Japan: Osaka Part II

Osaka has loads to offer, it’s well known for the various sporting events and festivals on top of the common travel sites like in my previous Osaka post. I saw and did a lot during my time here. On top of visiting the common travel sites I was always open to trying out new activities. A few other places worth visiting that didn’t quite make my Osaka post are: Umeda Sky Building, Osaka and Umeda Station, Yodobashi Camera, the Ramen Factory and Eat Osaka!. These places are totally worth checking out if you find yourself in Osaka and have some extra time on your hands.

Osaka Castle

Castles in Japan are many and after seeing a few your favorite one will stand out. My favorite castle is the Himeji Castle, check out my write up here: Himeji Castle Trip , but my runner up is the Osaka Castle. The surrounding area is pretty nice and many popular events are held in this vast park. Marathons include this area and beer festivals are held here for example. I visited the Osaka Castle on several occasions and each time I saw something new.

Hanshin Tigers

Once known as the Osaka Tigers, the Hanshin Tigers are a professional baseball league based out of Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture but they represent the entire Kansai region. Baseball is a very popular sport in Japan. I had an awesome time watching the game and experienced something quite unique surrounded by some excited locals. There are several traditions that are kept active.

One important and old tradition that is still kept up with is the Curse of the Colonel. Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken has been made infamous as his statue was thrown into the Dotonbori Canal in 1985 after a Japanese Series victory by the Hanshin Tigers. The Colonel Sanders Statue was thrown into the canal to celebrate that series victory, since no one resembled the non-Japanese baseball player, first baseman Randy Bass, the Colonel Statue was chosen to take his place as he was the next best thing at the time. The curse took form as the Tigers went many streaks of series loses, and now the curse has to be broken by throwing Colonel into the canal and rescuing him from his doom after a series victory. The tigers went 18 seasons with no victories. During the Baseball season many KFC stores in Kobe and Osaka hide their Colonel Sanders statue inside to keep away from baseball fans.

During the latter part of baseball games, fans release hundreds of air-filed balloons while singing the Tiger’s fight song. The many balloons are propelled into the air by simply releasing them. This is one tradition everyone takes part in. This tradition is done at every home game and at nearly all away games.

To finish things up nicely many fans typically gather underneath the lit-up bridge next to the Koshien Stadium to sing and chant the Tigers’ fight song after a game victory.

I felt very fortunate to attend a baseball game in Japan. It was an awesome experience. Though baseball is an American sport, it is fully embraced in Japan and totally worth checking out. Don’t pass up the chance to attend.

Gamba Osaka

Gamba Osaka is a professional soccer league based out of Osaka. The stadium is in Suita, Osaka, home to Expo Park. Soccer isn’t as electrifying as baseball is in Japan but it is still a very fun experience. I was invited to the game by a good friend that scored some really good front row seats. The entire experience was good, we revolved the entire day around Japanese and English lessons which added a lot more flare to this already enjoyable day. One thing I noted and got a kick out of was the parking lot. Before Japan I had never seen anything like it. The parking lot was filled with only bicycles! I thought it was an awesome sight. I really wanted to stay behind and watch everyone claim their bikes back and ride off but alas my friend and I had plans to spend some time at Expo Park and had to go.

Danjiri Festival

I experienced several festivals while in Japan and though most of them revolve around some belief or activity, each one is unique in its own way. This one in particular is the Danjiri Matsuri (Danjiri Festival), perhaps the most famous festival which involves boys and men pulling wooden carts around the city streets. The wooden carts are crafted to be in the shape of a shrine or temple. The carts are adorned with flowers, prayer cards and other religious ornaments. The men that ride up on the carts control the carts direction. It’s a wild event that feels as if it’s going to end in an accident as there are many carts going around in circles with many participants in danger of being trampled yet it is entertaining to watch! My co-worker invited me to attend as he was going to participate in this tradition, I couldn’t pass up the chance and I gladly accepted and attended.

There are many festivals that take place each month in Japan. If you keep your ear close to the ground you will definitely hear of a unique one. Don’t pass up your chance, festivals are always culturally enriching and entertaining plus they are a good place to find good and cheap street food.

Osaka is awesome. I’d love to go back some day. There is so much to see, do and eat in this warm and friendly metropolis. Osaka really has something to offer all its guests and acts as a nice hub for getting around the Kansai area. I traveled to various parts of Japan via Osaka. Most of the trips I went on while in Japan were one day trips thanks to living here. I experienced much more but these were some of the highlights during my time here. Don’t skip out on Osaka, you’ll regret it. Happy Travels!

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