Highlights of Osaka
Duration: 4 1/2 hours
Tour Code: KBE-004
Explore Japan's third largest city, Osaka, on this intriguing half-day tour.
One of the gateways to ancient Japan for traders from China, Korea and the Asian continent, Osaka played a vital role in the introduction of new technologies in ceramics, forging, construction, and engineering. Today, this modern port city combines historical and cultural attractions with all the delights of a Japanese urban marvel. Following a 90-minute panoramic drive from Kobe to Osaka, you will visit the impressive landmark, Osaka Castle. One of Japan's most famous castles, it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the 16th century. Built on a plot of land almost one mile square, the castle compound contains thirteen structures, designated as Important Cultural Assets by the Japanese government. The central castle building is five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside, built atop a massive stone foundation that protected its occupants from sword-bearing attackers. Of particular interest are the tower's ornamental roof tiles shaped like a mythical ocean fish, and bas-reliefs carved in the shape of crouching tigers, all gilded with gold.
An engaging museum occupies the interior of the building, tracing the history of the castle from the late 1500s to the present day, and housing Osaka's most significant historical and cultural artifacts. After a guided tour of the castle, you will next proceed to Japan's oldest Buddhist temple in Japan, Shitennoji. Built in the late sixth century by Prince Shotoku, the temple grounds contain a five-storey pagoda and a treasure house containing ornate mandalas and several massive wooden Buddha statues. Despite repeated reconstructions, the layout of the temple compound remains largely unchanged from its beginnings. Return to Kobe and the ship following your tour of the temple.