Memoirs of a Gaijin: Sights of Osaka

The adventures continues and while Tokyo was fun with barely hitting anything (trust me, what you saw on the earlier post was a sliver of the whole place), it’s time to venture on and head on over to Osaka!

Awesome! How long was the flight?

We didn’t take a plane. You’re in Japan! We bought a JR Pass before we left Canada and rode the shinkansen!

Shin-ka-what?

Shinkansen or the ‘bullet train:

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Beat that leg room, Air Canada!

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Gotta hang my hat. This is going to take a while.

Experiencing the shinkansen was surreal because here I was, on a train, going >200km/hr. You feel it when you’re walking around because with all the sudden movements and the leaning on one side to do a proper apex curve meant you looked like a drunk when walking to the restroom.

You also get overpriced meals and coffee served to you (500JPY or $5CDN for black coffee!) but it was a pleasant and enjoyable 3 hour ride from Tokyo to Osaka.

So what’s the deal with this JR Pass? How does it work?

The JR Pass lets you ride any form of Japan Rail (JR) transportation for unlimited times during a fixed duration (7, 14, 21-day passes are available for purchase). You can get on any JR train line, ferry, bus, whatever as long as you show the pass to an attendant.

So it’s like a VIP pass for rockstars. That sounds awesome to me.

The best part is that only foreigners can buy them and you do save money if you plan on going beyond Tokyo.

Seems like you’re off to a good start. 

Sure am! Now, here’s Osaka!:

Osaka is more laid-back than Tokyo and we stayed in Namba ward (a great spot that we stayed in is called Floral Inn Namba), which is central to all the shopping blocks or suji’s as they called them. Places like Shinbasisuji, Dotonbori, etc.

So what’s there to do in these places?

Well, Osaka is known as the ‘foodie’ place of Japan where you just eat and eat and eat. The Japanese even came up with a phrase for the experience, Kuidaore (coo-ee-dah-oh-reh) or “to ruin oneself by extravagance in food”

Well, where are the pictures?!

They’re in the Food section so you’ll have to check that one out. Right now, it’s just sights.

You’re a killjoy, you know that? Fine, let’s get on with it.

Namba in general, can offer a lot of things; electronics district, eating districts, and even a random driving range in the middle of an alley:

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That is definitely such a random thing to do on vacation.

I needed to relax and get away from the sun! So let me explain to you the different parts within Osaka:

Shinbaishi is just shopping lanes interconnected within Namba. There, you’ll see neon signs like this famous Glico man, representing a major food corporation in Japan:

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Dotonbori, also interconnected with Namba, is the food district, where you can try out takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake stuffed with random things). 

There’s also Nipponbashi or Den-Den Town, which is Osaka’s equivalent of Akihabara.

I don’t know how but one can get sick of all of that eating. Some people do so in order to get away, you just take a random line and head on over to somewhere else. I did my research thought and went to the city of Sakai:

This place is known for its meticulous manufacturing of Japanese knives.

Knives? You’re a freak, you know that?

What?! I’m a foodie and I love having top-notch equipment. Japanese knives are among the most respected in the culinary community and Sakai is known to make the best of the best. In fact, their economy depends on it.

That’s how you know it’s quality merchandise.

All this knife talk is freaking me out.

Alright, alright. Sakai in general, is another quiet and quaint city if you ever want to get away from the neon lights of Namba, Dotonbori, etc. I don’t know why since there’s so much to eat but here’s an alternative if you just want to stroll at a quiet park with no one to disturb you.

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Next, you have to go to Osaka Castle:

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This looks like another castle. What’s the big deal?

Unlike the other ones we’ve trekked to, Osaka Castle actually lets people in and was renovated as a museum to provide a rich history of the Castle, its former inhabitants, and to provide stunning aerial views of Osaka. Definitely one of my favorite places in Osaka.

Is it similar to Tokyo’s Imperial Palace?

Better. It’s just as big and we had more fun here than Imperial Palace,

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We found this random cat, strolling around the Castle. Looks to be well-fed and manicured claws.

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Victor and I propose that this cat is the Emperor reincarnated. Plausible.

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Random crane origami that we found on the Castle walls. We dare not touch it as it was symbolic of good luck and for all we know, it was probably holding the wall intact. 

Osaka was our ‘hub’ to do day-trips in southern Japan and since they’re mostly known for food, you’ll see way more pictures in the Food section. 

Plus, we have to get ready for our daytrip. Kyoto-bound!

– Don

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