Osaka

We first fell in love with Osaka the minute we stepped off the plane and into the airport. We had a fabulous time in the Philippines, but compared to Southeast Asia, Japan felt like a shiny, new, futuristic world that we couldn’t wait to explore. The bathrooms were full of buttons and options (sound effects, anyone?), the public transportation options were expansive and easily accessible, and bowls of noodles could be ordered from vending machines. It was a magical place.

We spent at least an hour wandering around Kansai International Airport investigating rental cellphone options and various rail pass packages before settling on a 2-day attraction/rail combo ($27/person) for our time in Osaka. The one we chose had all of the attractions we were interested in, and included all of our transportation (except the JR line), so we figured we could make the most of our time in Osaka without worrying about calculating every metro ride or museum visit. We did end up getting our money’s worth–just barely– and we ended up doing a bunch of things we wouldn’t have otherwise (ahem, ferris wheel ride) because it was included in the deal. It made for a very fun, although exhausting, 2 days in Osaka.

In Osaka we were lucky to find a couchsurfing host, so all of our daily budget (which we had to up from $33/day in China and Southeast Asia, to $100/day in Japan) went entirely to food and activities. Our host spoke no English, so it was super kind of him to open his traditional Japanese-style apartment to us. There wasn’t much interaction between us, but we did go out to a nice sushi dinner together, and he did print us out some helpful maps and drew all the places we wanted to visit on them. Very nice guy.

Anyway, here are all the places we went and things we ate during our time in Osaka! We actually ended up staying for 3 days because we liked it so much, although we only had the pass for 2. The last day was Kevin’s birthday, so I surprised him with a trip to Kobe for some yummy beef and a sake brewery tour. All that is for another day, though. We did spend the evening in Osaka, where we went out for a night of sushi and video games.

Sumiyoshi Shrine: Free Entry

Sumiyoshi Shrine is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan, surrounded by a peaceful park. It was the first place where we saw the bright orange Japanese shrines, which look much newer and brighter compared to the temples in China. Our couchsurfing host only lived a few blocks away, so the shrine made a good start for us before we swiped into the metro and activated our day passes.

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From Sumiyoshi Park we hopped on the metro and headed to Ragdoll Cat Cafe, which we had seen advertised in a brochure we picked up. We probably would not have gone if we had known it would be $10/person for one drink and an hour of playing with cats. Ouch! Even though it was expensive, we went for the novelty, and novel it was. We wanted to do something quirky in Japan and we definitely succeeded!

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I did not quite fit in with the animal lovers, but I (just barely) survived.

I didn’t quite blend in with the animal lovers, but I did survive. 😉

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Lunch was some yummy tempura, beef, and egg noodles ordered via vending machine. Mmmmmh.

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Peace Osaka:

Peace Osaka is a museum depicting the history of war in Japan and promoting a peaceful future. We really enjoyed the exhibits, and found the information to be refreshingly bias-free compared to other museums we have visited in Asia. Really enjoyed our visit here en route to Osaka Castle.

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Osaka Castle: 

Osaka Castle is beautiful, as is the park surrounding it. We found the museum inside to be a little boring, but the views from the top made up for it.

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Dotonbori:

We finished the night up with some shopping around Dotonbori. We definitely did not come prepared for the chill of October in Japan! After purchasing a few sweatshirts, we were much better able to enjoy our time in Osaka.

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Day 2

We started our second day off by hunting down some okonomiyaki, an eggy cabbage pancake that Osaka is famous for. I had mine with pork while Kevin ordered bacon and cheese. Yum.

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Osaka Museum of House and Living:

We really enjoyed this museum depicting what Osaka would have been like in the 1900’s. There are many shops and houses to wander through, and an assortment of models of Osaka at different points in history at the end.

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Looking down on the model town

Book store

Bookstore

HEP 5 Ferris Wheel:

Wouldn’t have done this if it wasn’t completely free (with our day passes) but we enjoyed it! 🙂

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Views were a bit obstructed by the weird glass, though.

Views were a bit obstructed by the weird glass, though.

Umeda Sky Building:

Famous rooftop views of Osaka, including a love seat and wall of locks for lovers. Kind of pricey normally, but we went for it since it was included in our package.

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Day 3: Kevin’s birthday

Sushi and video game bar. Enough said.

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If ever in Osaka, I highly recommend a relaxed night at Video Game Bar Space Station, where you can play unlimited, free video games with a tasty drink.

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We have heard many different opinions on Osaka, some finding it boring, others calling it “a dump” (which is really hard for me to fathom, but to each their own..). We thought it was the most modern, bright light, beautiful people, quirky, super fun city we have been to yet. If I ever return to Japan, I could easily spend much much longer in Osaka!

Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!! I’m so happy to be back to celebrate with my family this year. Xo!

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  1. Lee says:

    Egg noodles ordered via the vending machine seem super tasty.

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