Japan Chronicles: Osaka

My first stop in Japan was Osaka, since I flew in through the Osaka Kansai airport. I was actually unsure about how many days I wanted to spend in Osaka, since I only had limited time for my vacation. Ultimately, I ended up spending three nights in Osaka, but only actually spending one full day there. (The first night was the night I landed, the second was the day I explored Osaka, and the third was following my day trip to Nara).

On my first full day in Osaka, I was out and about pretty early in order to do as much exploring as possible. While walking to the subway station, I noticed that there was a tourism center nearby, so I went to see if I could grab some maps and get suggestions for things I should see or do. I walked in, only to discover that they were shooting a commercial! And since I was there and needed assistance, they decided to put me in it! Woot woot!! I’m going to be famous!! They were actually really helpful, telling me places I should go, where to get the one-day subway pass, and even how to explain to street vendors that I can’t eat pork and to ask for shrimp. (If you know me, then you know how important that tip was LOL). They also invited me to a tour they were having later that evening.

The first thing I did when I left the tourism center was walk along Jan-jan Street, a popular street in the Shinsekai area IMG_0245where people come to eat and enjoy themselves. This street was within walking distance of my hostel and was packed with shops, restaurants, and arcades. This street also leads to Tsutenkaku Tower, which is a well-known Osaka landmark. This 103 m tower was modelled after the Eiffel Tower in Paris. You can go up to the observation deck of the tower for 700 yen and see the view of Osaka, but I wasn’t really interested in going to the top.

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Next, I headed to Osaka Castle, which everyone told me was an absolute must-see when in Osaka. In fact, the main tower of the castle is one of the most famous symbol buildings of Osaka. I took my time walking around the area, relaxing in the Osaka castle park, before heading to the main tower.

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Main Tower of Osaka Castle

Then I headed to the Dotombori section of the city. This place was shopping madness!! IMG_0268There were billboards and signs, and hoards of shoppers everywhere.  It was packed with stores, restaurants, and even a few arcades. I wish I would’ve been able to see it at night because I bet that it looks awesome with all of the signs and neon lights. There’s also a canal in the center of the area, and  you can take a short cruise and see some sights along the canal. I was there, the weather was nice, so why not?? Plus, the guide was hilarious!

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After that, I headed back to my hostel for a quick nap and prepared for the tour with the Tourist Center. We saw a knife demonstration, and we also took a small tour around the area, passing the Tsutenkaku Tower and the famous Spa World. The area looks much different at night, so it was great to check that out as well.

But my favorite part of the tour was the live popular drama performance. Popular dramas are similar to a casual form of Kabuki theater, and includes dancing, drama, and entertainment. These kind of shows are especially popular in the Shin-Imamiya area and are soo fun!! Plus, if you enjoy the actors’ performances, you can give them tips by stuffing cash on their belts. (I didn’t do it, but plenty of the older ladies in the theater definitely loved it LMAO!!) The men were dressed in Kimonos and they danced and sang on stage. You could also bring your own drinks in the theater as well.

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I took a pic with all the dancers after the show!

Surprisingly, after ALL of that, it was still pretty early. Since we didn’t want the night to end, we decided to go out for drinks and okonomiyaki! They ordered me a shrimp okonomiyimageaki (because I don’t dine with the swine) and it was delicious!! Okonomiyaki is a kind of Japanese pancake made from a batter made of flour, eggs, and a bunch of other vegetables. It’s fried in a pan and topped with a sauce similiar to Worcestershire sauce, fish flakes, and mayonaise. It’s pretty thick, so it ends up being incredibly filling.  I know, it sounds a little strange, but it was soo good. At the restaurant where we went, the lady actually cooked all of the food for us, but in many places they just give you the batter and you cook your okonomiyaki yourself. (LOL I found that out the hard way in Kyoto).

Dinner with new friends!!

Dinner with new friends!!

Afterwards, I headed back to the hostel to chill and plan my next day. I do wish that I had more time in Osaka and could have spent at least another day there. I wish that I made it to the Hep 5 Ferris Wheel and the Museum of Housing and Living. Even though I’m not really a museum person, the museum has recreations of actual buildings and streets of Osaka during the Edo era, as well as a bunch of interactive exhibits. But, there’s always next time!!

Have you ever been to Osaka? What was your favorite thing to do there?? Any suggestions for my next visit there?

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