Trip To Osaka!

During Japan’s annual holiday of Golden Week, my friend Anna invited me to visit her in Osaka. I gleefully accepted, having never been there before, and having heard so many good things about the place. I have to say, Osaka was awesome!

First, travelling during Golden Week is super terrible. I went early to Tokyo station as I was travelling with shinkansen, thinking I could do some shopping while I had time. WRONG. Tokyo station was just stuffed full with people. It was really, really hard to move. It was hard to walk. It was hard to breathe. It was terrible! I gave up the shopping idea and went to wait early in the platform.

When I arrived in Osaka, the first thing that struck me was how quiet Osaka was in comparison to the insane bustle of Tokyo. Here’s a look at my train! Tada, so quiet!

 

Where did all the people go??

Dinner on the first night was spent with Anna and her family. It was make-your-own sushi night! Apparently, Japanese people do this quite often at home. I wonder why I’ve never heard of it before, and I think it’s such a nice, communal idea to do. Look! (Also, Japanese people are so great at presentation. Looking at this picture, you would not think you were eating at home, but in a restaurant!)

I need to go out and buy me a platter like this.

The next morning, we went for the Osaka specialty, okonomiyaki! Anna brought me to one of her favourite restaurants, called Chibo.

Started with a daikon salad. Refreshing!
Yakisoba! Oishi!!
Okonomiyaki. This was really delicious. The Tokyo equivalent is Monja, which apparently Osaka people consider ‘not even food’!
Look at our meal just waiting to be devoured.
My beautiful date!
Thanks for bringing me here, Anna!

Right after that, we went to Dotonbori, which is pretty much the must-do thing in Osaka. It was really crowded and full of people, but still not half as terrible as what I’d experienced in Tokyo station. I think, people there were walking slower compared to in the station, so I didn’t feel as rushed. Dotonbori was good fun, loads of little shops everywhere, especially takoyaki shops! There were a lot of omiyage shops too where you could buy giant souvenirs.

Dotonbori – sea of people.
More people.
Glico – if you’re here, you need to take a picture with it!
It’s a nice walk along the canal with little shops peppered along the way.
A live band performing.
Takoyaki – squid in a fried ball.
Here’s Anna, and behind her, in the red circle, is Ichiran Ramen! (I confess I still haven’t been there after living here for 1.5 years).
It was nice weather so people were eating outside.
Takoyaki shops abound everywhere!
More crowded takoyaki shops.
Well, eat sushi in Japan, right?
I still really don’t understand the advertising here.
Because big is better, no??

After the bustle of Dotonbori, we headed to Sumiyosha Taisha Shrine, one of Japan’s oldest shrines. It’s also one of three shrines that are considered purely Japanese This is the third largest shrine in Japan, and surprisingly, it wasn’t crowded at all. It felt serene, peaceful. There’s also the beautiful Sorihashi Bridge that casts an amazing reflection over the pond.

Beautiful day for a walk in the shrine.
Walking in.
Peace and greenery.
Still waters that reflected nature.
Anna washing her hands before entering the shrine.
We got fortunes – Anna got big luck, and I got small luck. After that, we tied them here. By the way, my fortune said “Not everyone around you is evil.”
Prayers.
How picturesque is this?

For dinner, Anna had a yakiniku party at home with her family! My friend Ming Siew was also in Osaka at that time, so Anna very hospitably invited her to join for dinner. Apparently, every family in Osaka has a hot plate, which can double as a yakiniku grill or make okonomiyaki. I’m thinking of getting one now!

Yakiniku party with Anna and her dad!
Anna, her wonderful family, and a bunch of gaijin!!

The next day, we headed off to Osaka castle. The line to get to the castle was so long, we decided to get some takoyaki before heading in.

Heading to Osaka castle!
Damn, I would feel pretty powerful if I lived there.
It was again, a beautiful clear day. Actually, it was so hot that it stopped being beautiful and became more of a sunburn type of day.
Some ninja wannabe trying to climb the castle. Don’t ask.
This takoyaki sign appealed to me.
Waited patiently for the takoyaki masters.
Yeah, squeeze, squeeze!
Get ready to meet my tummy!
I can think of a few people I want to use this on…
View from the top of Osaka castle.
View from another side of the castle.

Osaka was great, and I definitely want to come back. I think a huge part of what made it so great was really that Anna’s family was so warm, so hospitable, and just go genuinely nice and kind! It felt really good to be with a family, having kids running around, and talking to her parents. I didn’t realize how much I missed being in a family unit until this trip. After all, the people you’re with is what really makes a trip great or not, isn’t it?

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Ann Jie

Loves good conversations and hates small talk. Finds people fascinating and wonders why meanies exist. Loves writing violent, graphic short stories but finds horror movies too scary to watch. Follow me on Instagram @annjieslices or tweet me a slice of YOUR life at @annjieslices!

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