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Osaka is the 2nd largest city in Japan, some 8.8 million in population. The city of Osaka is 1400 years old. Located on a web of rivers that exit in the Osaka Bay, it has long been an economic center and trading port since ancient ancient time. People in Osaka are said to be natural born businessmen (women). I don't know if that's true, but things seem to be a bit more expensive here in Osaka. Contrast to the slow and lay-back Kyoto, the city of Osaka appears to be crowded, fast-pace, and energetic.
These are pix taken in the city. The 1st one is the business park, then the next two pix are taken near the Osaka Historic Museum and NHK, the Japanese broadcast company. Then a monument for education, and the city museum. The last 3 pix are interesting artwork I found in the street.
The Osaka Castle. This is the place you cannot miss if you ever visit Osaka. Originally built in 1583, after Hideyoshi Toyotomi unified Japan, the Osaka Castle was intended to be the political center of Japan. Toyotomi forced the seigneur all over Japan to contribute to the construction by providing materials and labors. It took hundreds of thousand man 3 years to finish the project. The outer wall, which measures about 12 kilometer in perimeter, used about half million stone brick form all around Japan. Of course then Ieyasu Tokugawa took over Japan and the castle was torn down and rebuilt. The castle has witnessed numerous wars and natural disasters over the years, and was eventually rebuilt in 1931.
The castle was surrounded by a inner wall and a outer wall, both equipped with canals for defensive purpose. Recall in the Himeji Castle, the designer has to device a maze-like structure layout and set up a whole bunch of deadly traps. Here in Osaka, Toyotomi had the luxury to throw in hundred thousands of body to dig a couple deep and wide canals, and million tons of stone bricks to build two tall and sturdy walls. Simple and probably equally effective but of course much more expensive.
Underneath the castle. Compared the plainly white Himeiji Castle, the Osaka Castle certainly look more luxurious, with rich colors and gilded decorations all over the building. However, I have to say that doesn't make it more impressive than the Himeiji Castle.
Display inside the castle. The golden tiger and carp are actually covered with gold foil. The cannon was not really a weapon, but for firing a salute. In the last two pix are the reproduction of a warring scene, supposedly one of the battles in Toyotomi's unification of Japan. The craftsmanship of these inch-tall figures is impressive.
On the upper level of the castle, one can take a good look at the city of Osaka.
Osakako, or the Osaka Port. Osaka boast itself as the city on water. It's probably true if it's referring to the Osaka Port area, where several rivers gather and exit into the ocean. Numerous riverways or straits carve the land into many many islands, with bridges connecting them. The mermaid statue is a gift from Denmark, a 4/5 scale copy of the one in Copenhagen. The shiny building in the last pic is Suntory Museum. It has the one of largest IMAX screen in the world.
The Osaka Port has the tallest Ferris Wheel in the world (112.5 meters).
Kaiyukan, the Osaka Aquarium. One of the largest aquarium in the world. Near the entrance, all kinds of tropical finish caught my eyes. Suddenly a Devil Rays glided over my head.
Creatures in ocean's trench and Antarctica. Look at that evil troop of Spider Crabs... look like an invading alien just walked out of a Sci-fi movie. I would rather meet them on a dinner table -- they are delicious. In the last two pix are King Penguins. Don't be fooled by their clumsy appearance, they're great swimmers.
The most impressive display of all is the huge 5400-ton Pacific Ocean tank. The star here of course is this female Whale Shark named "Yu-Chan." She's 4.3 meter long and weights about 850 Kg. What a monster!
Other Pacific tank resident. I was amazed how are so many fishes of different species are kept together. I wonder how much work does it take to maintain such a big water tank, cleaning it up and satisfy different need of of so many fish.
Jellyfish displays, always my favorite.
Different kinds of scavengers.
Freshwater displays. The lovely little guy in the last two pix is a Otter.
Cicadas. These little creatures were bothering me during my whole trip in Japan. Early in the morning, maybe 4 or 5am, they start screaming. Thanks to the Jet lag, I've been faithfully answering their morning calls and wake up too early every morning. Here in Osaka, I finally got a chance to study them in detail. These inch-long insects laid their eggs in the bark of trees, and their larva would drop to the ground and feed by sucking juice from the roots of trees. Once mature, they rise from the ground and exuviate into the winged adult. See the deserted shell in the 3rd pic. With a needle-like mouthpiece, they're sucking the life out of every tree they can find. On the abdomen of male cicada they're two drum like membrane, which can vibrate to make a shrilling noise for sexual attraction and of course, for annoyance of human.
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