Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Japan Log 01 : Day 1, Osaka Castle

We arrive at Kansai Airport early in the morning, about 6-7am. Without wasting any time, our tour leader swept us from the airport straight onto the coach to make our way to our first tourist spot. On the way there, morning broke beautifully over the coastline and I did my best to capture it through the window of the coach.

I took a couple more shots along the way, but since I've determined to only showcase highlights, the next shot takes us to the park surrounding Osaka Castle itself.

We were told that the weather in Japan was rather quirky this time round, somehow transiting from spring back to winter and thus upsetting all the predictions on when we'd be able to see some blossoms. With that in mind, I thought to frame the picture above, with the distinction between trees on the left and right. It might be a stretch of interpretation, but one way to look at it is how we normally read from left to right, and thus the transition from green to bare.

Or, I was just trigger-happy and this just happens to be a park scene. :)

Walking along further, we came across a rather interesting metal barrier.

If it were snowing or I had more of a wintery backdrop, this picture would look positively *cold*. Frozen chicken wings, anyone?

But of course the highlight of coming to Osaka Castle would be to see the castle, wouldn't it? And so it was, as we approached it, that we saw it towering over all the busy tourists trying to get the whole castle in frame with their faces somewhere alongside it.

Some tourists and tour groups were really getting into the spirit of things...

... but for my wife and I, we came to Japan for one thing *primarily*... Food. So it didn't take us long to discover the chain of requisite snack shops and their corresponding wares in our faces.

Our first taste of something made in Japan. The octopus balls were huge and steaming in the cold weather, both rather welcoming facts to us poor singaporeans hardly used to the stinging chill of the frequent morning breezes.

We decided to walk about the area instead of going into the castle because we didn't want to spend unneccessarily. Remember? Money is for food only. Well, mostly.

So we checked out a couple of things, and I happened across this bin which made my trigger finger twitch. It would only be much later that we would learn how *hard* it is to actually find a trash bin in Japan. Well, specifically Tokyo. But more on that in the logs to come.

Soon, it was time to gather the tour group and return to our coach to rush off to our next tourist spot. This rushing and tight scheduling would be a theme that would repeat itself over the next few grueling days. And so we bid Osaka Castle a fine morning farewell.

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Japan Log 00 : The Prequel

1705. So the counter on my Nikon D100 tells me. And that not counting the photos taken with the Canon A80. It's going to be tough choosing only the best pictures to accompany what I hope will be a decent travel log.

But before getting into Japan Day 1, here's a little backstory leading up to it.

Kris and I originally wanted to go to Japan during a season that has not much rainfall predicted and with a temperature range that's not too cold or hot. However, as we were investigating the best time for me to take my block leave, Kris happened upon a piece of news that saying that a Tokyo Anime Fair would be held in Japan on March 22-25 2007. This led us to check up the dates around that particular day.

Our idea, in order to sample as much of Japan as we could on our maiden trip, was to book a package tour of about 7 days and then extending for another week for free and easy travel.

After checking with several tour agencies around Chinatown, we decided to settle for CTC. compared to all other agency staff, CTC's was professional and very helpful (Jeffrey and Melvin). Not to mention the fact that they had a confirmed group going on March 11.

So in no time at all, we found ourselves on a JAL flight to Osaka.

(Arrival passage at Kansai Airport, Osaka)

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