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Exploring Osaka

3 months ago / travel / japan / osaka

All that good food plus my favourite ryokan EVER!

I have this sec school teacher whom I am still in contact with who (I think is) SUPER besotted with Japan. Like he will fly up for the weekend just to see the sakura full bloom.

So I saw this morning on Insta that he's now in Tokyo...

Which makes me miss Japan very much :sob:

My next trip to the land of the rising sun will only be in Nov (we're bringing the in-laws!) so excuse me while I reminisce of the food I'm NOT getting.

To be honest, Osaka is actually my least favourite city in Japan. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed myself there BUT it didn't have the energy / vibrance of Tokyo nor did it have the quaintness and charm of Gero, Takayama and the likes. However, I still recommend you head to Osaka for,

1) The awesome food. Osaka is known as the food capital of Japan!
2) It makes an excellent point for day trips to other cities such as Nara, Kyoto and Kobe.
3) The Wizarding World of HARRY POTTER!!!

Which ironically, we planned the entire trip just around Hogwarts (or in my words to the hubs, "so I can go to school" lol), but it was raining SO MUCH we didn't manage to go :sob:

We did, howewever, make it to...

Resort Hotel & Spa Blue Mermaid

If I can only choose one country to visit for the rest of my life, this ryokan alone is reason enough for me to say Japan.

Our Resort Hotel & Spa Blue Mermaid booking was a complete accident - I had typed "Ryokan Osaka" into Google, got a bunch of Japanese results, fell in love with the pics (why wouldn't you?!), relied a lil' on Google translate and promptly booked it...

Only to arrive at Kansai International Airport and have the husband tell me that it will take us 3 hours, 3 trains and an arduous uphill climb to get there.

So yup, after much fanfare which might or might not have involved some quarrelling lol, we finally arrived at Wabuka.

Where the hubs was treated to the best beef of his life (it still is the best sukiyaki we ever had) and well, all is forgiven.

I strongly recommend you spend at least 2 nights (I want to do 3, possibly 4, next time!) here and just disconnect. You know, wake up to the sunrise, fall asleep to an entire blanket of stars, soak in your very own private cliffside onsen and swim in the ocean...

Sigh.

20-2 Wabuka, Higashimuro-gun, Kushimoto-cho 649-3523, Wakayama Prefecture

Umeda Sky Building

This 40-storey building is probably Osaka's most recognisable landmark and also the most Instagrammable, because of...

The world's highest escalator.

Told you it was raining so much

At the top of the building there's the Floating Garden Observatory (1000yen admission fee, about S$13) but tbh, I think you can give that a miss and spend more time riding the escalators instead lol.

〒531-0076 1-1-88 Oyodo-naka,Kita-ku, Osaka

Osaka Sushi

Osaka-style sushi is slightly different from its Tokyo counterpart with the most famous being the Hakozushi or Box Sushi where sushi is pressed in a box and the ingredients are then placed on the top. I had a taste of it (along with the freshest uni of my LIFE) at Hanagatami at the Ritz-Carlton Osaka.

2-5-25 Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka 530-0001. Phone: +81 6 6343 7000

Dotonbori  

Every guidebook will tell you that Dōtonbori IS Osaka, and typing Osaka in Google will probably yield you results of the iconic crab sign and that of the Glico Man. I hate to sound like a grinch but I didn't like this tourist destination very much... cause it just felt very touristy. I think I saw more Singaporeans and PRCs than Japanese lol and the food felt like it was catered to tourists, with English menus and at tourist prices too lol.

We had yakiniku at Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M, Hozenji Yokocho which scored raving reviews all over TripAdvisor (and hence what made me decide NEVER to trust TripAdvisor again...)

The beef was good. It was a good meal but it expensive and lacked the oompness that I would get from my favourite hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Tokyo.

The only reason why I'm uploading the pictures is cause I don't want to waste Zach's marvellous edits ><

Osaka Castle

The Ōsaka-jō was built in 1583 so that makes it a good 400 years old :scream:

It's best visited during the cherry blossom season and in Autumn, where leaves turn the signature crimson, otherwise, it is ok to give it a miss in the other seasons. (The Kinkaku-ji in Kyoto might be more impressive.)

Be warned though, there are MANY birds which I am terrified of unlike my brave friend Zach over here.

Case in point about the birds :unamused:

When it rains, you just have to werk it.

Ramen in Japan

I love my Japanese food but ramen is something I generally don't go for in Japan cause I think what we get here in Singapore at Ippudo and Keisuke is already very good and the difference between what we get in Japan and here in Singapore is very minimal... so to maximise my meals (and limited stomach space), I usually skip the ramen when I'm there. Especially ichiran - it's good (but mostly cause TripAdvisor says so lol) and I honestly think not worth the queue.

This is also my bad blogger moment as I can't remember the name of this ramen place the boy tracked down cause unlike the traditional tonkotsu (or pork broth) ramen, they serve up a mean chicken broth and tsukemen - the dipping style ramen.

Googling "chicken ramen Osaka" and its other variants unfortunately did not yield me photos of the same bowl in the image results so erm... here's a list of The Top 5: Osaka's Best Ramen that looks pretty legit (and not TripAdvisor-ish lol) so with that I will leave you,

With a photo of my signature 吃面 face.

PS - I received several questions as to whether it's better to fly in to Osaka via Tokyo or to take the shinkansen bullet train. My personal preference is the train cause it takes you straight from one city centre to the other and the Kansai International Airport is actually pretty far from the Shin-Osaka area. HOWEVER, if your flight lands/ departs from Itami Airport, then it is much closer to the city centre. Also, the flight is only an hour as compared to the 4 hours on the train and with fuel prices these days, the cost of an domestic air ticket could possibly be less than the train ticket if you don't have the JR Pass (which is also what I strongly recommend for travelling in Japan if you plan to explore several cities!)

PPS - I don't hate TripAdvisor lol. I just think the reviews there tend to be really for the mainstream tourist and you guys know lah, I like to act hipster and pretend to be "insider" and all lol. My go-to guide now is actually Google Maps.

PPPS - Google Translate is amazing (nope, Google didn't pay me any shit for this post). They have this feature for certain languages that allows you to scan ANYTHING and they will automatically translate it to English - so yup, I was happily using it on menus, brochures and even shampoo bottles and the 1001 beauty products at the drugstores where I often go crazy at.