Spring in Japan- days 8 and 9

Day 8 was spent shopping in and around Osaka. We visited Shinsaibashi and picked up a few presents, had lunch in Dotonburi then continued with the shopping in Namba Parks before finding a lovely little bar near BIC Camera (where I treated myself to a new LED light for portraits back home – watch this space for details of this new service when I get back!)

We spent an hour or so watching the world go by from the bar before heading out on the 15 minute walk back to the appartment.

Day 9 started early as we prepared to set off on the trip out to Wakayama prefecture and the mountain temples and cemeteries of Koyasan.

It’s usually a fairly straight forward trip to Koyasan; train to Hashimoto, change for train to Gokurakubashi then cable car up the last 1500ft to Koyasan.

Recently though a typhoon caused damage to parts of the line and the route was closed for a while – it only reopened 3 days ago – so there are still disruptions to several of the services; it’s a tribute to Japanese efficiency that despite these disruptions, and several more train changes than would normally be required, we still arrived in Koyasan on time and feeling like the trip went hassle free and according to plan.

Koyasan is another of the locations I’ve visited in all four seasons now and yet again it didn’t disappoint.

Okunoin, a cemetery with over 200,000 tombs doesn’t have very many cherry blossom trees, but it didn’t really matter as it was obvious from the train journey that the few blossom trees they did have had almost completely lost their blooms, proof of just how brief the blossom season is and just how lucky we’ve been to catch it at all!

Everytime I visit Koyasan I find areas I’ve never noticed before and today was no different. The forest seemed to be filled with incense smoke today as we wandered aimlessly along the paths which fan out from the main pilgrims path beneath giant Japanese cedar trees, some of which are nearly 200ft tall.

After the walk through Okunoin we went shopping for a while before boarding the bus for the short trip back to the Koyasan cable car and the trip back down off the mountain.

When we arrived at Gokurakubashi we had a choice of routes back to Osaka: local train back to Hashimoto or limited express straight to Osaka Namba. The limited express required an additional upgrade payment and as we were in no great hurry we opted for the local train, but as it pulled into the station at Hashimoto it became clear that, due to the schedule changes, we faced either a 40 minute wait for the connecting train, or just 5 minutes if we upgraded and caught the express. That was an easy choice! Upgraded and reserved seat tickets in hand we travelled in style back to Osaka, pulling into the station not long after we’d have just boarded the regular service at Hashimoto had we waited..

The evening was spent in Namba eating and having a few beers in one of our favourite bars before walking back to the appartment just after midnight through the still busy streets of Namba.

We’re at Universal studios tomorrow so not sure if I’ll blog about that… There’s only so many ways you can describe 2hr queues, over priced plastic toys and hotdogs! (or long meat buns as I saw some described earlier in the week!)

I’ll also try to capture a few images of the fading blossoms before they’re gone completely. They have almost all fallen now and trees which were pink and white just a week ago are bare with only the light green shoots of new growth to show for what was a spectacular few days. There is a strong wind forecast for tomorrow so it’s very possible that this will strip the last of the petals from the trees and we will have experienced the entire blossom cycle by the time we depart again late on day 12.

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