Friday, October 28, 2011

Temples, castles and steak to rival Texas

I last left you halfway through Japan.  We'll pick up there.  Friday I woke up feeling good and headed for another temple, the Temple of Pure Water.  This one has been one of Japan's most revered for centuries.  The two most distinguishing features are the 3 streams of water that you can drink from, each of which is supposed to confer a unique blessing on those who drink it.  The other is the temple itself, including a large balcony, that was built without the use of a single nail.

Kiyomizudera Temple

As you can see, you collect the water in a cup on the end of a long pole before drinking from your hand.

After finishing up here, i caught a train and headed for Osaka to meet my friends Jason and Jeb for the rest of the weekend.  After finding them at our hotel we set off for the main night area of Osaka, Namba.  This was the craziness you expect when you come to Japan.

 Namba Restaurants

Namba during a soft rain

The next morning, it was pouring rain so we decided on a different type of adventure.  We took a train out to Kobe, home of the world-famous Kobe Beef.  We stopped at one of their best restaurants and ordered Kobe beef for lunch.  It was crazy expensive (this is Japan after all) but well worth it for the experience alone.  A personal chef prepared our food just for us at our own private table.  And the steak was outstanding!  One of the 2 or 3 best i've ever eaten.  Afterwards, we wandered around Kobe for the afternoon just taking in the sights before heading back to our hotel in Osaka.  

 Our table

Our personal chef preparing the Kobe steak

Sunday we got a break and the weather cleared up enough to allow us to visit Osaka Castle.  Osaka Castle was originally build in the 15th century but it was burned down numerous times throughout it's history until it's final reconstruction in 1931.  The Castle looks exactly as it did in glory period and was surrounded by an impressive array of moats and walls.  We walked all around it, through it and up to the top for an especially nice view of Osaka.  

Osaka Castle

 One of several motes surrounding Osaka Castle

Looking down to one of the moats from the top of the castle 

With this finished, we used up the rest of our Yen (not much) and headed for the airport for a flight back to Jeju.  We all agreed, it was a weekend well spent!

Jason and Jeb in front of Osaka Castle

View of Osaka from the top of the castle

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