. I highly recommend it! It was an all you can eat buffet of mainly vegetables. Everything was locally sourced and seasonal. It was only 1,400 yen for all you can eat. So many vegetables. I will definitely eat there again.

The crowd down the temple street. Check out the JRock band on the right. I think there were semi-famous because some people were taking pictures. I know 0 about JRock so…

I loved the look of the coffee shops that line the cold Nagano street. See the cute coffee mug?

Another coffee shop offering traditional Zenzai (red bean soup) sweets.

Tiny little stalls that lined the temple road.

And Nagano itself since it’s not just monkey parks, apple orchards and shrines. It’s a bustling town.

This was a day trip for me from Niigata to Sendai. I was able to enjoy Zenkoji easily but not do the monkey park because of staying in Sendai that night.

Traveling Japan can be inexpensive! I spent 1,400 on food. 200 on beverages. And 1,000 on a train ticket because I got lost. The temple was free. So in total 2,600 yen for a detour or $25 USD.

Want more Nagano posts? Only the apple one here

Want more traveling around Japan posts? I’ve got you covered from Sendai to Kagoshima 

follow the Doll on bloglovin | Universal-Doll facebook | Mitsu on twitter “miss_mitsu” | mewmitsu on instagram | inspired-doll tumblr – join/add/follow?