Day 8: Osaka (大阪)
Some consider Osaka to be a mini-Tokyo and I can see why. Osaka station is about an hour from Kyoto station. We pretty much made this into a day tour and attempted to cover as much as possible. But you could easily spend a few days in this city. Starting from Osaka station, we headed to the Umeda (梅田) Sky Building. This building stands out and one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks. It’s basically 2 building that merge at the top (cool escalator across). As always, we headed up to the rooftop observatory to get the view of Osaka. It was quite the cloudy day.
This building was a slight detour, so we had to head back to Osaka station to get on the Osaka loop train line which is like the JR Yamanote line in Tokyo (or the Chicago loop line). We got off the train stop closest to the Shinsekai (新世界) New World market. You know you are at the right place when you it starts to look like an amusement park and you see Tsutenkaku (通天閣) tower in the background. Shops and eat spots everywhere. The street food is great too. But I noticed that several shops were closed during the morning around 11am.
And since we were in the land of Takoyaki (ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour-based batter and cooked in a special molded pan, filled with minced/diced octopus, pickled ginger, and green onion), one could not resist eating at a spot with a huge octopus on the store front.
After walking through the marketplace completely, you’ll arrive at Ebisucho station. From here, we just walked for blocks along sekaisuji street until we arrived in Nipponbashi (日本橋日本橋) DenDen town which is a smaller version of Akihabara Electric town in Tokyo. There were electronic stores, anime/manga stores, action figure stores, video game stores, etc. It started raining so I don’t have many photos, but I did manage to assist Solid Snake espionage mission. And if anyone is familiar with the MegaMan games, guess what, the original Japanese name is RockMan.
A few more blocks will lead you to the Kuromon Ichiba (黒門市場) Black Gate market. Again with the shops and eat spots. Not easy to resist buying something. A few blocks further will lead you to Namba City (難波) station. This is regarded as Osaka’s center and it started to look like Tokyo with its large buildings and all. And since we were finally in Namba, Dotonbori (道頓堀) was not too far away. Dotonbori is the Vegas strip of Osaka and definitely the place to be. Large crowds are everywhere day and night throughout the Dotonbori canal. If I was staying at Osaka, I would want my hotel to be a 10 minute walk away. The signboards on the stores and restaurants were quite impressive and make Dotonbori such a unique place.
You can never be hungry if you are here. Too many good things to eat. I didn’t even last 5 minutes. Once I saw the huge mechanical crab (legs move), I had to go in and have me some crab. Great view from the upper floors.
And it doesn’t matter if you’re full, it won’t stop you from trying other things beyond your limit. Ooh look takoyaki with the squid legs sticking out of the balls.
And you can’t say you’ve been in Dotonbori without standing by the bridge next to Osaka’s iconic Glico runner sign. And of course, everybody does the tourist pose.
And this place may actually be brighter at night since everything lights up. Time Square has some competition. Also, if you didn’t satisfy your shopping needs by now, the Shinsaibashi (心斎橋) shopping street is right there.
Well, it gets dark early in the winter. We headed back to Kyoto that night and said farewell to Osaka but not goodbye. Why not goodbye? Because Universal Studios Japan is in Osaka…