Friday, February 23, 2018

Our Second Week in Osaka - a Hike to Minoo Falls and Another Zoo!

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We spent the second week of our Osaka residency ticking off "must-dos" from the list.  The hiigh the first few days was a special trip out of the city and up to Nara National Park.  The tame deer and the shrines, temples, museums, and gardens filled our day.

Here's a link to that post in case you missed it:  Visit to Nara National Park

Getting our China Visa was on the list as well and that proved to be a bit of a challenge.  We visited Turkey in 2012 and they weren't real happy about seeing that stamp in our passports.  We had to fill out an extra form and answer several questions, return again and then wait.  Thankfully after five days the red tape, our visas were issued.  Now the next challenge awaits as we begin the process for obtaining our Tibet permits.  That will take a few months and we started it today.

We had a couple of down days where we simply took long walks.  A visit to the local doctor happened with good results.  We ventured over to the Osaka Station area and toured the shopping arcades and a nine story amusement tower.  10,000 sq. ft. on each floor with nothing but arcades and video games on three floors, two floors of retail, three floors of bowling, and a top floor that was VIP so who knows what was going on up there.

We enjoyed a full day at home just laying around watching TV and I started an art project.  It was nice to slow down for awhile and just chill out.  There was this mesmeriaing red bridge at Nana that captured my it is the subject of my new project.

We planned a whole day visting Minoo Park to see the waterfall and walk the trails.  It was a great day starting with a train ride into the mountains followed by a three miles hike up to the waterfall itself.  There we discovered some Japanese Macaques enjoying the sunny day along with the visitors.  The Hankyu Line is a bit retro with green velvet upholstery and walnut paneled walls.

From the train station it was a long hike up into the mountains in the distance.
Like walking through a postcard with the river below and the path beautifully liked with railings and quaint houses and hotels.

A long series of stone steps for about a mile uphill brought us to the falls.  Now that we are in the drier season, there was only a small amount of was still lovely.
Macaques were in the trees viewing the tourists.

We took an alternative trail back down and into town.

There was a lovely shrine along the way and we visited for a bit.

We went to pick up our China visas and passports and included a visit to the Tenojii Zoo.  This zoo was started in 1897 and is one of the oldest in Japan.  It was nicely kept and the enclosures were larger.  The animals were appeared well cared for and there were lots of school groups.   It was a beautiful sunny day.
 There Caribbean flamingos were brilliant.
 The Bactrian seemed a bit lonely.
 There was a magnificent collection of Asian cranes...some twenty species.
 A beautiful black rhino herd.
 A nice sized enclosure for the African collection.
 A southeast Asian "leopard cat."
 This totally awesome jaguar.
 Emperor penguins.
Sadly the Asian elephant passed on January 28th.  She was 63 years of age.
 There were huge flower displays and visitors paying respect to the magnificent creature.  Wow, a funeral and public attendance of this magnitude.  What great respect for nature these kind people have!
Hundreds of grammar school groups, each with the own individual cap colors.
 Some outrageous fake food displays...look at the size of the plates in the second photo.  Each is a 15" platter of food for about $15 apiece.

 There was an arcade and gaming area outside of the zoo.  These store fronts caught our eye.

Our last two weeks will be all about KYOTO!  Stay tuned in.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Nara Park in Osaka

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Thirty minutes by train from the city center is the suburb of Nara and its massive historical park.  The area is about the size of Central Park in NYC and it was busy on a Sunday.  The park has five major shrines and temples, as well as, thousands of tame deer.  I'm not sure what was the primary interest for most of the folks...the historical aspects or the deer.  There are wild, but tame and certainly don't have a problem getting a free handout of cookies being sold by vendors all over the park.  Their antlers have been removed and the stumped cauterized so there is some control being enforced.  Other than that they were everywhere.

The shrines were beautiful.  You can see I am having fun with my new photo-enhancing program.

 This Buddha statue was easily 30 feet tall.

 The park is also home to the Nara National Treasures Collection.  It is housed in a 19th century western styled building.
 No photos were allowed.  I broke a few rules and got a few more from the web.

In a vault was a collection of bronze vessels from 11 BC to 1 BC.   The door to the vault alone was impressive.  I'm not usually interested with bronze but this collection was magnificent.