Tenshu

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On day two in Osaka I wasn’t really sure what to do. I woke up, had some breakfast in my hotel, and then went straight back up to my room to figure out my days festivities. My sister mentioned Osaka Castle before and as it turns out I had it on my list of places to visit, so off I went!

I didn’t really know much about Osaka Castle so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but upon arriving to the outer moat of the castle I instantly felt so relaxed. It’s amazing that such a peaceful and calm piece of history exists in the middle of one of the busiest cities around, yet here it is. Now all I had to do was figure out how to get inside…

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The surrounding area is one big park that seemed to be popular for people who were out for a jog. While we’re on the topic of that, I want to take a quick moment to tell you just how safe Japan is (for the most part). People here would leave their phones, wallets, and house keys down on the ground, go for a jog around the castle, come back to check their phone, and then continue to go for another lap. Like it’s THAT safe. Now I’m not saying that you can just leave your stuff around everywhere around the country, but for the most part you really don’t have to worry too much!

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After enjoying the morning peace and quiet for a bit, I eventually made my way towards the main grounds.

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On the way to the castle, I got a bit sidetracked by Hokoku Shrine which is located in the same area.

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There wasn’t too much going on here but it was still very tranquil; quite the contrast from the rest of Osaka but it was a welcomed change of pace.

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After picking up some omamori from the gift shop, I continued onwards to try and find my way inside the castle.

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Eventually I made it to the main grounds…

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…where the incredibly gorgeous castle resides.

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They don’t build them like this anymore…

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There are plenty of things to see on the inside including this giant golden fish dragon looking thing, and you can even dress up as a samurai warrior!

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The third and fourth floors however are off limits for photos, but I can tell you that they were both filled with priceless war artifacts from Japan’s history. There were ancient scrolls, armour, katana’s, jewelry, and even a fully recreated traditional tea room just to name a few things.

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A very neat hologram projected onto a diorama showing various recreated scenes of Japanese history. If any of you have been to the Marvel exhibit then I can tell you that this is just like the small Ant-Man displays.

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From the top of the tower you can get a pretty good view of Osaka.

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The grounds themselves are very beautiful again, but eventually it was time to go to my next destination.

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Again I didn’t really have a plan as to what to do next, so I just went with the flow and ended up at Universal Studios Japan!

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It’s been a LONG time since I’ve last been to Universal Studios Hollywood so I was quite excited to visit this particular location.

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A lot of people asked me if it was worth it, and at least in my opinion I would say that it was. It certainly didn’t feel as big or have as many things going on as the Hollywood location, but everything is just so clean and everyone is so happy here.

As a side note, if you’re planning on going on any rides they have a separate line for people who were by themselves vs. if you’re in a group, so if you’re traveling solo then you get a MUCH shorter lineup time! No idea if any of the other locations do this these days but they certainly didn’t 20 years ago.

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For the most part however it still had that unmistakable Universal Studios feel with Hollywood being the theme of everything of course.

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I would later find out that some of the attractions here were originally from Hollywood as well, such as Backdraft and the Jurassic Park ride which I FINALLY got to ride on (long story short but my family wouldn’t let me or my sister go on the ride as kids).

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Some other attractions that are shared between locations however are the iconic JAWS and WaterWorld shows. One thing that I was a little bummed that they didn’t have here though was the famous Studio Tour. Oh well…

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One thing that Hollywood definitely didn’t have when I was a kid was The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter!

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The main ride here is located inside Hogwarts…

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…which you can explore through in two different ways!

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The first is just by walking straight through it to take a look at the amazing interior which of course is filled with iconic items from the saga.

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They move, they talk!

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The second way to enjoy Hogwarts is simply by lining up for the ride itself (note – this is the only ride I saw that did not have a separate lineup for individuals).

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The interior was incredibly dark but there are plenty of details to see here. If you do drop by I’d recommend walking through it once first so you can take your time looking at everything, and then line up later when you’re ready to go on the ride (the paths are slightly different so you will see some different things as well)!

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Back outside, I ventured off into the next area nearby…

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…which apparently was Wonderland.

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In other words, this entire section was everything lollipops, sunshine, and rainbows.

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Oh yeah and of course this is Japan so there was an entire Hello Kitty section including a museum called Hello Kitty’s Ribbon Collection. You’ll have to use your imagination for that one as that was one attraction that I did not go into…

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More sunshine and rainbows.

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As the sun was setting I stumbled upon Mel’s Drive-In which hosted a row of classic American cars out front. This was THE perfect time and setting for these cars! There’s just something special about seeing USDM classics all the way over in JDM land…

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The sun also sets FAST during this time of year so next thing I knew it was completely dark out.

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With the day coming to an end soon, I quickly made my rounds including going back to Harry Potter World to go on the main ride which was rather wild (do NOT go on it right after eating).

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As part of my Japan trip, I tried to eat as many different Japanese foods as I could but that was literally non-existent here as everything is American themed. No big deal, as the Three Broomsticks was nearby and had a very juicy roast beef and even pumpkin juice!

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After my delicious meal I was pretty much done for the day and just finished off with a photo of the Universal globe outside.

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The next day I was meeting up with a friend in Kobe and didn’t want to venture off too far, so I took this opportunity to explore the Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi area.

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It was almost a little eerie seeing it this peaceful here during the day…

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…but back in the heart of Shinsaibashi it was still as busy as ever!

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Eventually that night I made it to Kobe, met up with my friend, ate some Kobe beef (which was mind-blowing by the way), took this one shot from the station, and went straight back to Osaka. Time for some rest and get ready for my tuning shop tour the next day!

-brandon.

Click here to view the full photo set on Flickr.

See more from my Japan trip here !

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