Osaka, Japan

Looking out over Osaka

To conclude my stay in Japan, I visited Osaka! Since Kyoto and Osaka are quite close, it didn’t take me long to get into town and check into my first hostel, Nine Hours Namba Station. The hostel was well situated near Namba Station (duh), meaning I had no trouble getting around the city by subway. I took the opportunity on my first day to visit one of the shopping streets, Shinsekai. Right at the end of the street is an observation tower called Tsutenkaku. The view was pretty good, but they took every opportunity to shove advertisements down your throat by running you through several floors of stores on the way back down. Combined with the fact that the day was somewhat cloudy, I really didn’t find it particularly worth it.

However, when I walked by later that evening, with all the lights turned on, it was actually quite a nice area to be in! Maybe I should have just gone after dinner instead of before.

Tsutenkaku Tower at night

Looking up from Shinsekai at Tsutenkaku Tower

Speaking of dinner: I decided to wander to a tiny little restaurant I found listed on TripAdvisor, called Okonomiyaki Chitose. For those that don’t know, okonomiyaki is a sort of Japanese pancake, often filled with various types of vegetables, meats, and sometimes fried noodles (yakisoba). I chose this place as it was very well reviewed, and many of the reviews mentioned vegetarian options.

When I arrived, there was a little bit of a line out the door. No surprise there, considering the place seated about 12 people and there was only one older man doing the cooking! The vegetarian options that were mentioned in the reviews weren’t officially on the menu, but easy to request. I also found out that the owner himself went vegetarian last year!

The owner of Okonomiyaki cooking

Okonomiyaki Chitose’s owner cooking up a storm

As for the food: I can honestly say it was one of the best meals of my life. I got a vegetarian okonomiyaki with fried noodles and cheese. It was absolutely stuffed with veggies and other miscellaneous foods like corn, peas, onions, peanuts, and even pineapple!

My vegetarian okonomiyaki

Vegetarian okonomiyaki with fried noodles and cheese

Yes, I just spent three paragraphs and two images talking about one restaurant. Deal with it.

The next day was my 22nd birthday! I started off the day by visiting Osaka Castle with someone that I had met in Kyoto just a few days before. The castle was more like a museum and an observation point than a cultural site, which somewhat surprised me. It was still nice to check it out though!

Osaka Castle courtyard

Approaching the main building of Osaka Castle

After lunch, I moved from Nine Hours Namba Station to a fancy ryokan (Japanese style hotel) called Kaneyoshi Ryokan for the night, paid for by my dad as a birthday gift (thanks dad)!

The room was private, which was a first for this trip, and was laid out in traditional Japanese style with a futon directly on the floor and a low table ornamented with a tea set, with hot water already ready to be used. The building was right along a canal, which gave me a beautiful view out the window at the people and the nightlife. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay in that hotel, as it gave me the chance to recover a little bit from my continuously busy itinerary and get some peace and quiet.

Kaneyoshi Ryokan

My room at Kaneyoshi Ryokan

Oh and of course, I went back to Okonomiyaki Chitose for the second night in a row, as it was so good.

The last thing of note that I did in Osaka was watch a cool cultural performance called Keren (seriously, check out their website, it’s kinda nuts). While the show was in Japanese, there was very little actual singing and talking, aside from some Japanese comedians that came on for a little bit before the show started.

Side note about the comedians: there were three pairs that came on. I expected to mostly just sit bored through their performances, but the third duo (and presumably the best one) was able to make me laugh through their physical actions, even with the language barrier. Props to them!

The show itself had its effects done by Moment Factory, who are based in Montreal and have done many fantastic light and visual effects projects worldwide, including the National Art Centre’s new building display! The dancing was phenomenal, the lights and effects were dramatic, and the show covered just about every Japanese cultural base I could think of over the course of the 75 minute runtime, including things like samurai, crowded subways, anime, and the yakuza. Totally worth the money to go see it, especially since I got the foreigners discount that brought the price down to nearly half!

Sword fight from "Keren"

An epic samurai sword fight from the show “Keren”

And that’s it! I ended up leaving Japan a day later than I planned due to me screwing up with my Vietnamese visa (oops!), but I didn’t really do anything worth writing about. You can check out where I went next on my Vietnam master post.

Want more? Check out an overview of my Japan trip here!

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