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Archive for the ‘Osaka’ Category

Photo #11 – Osaka, Tokyo, Baseball, Soccer, Meiji Era, & WW2

Osaka Dome Baseball Stadium

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


This snapshot of the Osaka Dome baseball stadium that I happened to grab by chance as the Haruka Express Train whizzed by is a good example of the hazards of shooting through glass. That dark shadowy orb on the right side of this photograph is my big fat head.

Not a great photo, but I wanted to include it to share how the Haruka Express does offer the chance to see some of the sights of Osaka as you pass through on your way to Kyoto from Osaka’s Kansai International Airport.

Like Tokyo, Osaka is known for having a limited number of distinctive sightseeing opportunities. We have to give points whenever we can when passing through the metal/glass/concrete monstrous grids that sprouted up in Japan in place of the cities that were flattened during WW2, just a few decades ago.

It isn’t that Japan didn’t want to preserve some elements of their architectural culture in Tokyo and Osaka, the problem is that there simply wasn’t much left to preserve in those cities after the firebombings of WW2.

Even Osaka’s one famous sightseeing destination, Osaka Castle, is a recreation. Actually, a recreation of a recreation. WW2 bombings damaged the 1928 recreation of the castle which has an ongoing 400+ year history at that site.

Though Tokyo also has only 1 historically significant and magnificent sightseeing destination, Sensoji, a grand temple in Asakusa, at least it’s authentic.

I’m interested in seeing the giant concrete and rebar Osaka Castle at some point during this visit to Japan. Even if they don’t accurately portray the interiors of the originals, Japanese castle recreations often have very nice museums inside.

On the subject of baseball stadiums, did you know that baseball is the #1 sport in Japan? I was in Korea and Japan around and during the 2002 Soccer World Cup (not because of the World Cup) when it was jointly hosted by Japan and South Korea, and I perceived the Japanese (and South Koreans) to be quite enthusiastic about soccer as the majority of the world outside the US seems to be. It’s interesting how the Japanese adopted an American sport as their favorite, instead of soccer. Further evidence, I guess, of the ongoing and increasing cultural impact the US is having on Japan.

It’s ironic that Japan’s political aggression and attempts to dominate Asia and become omnipotent in the region, actually resulted in the country being redirected into a facsimile of the US in many ways, albeit stripped of any significant military might for generations to come. But I suppose the migration to western culture had already been set firmly in motion by the Meiji Restoration, and Japan’s failure in WW2 merely helped add a little more US flavor to Japan’s westernization.

(Are those enough tangents for one journal entry, or shall I add some more? :-) )

I will confess I had to do a little research to find out this was the Osaka Dome baseball stadium. I’m not sure I even knew there was an Osaka Dome baseball stadium before taking this photo by accident as the Haruka Express raced through Osaka. The coloring and overall design makes me think there should be a big swimming pool or maybe a water park inside the Osaka Dome.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #9 – Japanese Typhoon on the Way

A storm approaches Osaka during Japan's typhoon season.

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


It’s Typhoon Season in Japan and sure enough a typhoon was passing through Okinawa and Kyushu working its way up to the main island of Honshu in time for my arrival.

I already knew Kyoto, my current destination, was surrounded by small mountains, but even after many hours of studying the terrain of the Kansai region on Google Earth, I was still a little surprised to see how hilly it is around Osaka. The terrain to the east, as the Haruka Express makes it off the Kansai International Airport’s artificial island, is not too unlike the foothills at the base of the Rocky Mountains in my home state of Colorado.

Photo Details: Despite the ominous storm clouds brewing in this photo shot from the JR Haruka Express Train on the outskirts of Osaka, nearby Kyoto was not severely affected by the passing storm.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Normally, you’ll find maps just below all the photo entries here showing the precise spot where each photo was taken. I still had some data in my geotagging device after my first experimentation with it in the Gunnison Gorge in Colorado just before leaving for Japan, and I didn’t have time to figure out how to get it in my computer before this trip so I could reset the device.
[It turned out to be a very complicated Rube Goldberg-esque procedure.]
For photos #8, #9, and #10, I’m just tagging Osaka with different levels of zoom and different types of maps, since that is the area I was passing through on the train when these 3 photos were taken.

To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #8 – Inside the Haruka Express, Osaka to Kyoto

Inside the Haruka Express Train on the way to Kyoto

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


Though maybe not quite matching Shinkansen comfort levels, the Haruka Express Train between Kansai International Airport and Kyoto is certainly comfortable enough and is the fastest train between those 2 points.

The trains used for the Haruka service lack the Shinkansen’s high-speed tilt mechanism that helps negate centrifugal force on curves, but traveling on local tracks the Haruka never picks up enough speed to need it. The Haruka run into Kyoto from the Osaka area’s Kansai International Airport takes about an hour and 15 minutes.

Photo Details: I was able to comfortably walk around the train during the entire journey. This is a regular seat car, but there is no difference in the reserved seat cars which I walked through as well. There seems to be no need to pay the 500 yen premium to get a reserved seat. You will be no better off and no more comfortable during the ride.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Normally, you’ll find maps just below all the photo entries here showing the precise spot where each photo was taken. I still had some data in my geotagging device after my first experimentation with it in the Gunnison Gorge in Colorado just before leaving for Japan, and I didn’t have time to figure out how to get it in my computer before this trip so I could reset the device.
[It turned out to be a very complicated Rube Goldberg-esque procedure.]
For photos #8, #9, and #10, I’m just tagging Osaka with different levels of zoom and different types of maps, since that is the area I was passing through on the train when these 3 photos were taken.

To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #7 – Young Gaijin Discovers Japanese Vending Machines

Young gaijin discovers Japanese vending machines at the JR Kansai Airport Train Station.

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


For your departure from Kansai International Airport, if you choose to board the Haruka Express Train to Kyoto, you will enter at the overhead crosswalk level seen in Photo #5 and then descend to this platform after buying your ticket just inside the entrance of the JR Kansai Airport Station (Photo #6).

A streamlined bank of vending machines beckons with its glow on the dimly lit train platform, giving you a hint of the Japanese vending machine culture that will be experienced throughout your visit.

Photo Details: This image was snapped through the window of the Haruka Express Train, moments before rolling out of the Kansai Airport Station and onto the bridge that connects the airport’s small man-made island to Honshu, Japan’s main island. I suspect this young man has arrived in Japan for his first journey into the land of readily available vending machines. I’m sure many grand adventures are in store for him.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #6 – Haruka Express Train to Kyoto from Kansai Airport

JR's Kansai Airport Train Station

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


Instead of taking the Haruka Express Train to Kyoto, I was considering saving a few hundred yen without sacrificing too much time by taking a slightly cheaper 2 train option that would route me into Shin-Osaka Station first. I was interested in getting my first peek at one of Osaka’s main train stations, since I’m sure I’ll spend some time in Osaka on this trip.

However, the thought of wandering around in a giant train station in Osaka with nearly 200 pounds of luggage in tow was not very appealing. Also, regular trains do not have a place at the end of their cars to stow large luggage items like the Haruka Express has. Ultimately, time was the biggest factor; Immigration held me up with a long line upon arrival in Kansai. I didn’t want to keep my friend Hiro waiting in Kyoto, so it was an easy choice to hop on the convenient Haruka Express Train for a relaxing ride into Kyoto.

At 73 minutes, the travel time from Kansai Airport to Kyoto is similar to the travel time from Narita Airport to Tokyo.

Photo Details: Difficult to miss, the JR terminal is connected to and right across the street from the Kansai International Airport Terminal (KIX). The green machines in this photo and seen on the right as you enter the station can be used to purchase tickets for the Haruka Express Train to Kyoto.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

Photo #5 – JR Kansai International Airport Train Station (Osaka)

Osaka's Kansai International Airport (KIX). Looking from the airport terminal across to the adjacent JR train station.

This photo corresponds with Episode 2 of the Savage Japan Podcast. Episode 2 can be heard here at SavageJapan.com or here at SavageSnowPodcast.com.


The JR Kansai Airport Train Station is immediately adjacent to the KIX airport terminal and can be seen here across the road as you exit the terminal.

Osaka’s Kansai Airport is quite a jaunt outside of central Osaka and unfortunately, on the far side from Kyoto. The Haruka Express train takes 73 minutes from this station to the main Kyoto station.

However, Osaka’s city center is relatively close to Kyoto and to get from Kyoto to Osaka only takes about 30 minutes on regular trains.

Japan Photo Journal – Living in Japan
Dan Savage [Email]

Grab anywhere on map to scroll around precise spot where above photo was taken. Zoom in & out with buttons in left corner. To learn more about geotagging your own photos, visit LearningtoGeotag.com.

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