The Famous Running Man of Osaka, Japan 🇯🇵
The million dollar question... why is the Osaka Glico running man so famous in Japan? No one actually has the answer, even though we were on walking tour with a local guide The neon Glico running man billboard located at Dotonbori is in it's sixth generation and dates back to 1935. Gilco is a confectionary company and has been running the advert in Osaka for the last 80 years and for some reason it has become iconic in Osaka. The light up of the Gilco running man takes place every night at 7pm. The billboard has gone through changes over the years to celebrate various sporting triumphs including Japan hosting the football World Cup and support for Hanshin tiger (Osaka's baseball team). The current Glico running man billboard is the first to utilise LED technology while its predecessors were all neon. The running is the logo and mascot for Glico and it thought to have derived from the company caramel candy which was their first product. The snack was created in 1922 as an energy product and noted that each treat could give someone extra energy to run 300m giving rise to the running man.
Osaka is the second largest city in Japan and has its very own unique charm. In some ways Osaka does remind me a wee bit of Manhattan island, New York, as Osaka is surrounded by waterways and has an island within the city. On this island you will find the city hall and lovely parks to spend the day in. Osaka is known for its multitude of bridges. Going around Osaka is easy but it does not offer many options in terms of travel passes. There is an unlimited daily travel pass which cost ¥800 during weekdays and ¥600 on the weekends. After calculating the cost of transportation and enterance fees to tourist attractions, we decided to go for the 2 days Osaka tourist pass which cost ¥3200. There is also an option of a one day pass that cost ¥2400. The pass included entry to various tourist attractions as well as transportation and gives you discounts for food and shopping outlets. ¥3200 may seem alot but within the first day of use we had already got our money's worth and whatever we chose to do on the second day was a bonus.
One might say that it's a lot to do in one day to make back the cost of the ticket. In truth we did do a lot but we did find that we were not rushing from one one place to the other. I won't deny that it does take a bit of planning but we got it down to a tee. Here is a list of attractions we covered on the first day: Tsutenkaku (Osaka tower); Shitennoji Temple; Osaka Castle; Osaka Castle museum; Osaka peace museum; Nishinomaru garden; Hep Five ferries wheel; virtual white water ride; Sky building observatory and the Nakanoshima night river cruise. From the above list most of the attractions did not take long to visit. We spend most of the day at Osaka castle and its surrounding grounds. Within The building of Osaka castle houses a museum spending eight floors. There is an elevator but the queue was really long. We decided to take the stairs and headed to the eighth floor before working our way down. The museum depicted the history of the castle. Osaka castle is one of Japan's famous landmarks and the castle played a significant role in the unification of Japan in the sixteenth century. The construction of the castle took place in 1583 under orders of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Toyotomi Hideyoshi was a commoner who rose up through the ranks while serving under his liege lord, Oda Nobunaga. He than succeeded his former liege lord and brought an end to the civil war. The castle was fully completed in 1597 but Toyotomi Hideyoshi passed away the following year. The current castle has gone through major restoration works due to damages incurred during the Second World War which was only completed in 1997.
On the second day we covered the following attractions: Tempozan Ferris wheel, the Sakura river cruise and the the Dotonbori night walk tour. We would also like to have gone to Legoland discovery centre but found that adults were only allowed entry with an accompanied child. We could have done more but decided not to as we wanted to remain in the Dotonbori area. From the night tour, we found out many interesting facts about Osaka. It was really interesting to find out that Osaka has its own dialect and Osakans are very proud of it. The dialect is known as Osaka-ben, you might know that arigato is Japanese for thank you, but Osakans will say Ookini. Osaka has many delicacies but one of these is something you should eat at your own risk and is known as fugu tessa. It is sashimi of the fugu fish, chefs need to be specially certified to prepare the fish as the poison of the fugu fish can stop a person's heart and it is odourless and colourless. I'll leave it to you to decide if we tried the dish.