As a solo female traveler, I enjoy getting off the beaten path (i.e. tourist path) when traveling abroad. So, when I planned my trip to Japan, I made sure Osaka was on the list of places to visit.As Japan's second largest metropolitan after Tokyo, Osaka is a must see. Click To Tweet
I planned my commute from Kyoto to Osaka beforehand but somewhere in the midst of calculating travel time, there was a disconnect. See, I was under the impression I could use my handy-dandy Japan Rail Pass to commute from Kyoto to Osaka in just under 30 minutes. It appeared straightforward beforehand. However, the commute was closer to two hours.
I’m not sure if the snafu had to do with the day of travel (Sunday) or what but the shinkansens (bullet trains) displayed a travel time of just under two hours from Kyoto Station to Osaka. This couldn’t be the special rapid service shown on the timetable.
Instead of trekking back to Kyoto Station which was a 25-minute ride from my lovely Airbnb, I ventured out on the Hankyu Railway directly across the street. The trip cost approximately 500 yen. I got to see many other towns and the very popular Umeda Station.
The scenic view and lively commuters made the two-hour train ride feel like a breeze.
A few transfers later, I arrived in Osaka.
It was a rather quiet Sunday morning. The shops were opening, many were off to work, and the weather was perfect for strolling around Kohama shopping district. The outdoor strip mall usually filled with shoppers was practically vacant.
Exploring the variety shops, I sampled a cherry blossom rice snack, watched the making of Takoyaki (a fried ball filled with octopus) which resembled hush puppies, and indulged in what became my favorite snack, the delicious Kaitenyaki. The sweet pancake-like pastry filled with red bean paste loaded with flavor and surprisingly filling.
Here’s a photo story of my walks of Osaka:
Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
This is one of the oldest shrines in Japan dating back to the 3rd century before Buddhism. The structure is unique in that it’s built without influence from the mainland. You’ll notice straight roofs throughout the shrine. Newer shrines typically have curved roofs.
Sumiyoshi is a Shinto shrine and one of the best power spots in Osaka. You’ll notice the Shinto gods throughout who protect travelers, fisherman and sailors at sea. Prayers of prosperity and well-being answered here.
Upon entrance, you must complete a water cleanse as you see me doing below. By cleaning your hands, you purify yourself in preparation to enter the shrine. Additionally, you rinse your mouth with the water, and spit out to cleanse your mind.
I was a bit hesitant about the mouth rinse but survived. The water ritual is common at entrance to many shrines in Japan.
Sorihashi Bridge AKA Drum Bridge
Couldn’t leave Osaka without striking a pose on the famous Drum Bridge AKA Taiko-bashi (太鼓) Bridge.
It’s a very steep bridge with a 48 degree bend over a reflecting pond just before entering the shrine. The design mirrors the rainbow connecting the mortal world to the world of Gods.
When you walk over the bridge, you cleanse your sins and purify your mind and soul with a water ritual.
In this angle, you can see how the Taiko Bridge gained its nickname as the Drum Bridge given its resemblance.
Omokaru-ishi Fortune-Telling Stone
Let’s make a wish!
As shown below, this is a fortune-telling stone. It is heavy! Like all parts of the shrine, this is a sacred area. Upon approach, you lift the stone for good measure. Then, you make a wish and lift the stone again. If the stone is lighter, your wish will come true. If the weight feels heavier than when you first picked up the stone, sorry, your wish will not come true.
Honestly, the stone was heavy both times!
Japanese rabbit deity at the Sumiyoshi-taisha grand shrine in Osaka. Rub for fortune and good luck. Sounds good, let me hug you too!
The ground is covered in cobblestone. The Gosho Gozen, a small raised altar surrounded by a stone wall, is a sacred fenced in area and sight of where a Shinto deity descended.
Here you can search for three stones with the characters “go”, “dai”, and “riki” written on each. These stones together act as an amulet granting your wishes and prayers for one of the Godairiki which is the five great powers (i.e. physical strength, intelligence, fortune, wealth, and longevity).
You can barely squeeze your hand in between the tight fence in hopes of grabbing the rare stones. Your prayers answered if you collect the stones shown below.
When they are answered, return and replace the stones to pass on the good fortune.
Imagine my excitement to find all three! I purchased a small pouch to take them home as a keepsake.
This is a lot of Sake! The designs on the barrels are advertisements from local businesses.
I just missed Sakura (Cherry Blossoms) in the park but it was still a great day for strolling in Osaka. The park is huge and a great place to meditate or enjoy a romantic picnic.
And, this is what I traveled to Japan for. The beautiful Cherry Blossoms (Sakura). Next year, I’ll get an early start.