There’s a Japanese saying they use to describe Osaka which translates to something like, ‘falling down from eating’. Osakites love their food and they love to party. The amount of restaurant and bar lined streets you can find in this city is testament to it. In our hostel we met a couple of people who had originally come here for a few days and ended up staying for weeks. Paul and I didn’t have that luxury so we had to stick to our 2 day stay over here.
It probably took us the whole two days we were here to recover from our overnight bus journey. Clearly the good old days where we could be up all night and still function the next day are long gone! Still we got to see quite a bit of the city in the short time we had.
My favourite walk was along the river where we found a little park studded with gorgeous art installations. We got here by accident after the cleaner of our hostel told us to go visit a samurai house. We obeyed, followed his directions and ended up at a doctor’s house. Something had been lost in translation. Luckily the river was round the corner and we went to explore there. There was a space in the park where a few old people had set up easels and were painting the scenery. It was great to just sit and watch them in action. Paul was very inspired by them and a few days later he actually bought a sketch book and pencils so he could sit down and capture the scenery.
On our way back to the hostel we got completely lost as usual and had to ask for directions. We stopped a guy walking in the opposite direction and he quickly told us where to go and continued on his way. We stood there trying to match what he told us with our map when all of a sudden we found him next to us again, this time offering to walk us to our destination. Wow! We made a mental note that the next time we asked for directions we’d stop someone going in our same direction.
That night as we were deciding where to eat we were ushered into an Isakaya by a man who enthusiastically told us how great the food was here. We were persuaded and walked in, realising that the guy wasn’t employed there, he was another customer who had gone out to smoke. He was definitely right about the food. We had the most amazing ramen and slurped away to our hearts’ content.
The next day we visited an indoor market that’s over two kilometres long. We quickly got sidetracked by all the gorgeous food on offer and stopped for an early lunch at one of the places. It was interesting to see that after food establishments, the next most popular outlets were the pachinko places. Huge rooms jam packed with a Japanese type of slot machine. The music in these places is blaring out at volume 11, heavy clouds of cigarette smoke permeate the air and people of all ages sit there betting away for hours. The environment was so uncomfortable that P and I could never spend more than 10 seconds in the place so we never got to try our hand at these ball operated slots.
When we got back to our hostel we bumped into some British girls we had met in Hiroshima. It was great seeing them again. We spent hours chatting away, swapping travel stories and putting the world to rights. They told us about a monkey sanctuary they’d just visited where they feed the monkeys whilst playing the cancan song. We completely lost track of time and we ended up going to the famous nightlife district, Dotonbori quite late. We sped through the streets taking in the ‘blade runner’ like scenery and looking for a place to eat. Crab is a speciality here and restaurants attract punters by hanging giant crab sculptures with moving claws.
Most restaurants were closing down and we ended up following a guy who stood outside with a menu, to the 10th floor of a building. Not good. The food wasn’t great and we couldn’t even identify the meat we were eating. Chewy and taste less, I was convinced it was intestine. Yuck!
We then had a mad dash to get our last train back to our hostel. Luckily we made it. The main reason why we were late was because the one bad, bad thing for travellers in Japan is that almost all of the banks do not take foreign cards. The only places that do are the post office or 7/11. So you constantly have to walk around to find a 7/11 to get money out. Very, very annoying. If there are any Japanese reading this, please tell your tourist authority to change this.
So that was 2 days in Osaka. Our next stop is Nara where my lovely man Paul will write.
Karen & Paul xxx