For the second leg of our trip to Japan, Daniel and I visited Osaka. We took a quick bullet train from Kyoto that took no more than an hour, God bless the Shinkansen. Once we got into Osaka, we found our hotel fairly quickly and in a great area. Osaka reminded me a lot of Chicago, tons of style, class and personality but still not the behemoth that Tokyo is. This is really just a fantastic city to walk around and enjoy, but here are some places that you should make a point to see if you have the time:
The Umeda Sky Building: We first went here on a beautiful winter day, but once we made it to the top, we realize that we had to come back at night. We had just missed the German Christmas village they had set up for the holidays, but still enjoyed the way up and getting the incredible panoramic view of the city.
Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi: To me, these 2 areas in Osaka totally fulfilled the idea I had when I imagined bright and vibrant Japanese cities. Shinsaibashi is the famous shopping district in Osaka where you can walk around and get some excellent people watching, and Dotonbori was truly the heart of Osaka nightlife. It is here that I discovered the beautiful Japanese invention, PURIKURAS, or Japanese photo booths that basically turn you into an anime character. I think I visited these photo booths about, ooooohhhh 4-5 times while I was in Osaka AND HAVE NO REGRETS.
Osaka Aquarium: One of our favorite places we visited in Osaka, the Aquarium is definitely a place to stop by during your visit to Osaka. It has great exhibits, but I will warn you that 80% of it was in Japanese. Nevertheless it was so lovely to walk around and enjoy the beautiful sea life and to get out of the cold weather for a little while.
Okonomiyaki: Hands down, probably the best food we had IN ALL OF JAPAN. Our friend Heather recommended it to us before we left, and I could not be more indebted to her. Okonomiyaki is basically a cabbage pancake, but once you taste the wondrous meal, you will know it is so much more. After our visit to the Umeda Sky Tower at night, we made it down to the basement to a highly recommended Okonomiyaki restaurant. Luckily we got in there right before the line started and had a fantastic meal. Osaka and Hiroshima have a big rivalry of who has the best Okonomiyaki; I preferred Osaka’s because they put tons of cheese on top, but the one in Hiroshima was incredible and Dan’s favorite.
More next time about our day trip to Hiroshima! Sayonara!