Saturday, February 19, 2011

Japan Part 4: Osaka

The red circle is us.

The day after the Kyoto trip, we hopped on the train again – this time for only about 20 minutes – to visit Kobe’s neighbor, Osaka. Believe it or not, Osaka was also the capital once, a heck of a long time ago, even before Kyoto was. We’re talking around the 7th century here. At that time, it was called “Naniwa-kyo,” and was considered a vital seaport for trade, especially with Korea and China.

Yes, as you may be able to tell, we had a very historical day in Osaka, starting with a visit to the infamous Osaka Castle. It was the home of Mr. Toyotomi Hideyoshi, warrior and lord, who unified Japan in the sixteenth century. This is also the crazy guy who had the solid-gold portable tea room built, so that he could have tea in style, anywhere, anytime. Umm, and he might have invaded Korea a couple of times. And killed those Twenty-Six Martyrs in Nagasaki (Christian missionaries and laypeople of various origins) that I didn’t mention when I wrote part 2.

Since the castle got burned down once (or twice), the present-day Osaka Castle is a careful reconstruction of the original. Osaka CastleHowever, we were unable to enjoy the gorgeous insides, unlike we could in Kyoto’s Nijo Castle. The inside has been reborn as a museum, which explains the history of the castle in (excruciating) detail. We followed that up with a trip to the Osaka Museum of History, where we strolled through the eras of Japanese history and glimpsed the many different faces that Osaka wore over the years. And we got to role-play a little, putting on the traditional Japanese kimono, before relaxing downtown and getting some ice cream.

And on the last day of our trip (if I may be allowed to skip ahead a little here), we visited a significant mission site of the P.C. (USA) – the Yodogawa Christian Hospital. We were welcomed to the hospital by some very nice people (they put up “Welcome YAVs” signs in all the hospital hallways!) and got to tour their facilities. Afterwards, we had our own private worship in one of their chapels, with our own private minister, Rev. Choi, presiding. This before being treated to a lovely sushi box lunch (obentou in Japanese; some of you may be familiar with it).

At the Museum of History This hospital focuses on “whole-person healing” and the idea that both the body and soul of a sick person need care and nourishment. They are currently ranked number one in the nation out of all private hospitals. Because they are a Christian organization, a large percentage of the staff (13%) is Christian, although the patients are 99% not Christian (a reflection of the general populace). Nonetheless, patients give an overwhelmingly positive response to the hospital chaplains who visit them to pray with/for them. Every morning, they hold worship, which is available on TVs in every patient room. They also have a lunch-hour broadcast for those interested in tuning in. In fact, they just have so much going on and my descriptions really can’t do it justice, so if you want to know more, you can look at their website here.

Click here for more pictures of Osaka. Part 5 to come soon; the topic: Tokyo.

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