About my trip
It has always been a dream of mine to visit Japan. Ever since my brother went in his early twenties and showing me pictures of Japan, I knew it was my dream destination to visit. Japan is definitely one of the more popular destinations with locals even calling for a restriction on tourism to the country because it is overcrowding the cities, doesn’t it make you want to visit it more!
Japan is gaining traction as a popular travel hotspot especially since the Olympics will be held there in 2020 and I was lucky enough to visit a few cities there but I was not fortunate enough to see the Northern provinces due to time.
I want to just outline some places to visit in Osaka and some things to do. Maybe suggest a few places where you can feast on food, which isn’t just sushi.
What should I do in Osaka?
First of all, you should decide where you want to stay. Japan doesn’t only possess the luxury of a hotel but you can also choose to stay in a ryokan or a capsule hotel, both of which are interesting options. AirBnB is also popular there and is another economical and excellent choice but as the Japanese are very respectful, you may not have any interaction with your host as they will respect your privacy. I also want to point out that a lot of Airbnb hosts will provide you with a pocket wifi if you aren’t going to rent one – these devices are a portable source of wifi and I highly recommend using one on your visit.
If you really want something that is truly Japanese then stay in a Ryokan, this traditional homestay includes sliding doors, tatami flooring and Japanese kaiseki meals too. One thing to bear in mind is that a ryokan homestay is quite expensive. However staying in a ryokan is an experience in itself and unlikely to be a regret.
This is one of the most well known districts in Osaka and we stayed in an AirBnb nearby, which was very convenient as we could get to Dotonburi in minutes and begin the chow-fest. It is highly likely that if you’ve ever seen pictures of Japan that Dotonburi is featured. Neon lights and canals as the backdrop showcase what Osaka has to offer. There is an endless amount of shops and restaurants, I would highly recommend walking around and wandering just to familiarise yourself with the area. For foodies, this will be your heaven.
The museum is located outside of the central district and near Ikeda station. We took the metro to get to the museum and it was definitely a fun visit. There was no entry fee and they only ask that you purchase an empty cup noodle (300 Yen) as a tasty souvenir.
The museum is well laid out and shows you the history of instant ramen noodles (my childhood) and about Momofuku Ando who came up with the idea. It is great for kids as you can then take your empty ramen cup, draw some designs on it and then watch as the vendor places your cup on the ramen conveyor belt.
Osaka Castle & Osaka Aquarium
The five-storey castle is one of the most beautiful structures in Osaka centre and each floor has an extensive display of historical items and details the history of the castle.
The aquarium is another great visit, especially for families. The variety is vast and it is located opposite the Tempozan ferris wheel. There is a special card that offers a discount on the locations and train pass called a Kaiyu card which may be good for those visiting on a day trip.
Umeda Sky building
I wanted to mention the Sky building/ Kuchu Teien observatory as it is a great place to view Osaka city and the escalator leading up to the top floor is one of the most interesting things I have seen. It is very futuristic and offers a view of the city while you are going up. The entry fee is 1000 yen but I don’t think there is any other building like it.
Places to Eat
Located in Dotonburi, the queue to get into the restaurant extended down the canal but it was worth it. I don’t think I will ever be able to experience ramen the same way as I did in Ichiran. As we entered the restaurant, we were directed to another line to a vending machine. I was crazy enough to think that the ramen was going to eject from the machine but it was a ticketing machine. A lot of ramen restaurants will have a vending machine which takes your money in exchange for a ticket for ramen and anything else you order.
As you sit in a little cubicle, there is a bamboo curtain in front of you, slide your ticket past the curtain and magically some hands will push a bowl of (pork bone) tonkotsu ramen in front of you. The broth is a golden colour, creamy and unctuous, the pork slice melts in your mouth and the ramen has a slight bounce as you bite into it. I have never tasted a ramen like it since.
My only regret is that I didn’t order another bowl.
This is a Japanese style pancake and consists of an egg flour pancake mixed in with seafood or pork then fried on a griddle top. The pancake is then brushed with a rich teriyaki style sauce and seaweed dust. There are a lot of places to try it but we went to a small local restaurant called Okonomiyaki Chitose, we waited 30 minutes outside and we were extremely lucky as they stopped serving customers after us.
Another Japanese favourite which looks like the Japanese version of Ikea’s Swedish meatballs. The small doughballs are expertly fried by vendors and usually have small pieces of octopus in the gooey centre. The takoyaki is topped with a rich Worcester sauce, bonito flakes (dried tuna) and seaweed dust. There is a famous place to get them called Kukuru and you can’t miss it as there is a large octopus on the side of its building.
Kuromon Ichiba Market
We spent half a day at this market and you can find souvenirs, beauty products and food here. It is a great place to try fresh seafood and we sampled some gigantic king prawns and chicken kara-age here.
A lot of you might think I’ve lost it as curry is commonly associated with Indian food. However Japan has its own version of curry which is also delicious, their breaded meat – Katsu curries are delicious and you can enjoy it at an Coco Ichibanya curry-house.
About the Author:
My name is Vince and I am 26 years old and medical professional working in the UK. I was born in Wales and grew up in Birmingham. It was only until I had started working professionally that I had enough money to go and travel, so at every opportunity I went exploring.