Osaka Castle

Osaka, like Kyoto, is also a great place to cycle, albeit with some long slopes that require a bit of pumping and gear work. Our accommodations provided free bikes for me and Wei Chiang to cycle around, so we decided to make it to spend day after our arrival at Osaka Castle and the surrounding park. But not before we dropped by a cafรฉ for brunch.

We went to Lingua cafรฉ, a place with a decent Google Maps rating that was en route. It’s a tourist-friendly place where the owner can understand English, and the menu of sandwiches and other brunch or lunch meals is in English as well. Prices were reasonable by local standards (about 800 yen for mains, 1150 yen for a sandwich set), and I liked their sandwiches. Although I did not get the genuine poutine I expected — I had hoped for curds on my fries, not melted cheese.

When we got to Osaka Castle Park, the hanami was in full swing.

There were festive street snacks on sale, such as cute, 200 yen dorayaki (thick pancakes with filling) that had Doraemon branded on them.

I also tried ichigo daifuku (300 yen), a strawberry-flavoured mochi with strawberry filling and an entire strawberry on top.

In the middle of the park was Osaka Castle, which now contained the Osaka Castle Museum. It cost 600 yen to buy a ticket at the gate. The queues were long, and even after entering through the ticket gate, we still had to wait in line to enter the building.

There were plenty of English descriptions for the ukiyo-e (woodblock) paintings and artifacts depicting stories about the samurai. At the very top, you get a great view of the park and the rest of Osaka.

After leaving the museum, we cycled on the outer part of the park, outside the moat surrounding the castle of the park, just enjoying spring for the rest of the afternoon.

As it got dark, Wei Chiang and I went to seek dinner. Upon a friend’s recommendation, we went to Koji Labo, a place that sold Japanese curry with rice or ramen. Like all curries, they looked messy, but were indisputably delicious.

At 850 yen, my curry ramen, with a slice of chashu and half a soy egg, was pretty good value for the satisfaction, and a great meal to end the day.

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