Saturday, 14 January 2017

Japan IV: Osaka

I arrived late in Osaka, to pouring rain. The train station was labyrinthine, and not the first time I got lost in one during my time in Japan. Without an umbrella, but with my trusty orange raincoat, I managed to navigate my way to the hostel.


This was the view I was greeted with, & the type of view I had expected more of. Shiny, wonderfully bizarre buildings - desperate to know their purpose.


A common theme throughout most of my trip, I didn't have much time in Osaka. I deeply regret not having more of a chance to explore; my best friend loves the city, & I am painfully aware of how little I saw.




Naturally, historical sites were top of my list, & I was especially keen to visit Osaka Castle when I saw it peeking out over the top of the walls.





I knew the moment I arrived that the Castle was going to present some interesting conservation philosophy questions. This tall lift shaft was perched at the corner of the towering castle, looking more than a little out of place. They very brilliantly had provided some interpretation to explain the rationale of the lift's location, which was meant to be a reflection of some over-head passageways from the Edo period. An ingenious way to balance history and accessibility, but I still wasn't convinced they'd managed to quite do the trick.


Perhaps this gnarly issue right at the start is what set me on edge, & despite this lovely ice cream after I'd been through the museum, I couldn't get the bitter taste out of my mouth. I had noticed over and over during my time in Japan the tendency towards reconstruction of historical monuments. Osaka Castle was no different, and whilst beautiful, it was almost too perfect. Unfortunately, the interior was a disaster. It had an awful beige fit out with terrible visitor circulation, but that was not its worst crime.


The artefacts. Oh dear, the "artefacts!" Almost everything within the museum was a facsimile. Nothing was original. Those things that were did not have sufficient explanation of their dates or contexts. There was not a scrap of authenticity, and I left feeling empty.

The view, however, was another story.






Osaka was my last city trip, and whilst I had issues with the Castle, I found the place to be wonderfully visually interesting, and I would dearly like more time to explore.

I headed back to Tokyo on the shinkansen to spend my last few days there; exploring, eating teppanyaki with my cousin; visiting the Snoopy museum. Despite the ups and downs of my trips, I felt extraordinarily privileged to be there. Japan was never top of my list to visit, but the generosity of my cousin made this unlikely trip possible - it was too good a chance to pass up.

I hope I get to go back one day, but if not...
Thank you, Japan.
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