Located in the Kansai region of Japan, a short train ride from Kyoto, Osaka is well-known for its street food and nightlife. It’s a bustling city with plenty to see and do.
We first visited Osaka in October of 2015. It was the first city we visited in Japan and somewhere I definitely want to return to. The visit was short and sweet and somewhat effected by our hazy jetlagged state.
We flew into Osaka from Heathrow with a short stop in Schipol airport which involved us running to our gate (that place is huge!). Once we got to Osaka we picked up our Japan Wireless pocket wifi, which we ordered a couple of months before leaving and was really useful to have, then we got on our train into the centre of Osaka.
We stayed in an apartment in the Dotonbori area, about 10 minutes from the main shopping area.
Day 1 – Arriving in Osaka
Once we had dropped our luggage at our Airbnb, we headed out into the centre of Dotonbori in search of food.
Dotonbori is the entertainment district of Osaka and full of restaurants and bars with big neon lights, signs and the famous Glico man billboard. A canal runs through the middle of everything, with boats full of tourists travelling up and down.
One of Osaka’s most famous foods is Okonomiyaki (and also Takoyaki which we ate later on in the trip). Okonomiyaki is a savoury pancake usually filled or topped with a variety of ingredients like seafood, pork, vegetables and cheese. It’s usually cooked on a hot plate, either in front of you by a server or you do it yourself.
We decided to go into one of the Okonomiyaki restaurants along the canal. It was in the basement of a building and had a nice authentic and friendly feel. Incredibly hungry and jetlagged, we chose the standard pork okonomiyaki to share (I’ve actually posted a recipe inspired by this).
After filling ourselves up with Okonomiyaki and Japanese beer, we sleepily stumbled back to our apartment to ‘have a quick rest’ which of course turned into a full nights sleep!
Day 2 – The Castle & a Tea Ceremony
Jetlag meant that our second day in Osaka started pretty early and our plan for the day was to walk to Osaka castle. It was a 30-minute walk away and luckily the weather was warm and sunny.
The castle is located in Osaka Castle Park, a two-kilometre green space with not only the castle, but gardens and food and souvenir stalls. It costs ¥600 for entry to the castle itself. Once inside you’re taken up each floor which includes exhibition and pieces from the history of the castle, like samurai armour and models of the castle through the ages. Once at the top you have an amazing view over Osaka which is great for photos.
Once we were out of the castle, we were approached by two women offering a free tea ceremony. Out of politeness, we couldn’t really say no, as they were really welcoming and friendly. They even bought us a shaved ice cone each. Once at their temple we were given gifts of Buddhist prayer beads, a book and a little pouch to keep them in. We had a sermon dedicated to us (we had to sit in front of the whole congregation!) and then the priest’s wife showed us how to make Japanese tea. After all this, they took us to the train station, paid for our train tickets and gave us loads of information about things to do in Osaka!
I would definitely recommend a tea ceremony whilst in Japan. You probably won’t be as lucky as us and get a free one, but they are a really great experience!
Once out of the tea ceremony we took a train to another famous area of Osaka, Umeda.
Umeda is Osaka’s business district and compromises of Osaka’s main train station, shopping malls, department stores, restaurants and hotels, as well as many more.
Most of Japan’s train stations are huge and have shopping malls and restaurants inside. Osaka station is no different, so once there we searched for a restaurant to get a late lunch.
We settled on a ramen and gyoza restaurant. A small stall where you sit at the counter on stools. The ramen was covered in slices of succulent pork and the gyoza were crispy and tasty.
After a wander around Umeda, we headed back to our apartment to get ready for dinner. This would be our last evening in Osaka so we wanted to find somewhere good to eat.
On the back streets of Dotonburi, we found a restaurant that did set meals consisting of sashimi and hot pots which all sounded amazing. The meal really didn’t disappoint!
The next morning we packed our stuff and left the apartment and headed towards our next stop, which was Mount Koya. You can read my Mount Koya post here.
What’s your favourite Japanese food?