Osaka, naughty but nice

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Flag of Japan  , Kinki,
Friday, September 20, 2013

Today we get up early to catch the train to Osaka, probably too early as we have some time to kill before we leave the hotel and spend it relaxing.

We arrive in Osaka about midday and make our way to the Hotel Granvia which is right above the station. We are too early for check in so dump the luggage and head out for some lunch. The station is smack in the middle of a whole bunch of shopping malls and department stores including Daimaru and Mitsukoshi. We venture down to the Daimaru food hall hoping to find somewhere to sit down with a plate of sashimi or the like. I have never seen a food hall like it, counter after counter selling the most delicious looking food of all sorts, all ready to take home, heat and serve. You would never have to cook again if you lived here. The restaurants are on the 14th floor so we make our way up there and again have an amazing array to choose from. We ended up eating skewers of breadcrumbed meat and seafood, with vegetables and dipping sauces. Not bad.

John is keen to see Shin-Umeda city, a building located about a kilometre from the station. This building is shaped like an inverted U. The bridge part across the top has a round hole in it. We take the lift up 173 metres and then we take an escalator across the gap between the two main tower elements and end up in the top part of the upside down U, hope that makes sense! From here you can walk around the edge of a circular path with fabulous views out over Osaka and surrounding areas. The inner part of the circular path looks down the 173 metres to the ground below. It is impressive and nerve wracking at the same time. Osaka like any big city stretches for miles and we are yet to discover its hidden delights!

We head back to the hotel where we are escorted to our room through a labyrinth of corridors. We lie low for an hour or so and then head out to discover more about Osaka. Firstly it is a much more modern city, with wide tree-lined streets. I am reminded a bit of Melbourne and then for some reason recall that it is a 'sister city' to Melbourne, whatever that means. The taxi drops us at Shinsaibashi, a relatively classy end of town. Again there are the usual suspects in the shop line, all the typical designer shops. We potter around here and then head towards a district called America Mura, which features a miniature Statue of Liberty. It’s pretty dull, with not much happening for a Friday night except for a few geek girls out shopping. We make our way to Dotombori. I have never been anywhere that compares to this place. Bright lights, huge flashy signs, giant pieces of sushi, crabs and puffer fish, supposedly trying to entice you into their restaurants, shop after shop of arcade games complete with tacky prizes and of course shops selling all sort of clothes, jewellery and other stuff. The loud music blaring from the shops is deafening. We find a restaurant down a quiet street for some dinner, a mixture of sashimi, gyoza, beef hotplate and yakatori sticks. All was good except the yakatori sticks which were a bit gristly. Fortunately Daimaru at the station has a good wine selection and John pops in on the way home to provide us with a bottle of Cote du Rhone for a nightcap.
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