The stunning Osaka Castle

I dropped in at Osaka today to capture the stunning Osaka Castle in the evening light.

Osaka, Chūō-ku is the second largest metropolis of Japan. It’s a bustling city with over 19 million inhabitants. The city is well-connected by the subway. During my first few days in Osaka, I used to feel very lost making my way through the confusing subway. But I have made progress in the last few months and now am able to understand the routes better.

We started from Nara after lunch.

Nara to Osaka Castle

We reached the Tembabashi Station at about 4 pm. In my opinion its the easiest route to the Castle while coming from Nara. From the station its just a 10 minute walk to the castle.

A wide moat surrounds the grounds encircling the castle. In the center of the park, surrounded by the moat, the castle is built atop a tall stone foundation to protect its occupants from attackers.

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle was built by the hegemon Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who ruled Japan in the latter half of the 16th century, on the site of a temple called Ishiyama Hongan-ji. The construction work began in 1583 and most buildings including the castle tower were completed by 1585. Tens of thousands of people were contracted for the construction which lasted nearly two years.

The stone foundation itself is said to consist of  about 40,000 stones. There is an interesting story that powerful daimyo from all parts of Japan competed in sending the large rocks for the castle, to display their loyalty to the Toyotomi Hideyoshi.

The castle was destroyed in the forthcoming years and then rebuilt in 1931. The current structure is a concrete reproduction of the original and the interior functions as a museum. The central castle building is five stories on the outside, sitting on a high stone foundation. The castle’s interior consists of eight floors devoted mainly to exhibits. The castle tower has large golden dragon fish ornamental shining on the rooftop. Just below the rooftop viewpoint, the exterior walls are decorated with golden tigers.

Small packets of clouds went floating by the castle as we walked around the garden. After a bit of wandering about the castle grounds we came across some weeping Sakura trees on the north side of the garden.

The evening at Osaka Castle

A small bridge on the north side connects the castle with the grounds, over the moat. Evening was gradually setting in and the sky had begun to change into a multicolored canvas.

Beside the bridge, over the moat, a couple of pleasure boats were tied up. Business hours had closed by then and the boats floated nonchalantly over the moat as the sun was just about to hide behind the tall trees.

After a few minutes the sun went to sleep and we started our walk towards the viewpoint I had decided upon to take the evening shot of Osaka Castle.

Osaka Castle at Night

Finally, the moment for which I came here. The light was perfect. I set up my gear on the high stone wall and took this stunning view of the Osaka Castle. For the next 10 minutes the Osaka Castle looked like a fantasy structure from the mythical age of dragons.

Once the lights came on, the castle was illuminated in a burst of bright white light. I packed up my gear and we head back towards the Tembabashi Station.

It was a lovely evening at the castle. The exteriors of the Castle are stunning. There is always a good breeze blowing on the grounds. Many locals use the grounds for jogging in the evenings. Overall its a good place to spend an evening.

Thanks for sticking around to read my journal. If you have any questions, please use the comments section below. If you are in Osaka, you must visit the Kaiyukan Aquarium, the best aquarium I have seen in Japan or if you are looking for a quite evening, just wander around the Osaka Bay.


1583 CE

Built by

Toyotomi Hideyoshi

Castle Tower Timings

9:00 to 17:00 (entrance until 16:30)
Closed: December 28 to January 1

Admission Fees

Adults: ¥600

Wonders of the Pacific at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

The freezing cold of previous week was gone. The Nara sky was again an endless blue and, even though it was a work weekday, we just couldn’t let this awesome weather go to waste. We still had the Surutto Kansai Pass with us. So we decided to go explore some incredible creatures of the sea at Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan.

The Surutto Pass does not cover any JR trains, so we took a train from Kintetsu Nara Station to Osaka Namba. From there we made a short halt at Umeda. From there we took the Osaka Subway Midosuji Line to Hommachi. At Hommachi, we transferred to the Chuo line to Osakako station. We disembarked from subway at Osakako station and walked down to the Osaka Kaiyukan which is about a 10 minute walk away.

As we neared the Aquarium, we found the huge, red-colored, Tenpozan Ferris Wheel looming over us. Its one of the larger wheels I have seen to date. Definitely bigger than the one we rode on in Rinku Town. The Red and Navy colored, Kaiyukan Aquarium is just next to Tenpozan wheel. It was already 2 pm so before entering the Aquarium, we stepped inside the food court to grab some lunch. I had a large bowl of French Fries and Mani got herself a plate of Pasta.

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After lunch, we headed towards the Kaiyukan Aquarium. The Kaiyukan (海遊館) is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Osaka. Conceived in 1990 by Peter Chermayeff, it holds some 580 species of marine life. The Japanese name, Kaiyukan literally means ‘Playing in the Sea Pavilion’. The aquarium is enormous and holds various exhibits from the Pacific. Mani got the tickets while I took some pictures of the Aquarium building. Admission tickets cost us 2300 Yen each.

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The tour begins at the Aqua Gate – a tubular ceiling aquarium of colorful fishes. From the tube, we came out from the other end into a replica of a Japan forest. In the Japan Forest section we saw a few Asian small-clawed Otters having fun in an artificially created waterfall. From the open area, we went down a series of steps into a long spiral path.

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The aquarium is a 7-storey structure with various exhibits centered around a large central tank that spans the entire height of the building. The central tank itself holds about 11,000 tons of water. We started the tour on the top floor and made our way down the building in a spiral around the central tank. The upper sections of the building holds some land animals as well. We passed an Otter, some penguins from Antarctica and a bunch of Sea Lions. Luckily for us it was Sea Lion feeding time and they were performing. It was a Wednesday afternoon and we yet had  this massive crowd in front of us. After enjoying the performance, we moved along the route towards the fish tanks. Right after the Sea Lions is a tank full of colorful fishes from the Great Barrier Reef. The various tanks along the path harbor over 480 different types of fish, most I have never heard of. Some like the Hammerhead, I remember reading about from my heavy Encyclopedia book in my school years.

The Pacific Ocean tank is the largest and holds Kaiyukan’s largest species. A whale shark called Kai-kun, the world’s largest fish, can be seen at this part of the aquarium, with other equally fascinating fishes like the hammerhead shark and the giant sting rays from the Pacific Rim. The spiral path took us around the Pacific tank and we were able to observe marine life from different depths and perspectives. Towards the bottom of the central tank some seats are set up. I sat there looking at the impressive display of aquatic life. It was extremely relaxing. 

Mani asked me why they are kept together, wondering about the smaller ones that could be consumed by the bigger fishes. Well, the theme of the aquarium is based on James Lovelock’s Gaia principle that proposes that organisms interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating, complex system that contributes to maintaining the conditions for life on the planet.

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After some soothing moments in front of the Pacific Ocean tank, we went deeper inside to the lower depths of the aquarium. Arguably the most magical part of the Kaiyukan is the floating Jellyfish section which displays a wide collection of jellyfishes. I am just out of words to explain the excitement that was flowing through me when I laid eyes on those beautiful and tender creatures. After taking some macro shots of the jelly fishes, we headed up an escalator.

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Up the escalator is an open pool with a couple of Ringed Seals from the Arctic. Snow was spread out beside the pool and the seals were having a fun time swimming. Beyond the pool we reached a big fish tank which contained sharks and stingrays from the Maldives. They allow people to touch the fish in this tank with a warning of not to touch the Rays’ tail and the Shark’s mouth. I folded up my sleeves and felt the sting-rays back. It was soft as velvet.

Just before the exit, there is a big gift shop where you can buy cute stuffed animals and souvenirs. I had great fun watching everything from dolphins playing in the water, penguins community gathering, huge Japanese crabs, jelly fish floating up and down, and so many other interesting marine life. Watching all the lovely colorful sea creatures swimming around in larger-than-life tanks was overwhelming. In my opinion, 3 hours is a minimum to see this huge aquarium.

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By the time we exited the aquarium the sun had set into a cold evening. The aquarium and the area around us was illuminated in beautiful blue lights. The Osaka Aquarium is one of the most interesting aquarium exhibits in the world. We walked towards the Tenpozan Ferris Wheel lit up in multi-colored lights.

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Tenpozan Ferris Wheel

In 1997, the Tenpozan Ferris Wheel opened and was established as the world’s largest Ferris wheel. It held the record for two years until 1999, when the Cosmo Clock was built in Yokohama. Along with the aquarium and its exhibits, visitors also come to enjoy a ride on this giant wheel. The Ferris wheel is 100 meters in diameter and reaches just over 112 meters high.  For 700 Yen you can enjoy the spectacular views from this phenomenal Ferris wheel.

Cosmo Square

It was late evening and my back was aching from lugging the tripod all day. But the excitement of the aquarium egged me on and we went for a light stroll at Cosmo Square waterfront. It’s just one station from Osakako.  One can see the beautiful Osaka skyline from here. The wind was strong and cold. My fingers were freezing as I took some shots of the Tenpozan Ferris Wheel from here. After chatting on the water-front for about half an hour, we headed back to Nara.

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Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan Faqs


Opening Times:
10 a.m.-8 p.m. Last entry one hour prior to the closing time. Extended hours during holidays.

Entrance Fees:
2,300 Yen


Five minutes walk from Osakako Station on the Osaka Municipal Subway Chuo Line.

An Evening in Rinku Town

Life sure could do with a little less Adventure…

Apologies for a bit of a rant first up. My day began with the most unfortunate news that I cannot buy a Pocket Wifi in Japan, not on my tourist visa. I could literally feel my face turn pale as we hurriedly set out for Kansai Airport to get the rental ones from SoftBank.

Kansai Airport is an 85 minute trip from the JR Nara Bus Stop in Nara. It costs 2500 Yen approx, depending on the Bus. The Airport Limousine ride to Nara from the Kansai Airport had cost us 2050 Yen, a couple of days before. It was a lazy ride with the bus passing through endless stretches of green paddy fields. We reached Kansai Airport around 3 p.m. The bus usually drops off passengers at Terminal One. We straightaway headed towards the SoftBank shop, which is a couple of floors below on the Ground Floor.

The SoftBank counter was devoid of the usual crowd and I was hoping they had a piece left. It is always a good idea to book your Pocket WiFi rentals at least 3 days in advance from the country you are travelling via internet. Not a very safe idea to just drop-in at the counter. They might not have stocks.

The rental cost me 1490 Yen per day inclusive of insurance, but they block around 40,000 Yen on the Credit Card in case the device would get damaged or lost. The process is fast and it didn’t take more than 15 minutes to get my Pocket Wifi.

After my moment of relief, and a pause after which color started to return to my face, we decided to stay back for a few hours.

When Mani had visited Japan, for the very first time, she had stayed at the Japan Foundation building in Osaka. So we agreed to spend the next few hours we had, at Rinku Town. A Limousine Bus is available right from the Airport to Rinku Town. It costs 200 Yen per person for the ride. While we waited, Mani got us a drink from the Vending machines. Vending machines were still a wonder for me, coming from India.

Rinku Town Premium Outlets

The bus was exactly on time. Midway, it stopped to drop off a few passengers at the Kansai Airport Observation Deck. The Airport is on a small island off the Osaka Bay and we drove past a long flyover over the blue sea. On the way Mani excitedly, pointed out to me, the Japan Foundation building, where she had stayed for over a month.

The ride to Rinku Town was about 30 minutes. The bus dropped us off at the Rinku Town Premium Outlets Mall. It’s a huge semi-open air mall, one of the largest shopping center in Osaka.

We roamed around the shops. I bought a scarf for Mani and a cap for myself. By 4 p.m. we were a bit hungry and we went inside a Ramen shop. The food was just as tasty as it looked.

Among the wide range of well-known foreign brands, I was happy to notice some of my favorite anime goods. But they were rather expensive.

Giant Ferris Wheel

Rinku no Hoshi, the giant Ferris Wheel,  is a landmark of Rinku Town, and commands a panoramic view of the Bay area and Kansai Airport.

When we reached the giant wheel, it was still bright & sunny. We waited for a while for the sun to descend so we could enjoy the ride.

Just below the wheel, a sweet lady was selling Japanese sweets. Mani had some Dango. Mitarashi Dango is a sweet Japanese dumpling made from rice flour. They are generally served on a bamboo skewer and covered in a sweet soy glaze.

As the evening set in, we bought the tickets to the Ferris Wheel. A ride on the Ferris Wheel costs 700 Yen per person. If you want to go for a second ride, they give a discount coupon for 200 Yen.

The ride on the Wheel is of 15 minutes, but it’s 15 minutes, awesomely spent. One one side one can see the beautiful city and on the other the vast ocean. 

If you are up there on the Ferris wheel at sunset, it adds magic to the ride.

The Rinku town area in not about just the shopping mall. After the wonderful ride on the Ferris wheel, we wandered around the shore, catching some breathtaking shots along the bay.

Once the sun had set, in the fading light we could see the long bridge connecting the mainland to the airport.

As the light faded away, we walked down towards the Japan Foundation building. Mani used to tell me over voice chats how he would walk down to Rinku Town over the weekends, so I wanted to experience it myself.

With my tripod in hand we kept walking till we reached a bridge called Tajiri Sky Bridge. It was a cable-stayed bridge with promenades on both sides.

After enjoying some lovely view of the bay from the bridge, we began our walk back too Rinku Town Station.

The train station is connected with the mall via a over-bridge, so we passed through the mall. It was late in the evening and the crowds had mostly dispersed by then.

The Ferris Wheel had stopped and was looking glorious at night.

Rinku Town is a lively place to spend an evening. Most of the stores are a bit premium but the mesmerizing landscape around it is free.

Back to Nara

The Airport has an automated ticket counter and the bus stand is right opposite to the ticket counter.

Thanks for reading! I look forward to your comments and questions. If you are looking to explore more of the Osaka region, follow my story as I make friends with the deer at the enigmatic Nara Deer Park in Nara.