The fifth day of our trip was rather free and easy. With the long train rides that we had taken from a few days ago, Stan and I were physically exhausted. We started our day at mid-morning, had lunch and did a little shopping around Dotonburi. I bought some cosmetics from the drugstore and Stan managed to play a couple of new arcade games.
Saving the best for last, we decided to pay Osaka castle a little visit before heading to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. Osaka Castle is usually more lively during the warmer months and festival seasons with the street vendors selling food items along the castle grounds. Since it was winter, the castle grounds was very empty and quiet, without a sign of any vendors or crowd.
The interior of the castle has various displays of miniature figurines, samurai gears, artefacts and relics to depict and illustrate the rich history behind the castle and its inhabitants. There were also these pretty cool Star Wars-esque holograms, which were divided into several segments to describe the making of the castle. To be honest, the tour started out fairly interesting but it got a little boring since neither of us had the patience to read the entire historic descriptions placed next to their displays.
After heading up a few flight of stairs, we arrived at the observation deck. So was the view worth it the amount of huffs and puffs? I’d say… not bad. It was neither overwhelming nor underwhelming. I reckoned the lack of enthusiasm came from my anticipation of a visit to the aquarium later in the day. I just could not wait to see the whale sharks and other sea creatures! In order to get a full view, visitors have to walk around the deck.
We ended our tour with a reward of soft serves. Winter might not bring as much attraction compared to other seasons, but the less lively, quiet atmosphere does have its own charm. Trust me, there are days when you just lack the tolerance to be caught in a crowd, filled with screaming kids, neglecting parents, obnoxious tourists and grumpy old folks.
When we reached the aquarium, we were greeted with this spectacular iridescent light display that changed from blue to warm orange. As it was the weekday, the aquarium was less crowded and we got to see all the animals and sea creatures at full view.
Stan took a lot of pictures but since the interiors were dimly lit, most of the pictures ended up grainy. When there are fewer visitors, aquariums tend to have a more calm and soothing vibe to it as you watch the various marine lives glide past. At the center of the building, is a large tank, which consists of bigger marine creatures and its main attraction, the whale shark. Visitors get to view the large tank from all angles as they descend from the top to the bottom floor of the building. On the other hand, I did find some of the designated areas a tad too small for the amount of creatures held. The aquarium is still worth a visit especially for me since the only aquarium I have been to was Singapore’s Underwater World as a child. On a side note, it was extremely entertaining for me to watch a derp faced seal bobbing up and down on the water surface.
After the tour, we stopped by the souvenir store. To our excitement, some of the souvenirs were Christmas themed. I bought a fridge magnet with a whale shark wearing a Santa hat, surrounded by his other marine friends. Before heading off to our hotel, we made a quick stop at the Habour Village, which is a shopping centre near the aquarium. The interiors were pretty dated and judging from the food court and the items sold at the shops, the shopping centre caters more towards tourists. The only busy spot was the McDonald stall at the food court, where Stan and I grabbed a quick bite before ending our day with a ride on a lonely looking ferris wheel. And that’s all folks! If you’d like to see more of the aquarium, Stan has mashed up some of the clips he had taken with his camera. Enjoy!