Posts Tagged Osaka castle
During the day, Super Dave and I went to Osaka Castle. The castle itself is interesting, but not nearly as interesting as the random English interaction we got before and after the castle.
As we were buying tickets to get into Osaka castle we were approached by a Japanese woman. She greeted us in English and then asked if we were American. We informed her that we were Canadian and Australian, and she thanked us. She then reached out as if to shake my hand, but at the last second grabbed my forearm with both hands, similar to when I used to receive “Indian burns” as a kid. She pushed her hands together, squeezing the skin on my forearm and then released it, looking very impressed. While I was trying to figure out what just happened, she did the same thing to Super Dave. We both stood there, speechless and confused. She grabbed my arm one more time while thanking us over and over, and then she walked away. To this day I have no idea what she was doing, and I half expect that I was featured on some kind of candid camera type comedy show.
After exploring Osaka Castle (my second time, Super Dave’s first), we walked out into the castle grounds where we were greeted by a middle aged Japanese man. He asked us if we were native English speakers. When we answered yes, he asked us to explain the meaning of the word “pledge”. We did our best impression of English teachers and got him to understand. He thanked us, and then told us that he studies English by memorizing famous speeches. He asked if we would listen to him, and then recited the famous “Ask not what your country can do for you” speech by John F Kennedy. The whole thing. Nearly flawlessly.
If the start of our day in Osaka is any indication of how the rest of the day will go, we are in for a very interesting evening.
Japan is filled with old castles, and most of them have been destroyed and rebuilt several times. Osaka Castle is no exception; the main tower and surrounding buildings have been destroyed and rebuilt many times over, with the most recent restoration in 1995. After seeing Himeji Castle twice (which was never destroyed), I wasn’t sure that I would enjoy Osaka castle as much. I ended up being pleasantly surprised.
The current version of Osaka Castle is a restored exterior with a modern museum inside. The museum tells the story of both Osaka and Osaka Castle, which was played key roles in the struggle to reunify Japan in the 1500s. The museum was interesting and interactive, and featured excellent English signs.
We explored the castle for a few hours, and then headed towards the obligatory gift shop near the exit. Outside the gift shop is a giant golden tiger and a box full of samurai gear so you can pose for a picture. There were a lot of Japanese people standing around, looking at the tiger and cool samurai clothes, obviously wanting to take a picture, but nobody wanted to be the first person to step up. Fortunately my dad was there to bravely volunteer:
My dad had just traveled half way around the world and was in a modern restoration of a 500 year old castle. I don’t think anything could have stopped him from getting a picture with a fake sword in front of a golden tiger. The crowd of Japanese people, now happy that none of them had to go first, formed an orderly line to dress up and take pictures.
This is exactly the kind of thing that would have embarrassed me when I was a grumpy teenager. However, as a 27 year old I realized that my dad was actually pretty cool, not to mention fun to travel with.
Next up, Osaka Aquarium!