Osaka: Second City

AS I EAT breakfast in the restaurant of my hotel, I can look down on Osaka Castle. Sitting atop a massive mound whose walls rise dramatically from the dark green waters of its wide moat, the picturesque castle is already besieged by tour buses at this early hour. Later in the day, it will be overwhelmed by massive numbers of visitors, who will strip the shops of souvenirs and fill camera memory cards with pictures. Continue reading “Osaka: Second City”

Kagoshima: History in the air

AS A hairy 6ft 2in foreigner, you stand out anywhere you go in Japan – but perhaps nowhere more so than walking around the Chiran Peace Museum. Dedicated to the memory of some of the 1,400 kamikaze pilots who gave their lives for the Emperor at the end of World War II, the site is the former airbase from which Japanese army pilots flew most of the suicide sorties against the US fleet off Okinawa in 1944 and 1945.

Continue reading “Kagoshima: History in the air”

Osaka: Yen for life

WHAT struck me during my first visit to Japan was our similarities rather than our differences.

A small island, lying off the coast of a large continent which it has alternatively threatened or been threatened by during its history; a population that has developed an elaborate set of manners, much of it a legacy of feudalism, to cope with living cheek by jowl with the neighbours; a love of tweed and Argyle socks; and, of course, a universal adoration of David Beckham. Continue reading “Osaka: Yen for life”