QUINTESSENTIAL SPRINGTIME SIGHTS AND BEYOND
From Osaka's historic sites to the banks of its many waterways, the metropolis is home to an array of cherry blossom-viewing spots unique to the city, as well as cultural activities for young and old alike.
Osaka Castle Park
One of the city's most iconic cherry blossom viewing spots is Osaka Castle Park where some 3,000 cherry trees are planted across 105.6 hectares (about the size of 105 rugby fields).
Of the seven train stations that bring visitors to within walking distance of the park, Osaka Business Park Station, Tanimachi Yonchome Station, Tenmabashi Station and Morinomiya Station are covered by the Osaka Amazing Pass. This pass allows unlimited rides for one or two days (depending on the type chosen) on the Osaka Metro subway, some private railways and buses, as well as free or discounted admission to many sightseeing spots.
This includes free entrance to the castle's tenshukaku (main tower) boasting a magnificent view of the park and urban landscape behind it. West of the tower in Nishinomaru Garden, 300-odd cherry trees are illuminated from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. (last admission is at 8:30 p.m.) until April 14. Garden admission (¥200 per adult) is free for Osaka Amazing Pass holders. Over by the Tamatsukuri-guchi entrance in the southeastern corner of the park, late-blooming, double-flowered cherry trees make for a pleasant stroll even after the most popular Somei-Yoshino cherry blossoms have begun to fall.
Sakura cruises on waterways
Okawa River Sakura Cruise (¥1,200 per adult) can also be enjoyed for free with the Osaka Amazing Pass; the boat sets off from the Hachiken-yahama Pier near Tenmabashi Station. Until mid-April, passengers will be able to see the fleeting blossoms of around 4,800 cherry trees during the 25-minute cruise. The ship also travels under three unique bridges — the 87-year-old Sakuranomiya Bridge, Kawasaki Bridge limited to pedestrians and bikers and the two-story Tenmabashi Bridge. Osaka Castle can also be seen during the cruise.
Other options comprise several types of river buses that traverse different routes. One is the Aqua-Liner, a 55-minute ride for the seasonal price of ¥2,000 per adult (¥1,800 using the Osaka Amazing Pass) that departs from the same pier as the cruise ship. The Aqua-Liner also stops at three other piers — Osakajo Pier, Yodoyabashi Pier and OAP Pier.
Nature and heritage
The city of Kawachinagano is located on the southeastern border of Osaka Prefecture, facing Nara Prefecture to the east and Wakayama Prefecture to the south. Although Kawachinagano Station is only 45 minutes from Osaka Station, the city's landscape and surroundings are bursting with verdant scenery. Best experienced by bike, there are several bike rental shops in the city, including Nigiwai Plaza near Kawachinagano Station and Kuromaro Village, which is 20 minutes from the station by bus.
The area also has a number of cultural assets on display for only a brief time. The historical Amanosan Kongoji Temple is 23 minutes by bus from Kawachinagano Station and houses 37 items designated Important Cultural Properties and four National Treasures. Kondo Sanzon (three Buddha statues in the main hall) are among those treasures and will be open to the public exclusively between April 14 and 18, and the Jitsugetsu Sansui-zu (sun and moon landscape) folding screen between May 3 and 5.
At Kanshinji Temple, 12 minutes from Kawachinagano Station by bus, another National Treasure will be showcased at the temple with a history spanning over 1,300 years. Nyoirin Kannon Zazo, a Buddhist statue of a deity in a seated position, will be on display to the public on April 17 and 18.
Kawachinagano is also on the way to Mount Koya — a holy site of Japanese Buddhism — and is an ideal stop for history buffs on their way to the mountain.
https://osaka-info.jp/en/page/do-fun-osaka-kuromaro (Kuromaro Village)
https://www.city.kawachinagano.lg.jp/uploaded/attachment/2334.pdf (Okukawachi Cycling Guide & Map in Japanese)
https://amanosan-kongoji.jp/ (Amanosan Kongoji Temple)
http://www.kanshinji.com/images/kanshinji-english1.pdf (Kanshinji Temple in English)
http://www.kanshinji.com/ (Kanshinji Temple in Japanese)
East of Osaka in the city of Daito, Active Square Daito will offer a sumo program on weekdays in its newly installed dohyō (sumo ring) from mid-April. In addition to this unique experience, the facility has its own unique flair as an elementary school-turned activity and lodging space.
The venue is five minutes on foot from Nozaki Station on the Gakkentoshi Line. The two-hour program includes watching a sumo practice, participating in a sumo lesson and making chankonabe, a hot pot dish often eaten by wrestlers.
Reservations for groups of three to 10 are accepted. It is ¥8,800 for adults and ¥7,700 for children aged 5 to junior high school students. A ¥3,000 discount is available for both adults and children who don't wish to participate in the lesson.