We wanted to spend a while in Osaka, but when we planned there was no Covid-19 so everything was open.
Sadly when we got there unless it was a bad or restaurant it was all closed! So our experience of Osaka was a little tainted. Yes we had the best Okonominyaki at the station twice ( it was so good we went back the next day before we went to Kyoto! It was so good we considered hoping on a bullet train back to the station to eat it again.
We had booked the sumo wrestling which we were so excited about but it was cancelled to the public just as we arrived. We planned our journey around the Sumo and the Nara festival. But what we didn’t research enough was that Nara was closer to Osaka then Kyoto, lesson learned.
We were told that people in Osaka are very helpful and friendly and we were struck by it immediately. If we looked lost someone would ask us if we were okay.
The bullet trains made it easier to visit places but it was still a slight hiccup that experience ha taught us.
The bars and restaurant culture in Osaka was epic but it was also the busiest place. We visited the castle on the first day and paid £10 to have a drink on the roof. Bar charges are a a common occurrence in Japan so get used to it, the most we ever paid was £14 each but it was in Kyoto and the place was a ghost town so we were happy to support the bar. The roof top was empty and beautiful so I am glad we did it. It was so quite that we took photos on our phone on the timer. There was no one around it felt very safe.
We had a few gins ( Hiroshima gin is beautiful) and we drank it a lot. Just make sure you ask for Japanese gins otherwise you will get imported British gin.
We also Skyped my mum to check on her, Aunty and the dog. The castle contrasted with the backdrop of Osaka felt unreal.
Food Osaka style
Ummm I have already mentioned the Okonominyaki which was amazing we had it on our last night and then just before we left and we loved it. But that wasn’t the most exciting meal we had. I had seen the Netflix show about Izakaya Toyo whet he cooks with his hands and a blow torch.
It’s all very theatrical and wonderful and for the tourists. I have mentioned before that Japan doesn’t really do street food, it is not ingrained in their culture but they do put it on and you will find it in most places. But this is for us the tourist.
Thank god because it’s so good.
We had to queue for our food for about five minutes and the food was so good. It was busy and we loved the hustle and bustle but it was full of tourists. Toyo was warm and funny and ran up and down the street! He encouraged pictures and filming and the tuna was great! All the food was great.
I accidentally picked gav a can of whiskey highball but he drank it and we ordered more food and helped ourselves to more drink.
I loved it!
I was looking forward to the famous octopus balls and we ate a lot of them. It’s important to remember that these are napalm hot and even if you leave them for 10 minutes they are still going to burn your mouth so wait, then wait some more.
I love octopus it’s my favourite meat of choice, tender tasty I love it. In the UK it’s not common on the restaurant scene so I generally order it when ever I am out.
We also ate out in restaurants but Osaka is a foodie hotspot we also had amazing Ramen at a cool cafe where you had to use a machine to order. We would definitely recommend Kamukura for a cheap and tasty eat, and order the gyoza I think it was the best we had the whole time.
We stayed in a great location in Umeda but if I was going to go back to Osaka I would stay closer to Namba station because we ended up there most nights.
Osaka is a busy city.
There were crowds everywhere.
It was a Stark contrast to the quietness of Hiroshima it almost felt like corona virus wasn’t there. There was so many shops so if you love shopping then this is the place to go. The Pokemon museum, rides were closed so we just had food, temples and bars again and they where just as impressive here!
The wonderful thing about Shinto religion is that you worship small local gods and there are so many.
We spent a lot of time walking around this huge city. Exploring shrines, discovering melon pan and drinking.
On our third evening we walked past the a building that had a sign for 8 bars. It was down a flight of steps and looked like a scary basement. It was a labyrinth of doors so we just picked on and went it. We found a tiny bar that could seat no more than 8 people sat relaxed and had a few gins! We planned to go back the next night and try another door but we ended up at another bar.
It’s really important to explore the city. Japan is pretty safe so we never felt like we could explore. The basement below did look highly uninviting but spent a great few hours down there.
I am putting this blog post together and remembering so much!
We took it easy in Osaka as we had four days and lots of our plans had been cancelled. So we stayed out late, slept in ( till 9am bliss) and hunted for fluffy pancakes.
I am going to leave this blog here but with one lasting image and that is the amazing okonominyaki Kiji oh yes! This was a ten minute walk from our hotel and we ate there twice. The next day we were there at 11am when it opened and there were two people in front of us and we both had backpacks on!
We sat at the grill table where they make them and we both ordered what we had the night before with beer ( of course). It was a great way to start outlet trip to Kyoto. With full bellies and happy memories of food, drink and the kindness of Osaka.
So some of the highlights!
- Kuramon market for lunch
- Dotombori street for crazy city life we had some octopus balls and ramen near here you can shop till late in the night
- Izakaya Toyo, the raw tuna was my favourite it was also great for the drama and fun of it, it was a cold drizzly day and we had great time
- Sumo wrestling ( we didn’t go but we watched it on tv)
- Osaka castle was beautiful and quiet when we were there but definitely aim for sunset when you visit as the views and contras were amazing
- Shrines are every where but the moss ( near donburi street) and the lion ( near Namba station) were like no other shrines we shrines seen!
- Don Quixote is a great shop for everything but there is one on the river that has a Ferris wheel which was scary but fun to do ( I hate heights)
- We can’t comment on the museums and sky towers we wanted to visit because they were closed.