The morning after my all-day cooking marathon, I decided to check out Osaka Castle, which was previously closed for the New Year holiday the last time I was there in December. I started by strolling around the castle park looking for cherry blossoms, then made my way past numerous food vendors onto the castle grounds. Like the other Japanese castles I've been to (Komaki, Nagoya, Inuyama, Hiroshima), the outside is more interesting than the inside, unless you're into samurai armor, swords, and artifacts. I also checked out a small shrine near the temple before deciding to skip the history museum in favor of visiting Shitennoji Temple.
Shitennoji was Japan's first state-established Buddhist temple in the 6th century. The temple grounds were beautiful, and numerous cherry blossoms were in bloom. There was also a turtle pond and a gorgeous Japanese garden, which I stumbled upon by accident. I ended up spending over an hour wandering the mossy paths and admiring the many cherry blossoms in bloom before finished up my day in Namba at the Takashimaya, and finally Doguyasuji ("Kitchen Street"). I'd been looking for chawanmushi cups (which I found, in varying degrees of mismatch and age), but decided that I had no practical way to get them home. I went back to Amor Pantry in Shin-Osaka station and picked up a single-serve chocolate-hazelnut gelato courtesy of Ciao Bella, along with some British ginger-lime jam and several mini French cheeses.