日本での一年間

May 25, 2011

The Hong Kong Skyline

Hong Kong is often cited as one of the most impressive skylines in the world, and considering how dense the city is, it’s no surprise that downtown Hong Kong is filled with skyscrapers. The tall buildings are most impressive at night, when the neon lights shine bright enough to block out the stars. But it’s not just in downtown. Even when I ventured to areas near the end of the MTR (Hong Kong’s metro)  line, I still saw high rise after high rise.

Hong Kong is proud of it’s skyline and they show every evening, 365 days a year, at 8 pm with a light show. My friend told me that sometimes the announcements that run during the show are in English, sometimes Mandarin and sometimes Cantonese. She isn’t sure why it changes or when. When I saw the light show, the announcements were in Mandarin, which is Greek to me, so if the announcements enhance the experience in any way, then I missed out.

The light show and the skyline is on Hong Kong island, in the Central district, but to get the best view you need to be across the bay. From Central, you can take the star ferry to Tsim Sha Tsui for just a few Hong Kong Dollars (less than 50 cents USD). While lounging on the steps outside of the Hong Kong Museum of Art and watching the show, you can also check your e-mail (if you have a WiFi deviece such as an iPhone). That area has free government WiFi. I wish there was free WiFi in the downtowns of more cities!

A junk boat passes in front of the Hong Kong skyline.

Skyline Light show

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February 23, 2011

Osaka Skyline at Night

Filed under: Domestic, Kansai, Trips — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — myyearinjapan @ 12:01 am

I spent New Years in Osaka. Osaka is usually considered Japan’s 2nd largest city with 2.6 million people. Actually, the city that comes 2nd in terms of population is Yokohama, with 3.6 million people. But Yokohama is basically an extension of Tokyo, so if you look at the Tokyo metropolis as one entity, then the Osaka metropolis would be number 2. However, there is another way to calculate population that does place Osaka second. If you look at the number of people who are in Osaka by day, the city surges to 3.7 million. People commute in from bedroom suburbs and nearby cities such as Kobe. So, during the day, Osaka is bigger than Yokohama.

Osaka has a really different feel from Tokyo. Tokyo is the capital and the center of big business, but Osaka is more of a center of industry. It originally was built up as a city of merchants, so it was never high class. Osaka culture is all about food. And there is a lot of good food in Osaka. Osaka is often referred to as the nation’s kitchen (天下の台所). Some of the famous food of Osaka include Takoyaki (octopus balls), Okonomiyaki (lit. made as you like it, sometimes called a Japanese pancake, but also sometimes compared to pizza), and sushi.

While I was able to eat some good food in Osaka, I wasn’t able to do much sightseeing. In Japan, Christmas is a great time to travel because everything is still open, but New Years is another story. Almost everything was closed from December 30th through January 3rd. One place that was open was the Umeda Sky Building, which has an observation deck that offers a great view of the city. We went up there after dark and I took these pictures.

OsakaOsaka at Night
osaka2

Another view of Osaka

bridges

Bridges in Osaka. Osaka is a port city. It sits on the sea and has many rivers running through it. That's what made it so perfect for becoming a major center for trade.

osaka

More of Osaka. Can you see the red oval just to the right of the center of the picture? That's a ferris wheel on top of a shopping mall.

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