friends, japan, osaka, travel

Osaka 2013 – Shinsaibashi, Dotonbori & Kuromon Market

For the Japan part of my trip, it was only Adrienne, Orson and I because Alvin unfortunately had to go back to Hong Kong since he didn’t have much vacation days😦  Since it was my first time in Japan I wanted to maximize the places I visited so we decided to go to Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo.  We had a 8:10 am (or so) flight from Seoul to Tokyo so we literally had to be all packed and ready to go by 5 am. We were running a bit late and missed the first train the airport, so we were quite short on time. But luckily, Asians are so efficient that we got through check-in and customs very quickly and was able to board with 5~10 minutes to spare before take off.   Every time I fly it is usually a long distance flight so this 2 hour flight was pretty enjoyable. Japan Airline is awesome, they even had video games for you to play at your seat including Street Fighter!!! The backside of the TV remote is a video game remote. How cool is that? But as I sucked at Street Fighter, I ended up playing Mahjong.

When we landed in Japan we immediately got our shinkansen (bullet train) tickets to go straight to Osaka which was a near 3 hour train ride. One thing that I would definitely recommend to foreign travellers is to buy a JR Rail Pass before landing in Japan. It’s about $300 CDN for unlimited usage on any JR line which was pretty much all we used to commute with during one week’s time.

On our bullet train ride to Osaka, we finally got to try the famous train bentos! I was quite excited about this because I heard there were a large variety of them to choose from, and that they were delicious. But, I was extremely underwhelmed.. The choices weren’t that spectacular, and you can imagine since the bentos are pre-packed, the food is of course cold. Taste wise it isn’t bad, but it wasn’t especially good either : /

When we finally arrived to Osaka, we had a huge mishap because Orson left his wallet (after paying) in our taxi to our hotel!!! We were really panicked because we had no idea what taxi company we were even in, the driver’s name, and couldn’t even figure out how to use the hotel room phone to cancel his credit cards. But Japanese people are soo kind and have such a high-level of service that the taxi driver actually came back to our hotel to give back the wallet : )  I’m very impressed by their honesty and sheer kindness. Orson tried to tip him 50 bucks and he wouldn’t even take it.

So, with the wallet situation finally settled, we headed out to visit the main attraction of Osaka – Shisaibashi and Dotonbori, the famous shopping and eating streets! And also where the Glico Man landmark was located!! Our hotel was located so closely to the streets’ intersection that we arrived at Glico Man so quickly that I was a bit disappointed. I had all this excitement to finally see it, and it happened before I even knew it, literally.

But we still took many pictures by it : )

I really liked Osaka because everyone’s fashion is so interesting! People dress quite flashy and I am always intrigued by flashy clothing. I feel like people in Osaka had a lot of sense of personal style, and weren’t afraid to show it – props to them! I respect that much more than people who dress exactly like everyone else. I felt like that was what people in Seoul were like…every “fashionable” person, especially males dressed in the exact same style. It was nice looking of course, but just the same.

As Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori was a major intersection and nightlife area, there were A LOT of host club guys standing around outside as the sun went down. You can spot these guys from a mile away because they are the only people that would be in flashy suits with huge collars, and extremely exaggerated hairstyles. I had a lot of fun watching them try and fail to approach at potential customers. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to sneak a picture of them because I didn’t know if they would get mad at me or not …

Since we were in Osaka, we had to try Osaka specialties such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki. I LOVE takoyaki but I am not a huge fan of okonomiyaki because I find it way too filling (from what I have eaten in Toronto). The takoyaki in Osaka is slightly different than the ones we have in Toronto, bigger in size, and more mushy. But taste generally is around the same, so it was pretty good. But I think I would’ve liked more octopus in mine. Maybe we didn’t pick a good shop to buy it from. There are so many that it was hard to choose which one to try out. Same with okonomiyaki shops, but we ended up choosing a restaurant one so we could sit down and relax for a bit.  Another Osaka speciality is actually yakisoba, so I suggested we get the Hirashimiyaki which is sort of like an okonomiyaki over yakisoba. Now that I think about it, maybe we should’ve gotten the regular okonomiyaki in it’s true Kansai style since we WERE in Osaka..but we really enjoyed our Hirashima style okonomiyaki since with the addition of yakisoba, there was much less “flour/pancake” so it was less filling.

We didn’t shop too much at Shinsaibashi because other than the fact that we were tired from all the travelling, we also didn’t want to spend so much money before even arriving into Tokyo.

The next morning we headed out to Kuromon Market for breakfast because my friend Joey who went to Japan a couple weeks before we did, told me that they had a $5 negitoro-don there which was one of the best things that he had. Kuromon is kind of like a food / grocery market with several little restaurant shops. On the way there we saw this group of bikers getting interviewed!!! I have no idea what it was for but I took a picture of them anyway (unfortunately took out my camera kind of late so I only got the back of them, but you can kinda see their hairstyles!)

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I got the negitoro-don, but my friends weren’t too keen on it so they walked around to purchase other food to eat. They had a lot of dessert stands, croquette and tempura stands, and sushi stands all for pretty cheap prices. I wish I bought some more!

After breakfast, we headed back towards the train station to go to Kyoto, which is actually only a 15 minute ride!

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