Thursday, April 6, 2017

5 Days in Japan: Day Four and Five

My previous adventures, you can read Day One and Two here, and Day Three here.

On Day Four of our trip, one of Judy's plans was to see the Osaka Castle. So, we got up early, had a light breakfast, and headed out to the Shinsaibashi Train Station to catch the subway to the castle. It was quite early, and the train station was dead after 8am. I guess most of the people were already at work or school.

 We read that the streets of Shinsaibashi are known for their shopping. From what we saw, most of the shops were high end merchandise. As we walked from our apt. down the street, we saw many interesting shops and restaurants along the way. Most of them closed still. We decided we'd try to check them out after our Osaka Castle visit. I noticed there were street poles with a lot of graffiti on them, which were also made to look like a person holding a light. It was very artistic! Sadly, I didn't take a shot of it.
 Once we got into the train station, we sat, drank coffee, and the girls had cinnamon toast. Then, it was time for us to catch the subway to the castle. Taby was very knowledgeable with her phone app on translations of the Japanese Characters, and also of our ride plan for getting us to our destination. Yay, Taby! Our personal tour guide in Japan!
 We arrived at Osaka Castle about 9am or so. There were people everywhere. You could see all the cherry tree blossoms too. But, first we had to find out where we could rent a wheelchair for me or catch a ride inside the castle grounds...
 We found an electric car taking tourists too and from the main castle grounds. It was about 200yen for adults, Seniors had a discount, and 100yen for kids. The tickets are only one way, but not bad a price.

I took some photos of the Sakura. So many tourists and lots of pretty cherry blossoms to see...

 The day was a bit overcast, but we still wanted to sit under some shade just in case. I decided since we couldn't find a wheelchair, I would sit on the bench, and told Judy and the girls to go ahead and enjoy the castle. Judy walked around close by to looked at the food vendors, and the girls decided to get some shaved ice desserts. Judy came back with a stick of fried crab!

 Sara got a rainbow flavored shaved ice, and Taby bought a Sakura flavored one. She said they had put some white icing on it. Both were delicious! The Sakura one, tasted interesting, not too perfumey to me.

 As I sat and did some people watching, I noticed some had wheelchairs, but it was their personal chairs. Many elderly and young folks, some with young kids, but most kids, I suppose where at school at this time. There was construction happening around the grounds also. Then, Judy came back to me, and she had a wheelchair! Yay! Apparently, the castle does offer wheelchairs for free! Judy mentioned it was a free service provided by Their Local Lions Club. How nice of them, even better, thank goodness.
 We felt like celebrities, because with wheelchair access we were taken passed all the long lines and directly up to the elevator. We were even given the secret way to press to call the elevator staff. Inside the castle, are 8 floors of Japanese history of the Osaka Castle and Toyotomi Hideyoshi lineage. The castle was rebuilt with only the foundation that was original to it. You can read a bit more on the castle's history here.
 I just had to take a few more shots with the trees and castle... Hehe.
 Once at the top floor. It was very crowded with only narrow walkways. At first, Taby and I, decided to just hang back and wait for Judy and Sara. But, then we found a place to wheel the chair onto the outer balcony. Boy, was that a mistake... You see, I did mention it was crowded, right? It was much worse outside on the look out deck. People were all crowded against the edges overlooking the view. As Taby pushed my wheelchair up against the wall opposite of the fence. Other tourists, were either not paying attention to me and my wheelchair or just didn't care that I was there. Many moments, people just pushed against my chair to get passed me, or walked over in front as Taby tried to push me through...
 I managed to get a few shots, while tourists moved away and over to the other sides of the look out. It was very disappointing, no common courtesy from the other tourists, I thought... only by the staff. I mean, literally, Taby had to yell, "Excuse Me!" both in Japanese and English just to get others to move so we could get passed and out of their way. I told her to forget it, and if we could please just go back inside. So, we did. We got back in some how, Judy and Sara were there waiting for us to go to the next level. On the 7th floor, were cool hologram images, and little areas, to step on and watch a video of the culture and life of the castle's ole' days...
 Unfortunately, we are not able to take photos of certain areas, I believe it was the 7th floor down to the 5th floor or so. Again, while on the 7th floor and 6th floor Taby and I were met with very rude tourists, with some, not even watching where they were going. I sat there and saw this one man try to walk over my feet to get to what he wanted to see! One guy even tripped over my chair, and didn't even look to see what he had tripped on?! I do understand people wanting to see something closer or gander at something. But, please, notice who is around you or by you and always say, "Excuse me." or "Sorry." if you didn't notice me there.
Quite interesting to watch, and see how others treat you when you are disabled. Thank goodness, for the staff at the Osaka Castle! They were so kind, and very accommodating to us. There was even one point, when another tourist wanted to ride down the handicap elevator to get to the next floor, the Staff had to block him off and say, "Please take the stairs." Of course he looked upset.

All in all, it was quite an experience. I did get to read and see some of the information on Hideyoshi. But, Taby and I were ready to leave from that experience from other tourists. I do hope Judy and Sara enjoyed it though... I believe they did? We headed back out the main gates and Taby wheeled me as far as she could, so that Judy could return the wheelchair. We sat and waited for the electric car. Once we got out of the castle grounds and back to the start... We walked to the nearest taxi cab and got back to the train station. We decided to do a little shopping by the Shinsaibashi Station and also eat lunch there before heading back on the subway to our stop.

 By the time we got back to the Shinsaibashi Station we came from, we decided to have dessert and coffee. Sara chose a blueberry ice cream with waffles dessert. I just sat and relaxed drinking my coffee. When we were ready to leave the train station, we found a taxi and were dropped to our apt. On the way, I saw this mural on the wall, and tried my best to capture it. LOL

 Sara and I stayed in the apt. to recoup, shower and pack our bags, while, Judy and Taby, after resting a bit, left to do more shopping. Sara wanted to take a shot of the Kinder type candy toy we got back at Tempozan's Family Mart. Inside, was a chocolate egg, then a capsule toy with a cute "Sully" from Disney's "Monsters Inc." Tsum Tsum.

 On our last day, Day Five, it was time for us to pack up and get ready to go to the Kansai International Airport for Guam.

 We decided early on, that we would take a taxi to the airport instead of riding the subway or train. Because it would be about the same price, but at least this would be with less stops and less crowded. On the way, we could see some very interesting places. We were on the Freeway, I had never been on there in Japan. It took us about 45 minutes to get to the Kansai Airport, and a long the way we could see other large Ferris Wheels, Industrial areas, and the mountain range behind most of Kansai. It was a lot larger than we had expected. There were, I believe 2 toll places we went by.

 Once inside Kansai Airport, we went straight to the ticket counter and checked in. We also requested for a wheelchair there. Once, out of TSA lines, we headed to our gate, but made a quick stop at Starbucks for some food. Judy hadn't eaten breakfast, so I was glad, she did get something to eat. While she sat and ate, a lady from our gate counter came to me and set up our seats tickets. Taby and Sara were shopping for some quick gifts for family back home.

We didn't have to wait too long. The flight was ready to board by about 10:45am. We got on and took off which not too much trouble. We arrived safely back on Guam about 3:45pm. It was definitely, an amazing trip and one we all will treasure. Five days, was fast, but so worth every minute! Now, that we are becoming more and more familiar with the area, we may come back sooner?!

Thank you for visiting and reading about my journey!
It's back to work for me... ~ ggsdolls