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