Japan 2013 Osaka Day 2: Osaka Castle and Kaiyukan Aquarium

by - 11/12/2013

The next morning we decided to try our the buffet at the restaurant at the top of the hotel. The buffet had traditional Japanese food one one side, and western breakfast foods on the other. It was decent, but the view was something else!

Western food
Japanese food
This was our first day really navigating the train station, and we were so utterly confused. It wasn't for lack of English, because it was everywhere on the signs. But the train station was just so massive! All the different lines were color coded, but it was hard to figure out how to get to the right color. Nevertheless, we managed to find our way to Osaka Castle after asking one of the people at the train station for directions.

It wasn't a very long ride, and my heart skipped a beat when I began to see pretty colored trees! The train station is right at the beginning of the entrance to Osaka Castle, so it was very convenient.

How cute is she?
Now you have to remember, the castle has been burned down and rebuilt more than once. Don't expect the inside to look anything like a castle. It was full of different historical figures and things like that. Imagine a text book come to life. Truth be told, I was completely uninterested in those things and just went straight to the top of the castle on the elevator.

The grounds of the castle was actually very pretty. It was like a park, and you could walk around everywhere. Of course there were souvenir shops and some touristy activities, like shooting a bow and arrow. I think I actually enjoyed the grounds more than I enjoyed the actual castle. 

If I'm completely honest, Osaka Castle could probably be skipped. It's extremely touristy, and although the castle is very nice, It's hard to forget that this is not the original. And when you see the inside and how it is not at all like a castle, a little bit of you dies inside. 

After the castle, we headed over to Kaiyukan Aquarium. I was extremely excited to see whale sharks, and spider crabs. Kevin could have done without seeing any animal with the word spider in its name, but I absolutely needed to see them. But first, there were sea lions:

Fabulous sea lions.
There was a sun fish! I explained to Kevin how they live in the deep and come up to the surface so other fish could clean off all the parasites from it. He did not seem very interested. 

This seal decided that it wanted to play with Kevin, and followed his hand all over the place. I wanted to try it too, but as soon as I got up to the glass, I was bombarded by Japanese children and lost my place at the glass.

But that's okay, I got to hang out with some whale sharks!

The aquarium itself was on seven or eight different levels. We started at the top and worked our way down. Here's what some of the viewing areas looked like. 

And then, I got to see my spider crabs! They were HUGE! I only wish I had a banana for scale or something.

On the other end of the spectrum, there were very tiny jellyfish that were really beautiful. 

There was a petting area, and I finally got to touch a shark! It really does feel like sandpaper, like I've heard on TV. I also got to touch a manta ray, which felt slimy and disgusting. No offense to manta rays. 

When we left the aquarium it was already dark, and FREEZING! It's right near the ocean, so it was much colder than anywhere else we had since experienced in the city. I had to go and buy myself some gloves, I was so cold.

But the ferris wheel was beautiful (and humongous).

Tips for Kaiyukan Aquarium: 
  • Dedicate at least three hours to this place. If you love sea life, you are going to gawk at every tank that you come to. Plan some time for that!
  • Go on a weekday. I'm not sure how crowded it gets on the weekends, but I would imagine it would be full of families with small children, people on dates, things like that. It was relatively quiet when we went, no huge throngs of people.
  • At the train station, they offer a package deal for train fare as well as admission to the aquarium. A very friendly station attendant told us this, and led us to the station master's office, where we procured our packages that included the train pass (for a round trip), admission ticket, and a map of the aquarium. I can't remember exactly how much it was, but it supposedly saved us a little bit of money. It's convenient, either way.
  • When you get to the train station, there are signs everywhere showing you how to get to the aquarium. Even on the street, there are signs. It's impossible to get lost! 

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