What to see in/around Osaka?

I'll be in Osaka May 23-28 for my youngest son's wedding. While there will be very little time I would like to take in some of the scenery.
We have a short trip to Hiroshima planned, but are there any not-to- miss sites?Especially interested in 20th Century military stuff which I assume is a bit rare in Japan.Also wondering what kind of gift/gifts to bring for the bride's parents. I remember from having hosted Japanese exchange students that it is traditional to bring something. They also have two other children. Gifts for them?I'm particularly interested in finding some of the Tokyo Disneyland airliner models that I have seen (and have a couple), but Iheard that they were only at Tokyo International. Guess that I'll find out when I am there.Still looking for a trading partner in Japan.Cheers,Tom"Aim toward the Enemy." Instruction printed on US rocket Launcher and Claymore mines.
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snipped-for-privacy@netscape.com wrote:

Oh, you've got to see Admiral Togo's battleship, IJN Mikasa...you are already going to his shrine, and his flagship is the only surviving pre-dreadnought period battleship in the world. Steer clear of Yasukuni Shrine. It's the home of the souls of all the warriors who fell in defense of Japan, and American visitors are about as warmly greeted as Japanese visitors to the battleship Arizona memorial in Hawaii. The Japanese forts of the Shogunate period are considered spectacular and beautiful, particularly given the fact that they are mainly built of wood. Attending a "No" theater play is almost a necessity, as it's a glimpse into the distant past of Japanese theater and its very stylized history. It's all about subtlety of doing a rigidly proscribed performance of a character, like a gymnast performing a set series of acrobatics...in a attempt to do the character exactly as it should be done. You probably won't understand it, but I doubt most of the Japanese audience does either. It gives you bragging rights, like seeing Wagner's "Ring Cycle" at the Met, and wastes a hell of a lot less of your time. Go Japan! Same goes for a sumo match, easily the most pure and gentlemanly form of man-to-man combat that ever (with the possible exception of fencing) existed, yet very highly competitive. And if Kirishima is still there, give him a hurrah from me. Go Japan; go Kirishima! Japan is noted for many beautiful natural wonders, treasured more due the fact that wild areas in such a populous island are few and far between. The two keys to understanding the people and their country are _restraint_ and _subtlety_; keep your eyes and ears open, your voice soft, rare, and respectful, and notice the nuances of the behavior of those around you as to what to say and do and when... a lot of times a respectful nod and saying nothing will serve you far better than saying anything... particularly anything about WW II. Avoid that like the f***ing plague. Believe me, I know. You start talking about that...particularly if everyone's had a few drinks, and you are stumbling through a minefield. Avoid it entirely. On the other hand, the defeat of Kublai-Khan's attempted invasions and the Japanese triumph at the Battle Of The Tsushima Straits under Admiral Togo in 1905 might open a worthwhile route to getting a military discussion going...if you dare attempt it. Frankly, I don't think I'd even try it. Miyamoto Musashi, Japan's greatest swordsman, would be a better choice for a safe topic of discussion; if you play your cards right on that one, you might get invited to see Kendo practice and the history of Japanese sword making, as well as famous historical swords. (BTW.. if you do run into someone who _has_ a historical or modern-made top-notch Katana sword, don't ask them to take it all of the way out of the scabbard when they show it to you... if they want to take it out, they will. Normally they will just show you a few inches of the blade under the hand grip so you can admire the quality of the metalwork on the blade and the type of Hamon line down its edge... don't, DON'T, ask them to hand it to you, and if they do attempt to hand it to you, bow and kneel a bit before taking it from them, while resting it on your upturned and open palms in its scabbard... or, for Real Respect...your upturned lower upper arms just behind your hands, without grasping its handle, or attempting to take it out of its scabbard. Pull it slowly in close so you can examine it in detail, and then, bowing a bit again, hold it back out to them in the same way you accepted it from them, so they can take it back. The sword is not merely a weapon; it is a holy and living object, and it has a soul; treat it the way a rabbi would treat a Torah, or a priest a communion chalice.) With luck, your son has indicated your interest in military things to his bride, and her family will take it from their. They'll do a far better job at it than you could ever do, so take their advice and invitations to see things rather than suggesting destinations yourself. If they do want to take you to Yasukuni Shrine (I doubt they will) you are being offered a very great honor indeed, and you are also walking on eggshells... as are _they_ for taking you there. Be a fly on the wall if you don't want trouble. The holiness of that site in the Japanese psyche makes Arlington National Cemetery look like any old graveyard by comparison. For God's sake, don't suggest you want to go there to them, or you are really putting them on the spot, and they'll feel compelled to take you there. Best advice is to check with your son and his wife about everything in detail before suggesting anything. Particularly with your son, as his wife may be embarrassed to point out that you are making a faux-pas by suggesting something. If you suggest going somewhere, and her family says there's some reason they can't go there - due to weather, car trouble, something the kids need to do for school, etc. _drop the idea immediately_; what they are telling you is "no" in a very polite Japanese way, where saying "no" outright is considered very impolite. If there is a real problem of some sort, they'll either suggest a specific time when you could go there, or get around to it at their earliest convenient opportunity without you having to suggest it again. Me, I'd just keep my mouth shut the whole time, be very respectful, and let her family take the lead in where to go and what to do. :-) The model-building aspect might be very helpful though; model builders are a brotherhood worldwide - and if you can contact Japanese model builders who speak English and start discussing methods of putting wear on aircraft and mud on tanks, I'm pretty sure any ice will melt quickly indeed, and you might have trouble getting back to your in-laws in a timely manner, as the Japanese modelers might well start dragging you over to _their_ places to show their hospitality. I'll bet shooting the breeze with a bunch of Japanese modelers about the entire history of Tamiya tank models, or the Otaki 1/48th scale fighter planes from the 1960s with their rice paper instruction sheets - while sipping sake or downing Sapporo beers at a bar would be a ball, and something you'd remember the rest of your life. Especially when the live squid bar snacks arrived, swimming around in their little tank. (No, I'm not kidding - they deliver them live to office buildings for lunch. The key was squeezing the ink out of them before sending them out, so they wouldn't suffocate on it as they swam around on the way. You want some food that will really stick to your ribs, these things have around three hundred suction cups that they will surely attempt it with. Failing that, ask about the Curried Sea Cucumbers.) :-D One thing you might encounter is very detailed models and small-scale dioramas; as in Japan space for hobbies is always at a premium due the cost of housing, so you might run into only a few models of large scale or a larger number smaller ones, but ones that a great deal of time and effort have been lavished on.
Pat
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If you go to Hiroshima, go to Kure: there you will find a museum with a 1:10 scale model of the Yamato along with a host of fantastic 1:200 or so scale warships built in Kure during the Meiji, Taisho and Showa eras.
If you go to Tokyo, then of course as below:

Sorry, but that is rubbish. The Yasukuni shrine, much as one may disagree with it and its official government status (clothed as a private religious body until you examine it in detail), welcomes anyone who wants to pray or donate there---in fact I did that once about 8 years ago, Shinto ceremony and all. All those men were human after all, just like the rest of us. But if you are interested in paraphernalia, don't bother with the shrine, just go to the next-door Yasukuni museum newly built about 8 years ago, which houses some nice stuff, like a Zero (or was it a Judy?), Ooka, etc. Of course it is nationalistic so the English may make you laugh (or cry).

Indeed. If you are heading West from Osaka, stop by the only really authentic one left, at Himeji. Beautiful example of the light style of build. Most castles were destroyed either by order of the Meiji government, or during the Boshin War.

You could also try a Kabuki performance, and in Osaka you have access to some great Rakugo and Manzai comedy. Also don't forget to visit Osaka castle, Nijo castle in Kyoto, and the famous great Buddha in Nara... I spent 9 years in Kansai and after 1 year in Tokyo I wish I was back there...

Whew, expensive! Heh, if you are up in Tokyo, I could let you see my Bujutsu teacher, then you will have an idea of what real bujutsu is....
--
Gernot Hassenpflug

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