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Japan Travel

THE CITIES OF CASTLES

Traveler Ni continues his trip through Japan

I left Danilo’s house early in the morning. We quickly visited Ueno’s castle which was small and surrounded by a moat filled with water. We didn’t go in, we just watched from the outside. After the visit, Danilo dropped me off at the train station, where I had to do two transfers until I arrived in Osaka. Despite it being Sunday, Danilo had some commitments.

Osaka is the third largest city in Japan, capital of the province of the same name, with 2.7 million inhabitants, also known for the beautiful castle surrounded by a huge moat with water, is one of the most important port cities in Japan. The Osaka castle built in 1583 A.D. was destroyed several times by fire and bombing and finally rebuilt in 1997.

After seeing the castle, in just fifteen minutes I traveled by bullet train, from Osaka to Kobe, a neighboring city and capital of Hyogo Province, with 1.6 million inhabitants. I didn’t know what I was going to see, there were only modern buildings, no remnants of the earthquake since January 17, 1995, when more than 6,000 people died. Kobe is also an important port city from where the first Japanese immigrant ship departed for Brazil more than 100 years ago.

From Kobe I took another “shinka” to Himeji, in Hyogo province with 500,000 inhabitants, to see the castle considered the most beautiful, according to the lonely planet guide, but I did not enter, it was raining and I took some pictures from afar. Besides, after seeing so much castle it all looked the same. It is the only castle that was not destroyed and rebuilt, retaining its original form dating from 1580, housed forty-eight feudal lords.

I returned to Osaka, got in touch with Teru, a friend of my brother’s, and went out at night to get to know a little more of the vibrant city. We went to Dotomburi, where we remembered the “noir” setting of “Blade Runner”, with its thousands of lights and thousands of Japanese. We ate “Okonomyake”, a typical food of the region.

Dotomburi at night.

I ended up staying in the tiny “squeeze” of Teru, near Shin-Osaka, the smallest apartment I’ve ever seen, there was neither room nor kitchen, it was a kitchinete that looked like just a hallway. Teru spoke good English, unlike most Japanese, because he had studied English in Canada with my brother.

Teru explained to me the basic difference between “temples” and “shrines” that appeared on the maps and at every corner, which in Portuguese translate everything as temples. The temple is a Buddhist temple, while the shrine is a Shinto temple. Physically only the “shrine” has the “torii”, a kind of portal or red bow, like the one that has in the neighborhood of Liberdade, in São Paulo. The symbol of Buddhism is the inverted Nazi swastika, as if looking from a mirror, in fact it was Hitler who reversed the Buddhist swastika.

By Traveler Ni

I have traveled the world for the past two decades and recorded my experiences. Come join me on my travels and plan your own adventure.

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