With our tight schedule, we only had one full day to explore Osaka, our first stop in Japan. We began our day by visiting the ever-popular “Mr. Donuts” chain for a quick donut, but decided to save our yen by skipping the restaurant’s three dollar coffee, and buying a one dollar hot canned coffee from a street-side vending machine instead. More on these later…
Now caffeinated, we took the subway to Osaka-jo, the famous castle in the middle of the city and Japan’s most visited sight. Here we wandered the grounds with a few other tourists and school groups.
However, before we knew it, the US military police had stormed in with a recruiting bus.
After talking to one of the personnel, we learned that a TV drama was being filmed here. Too bad they didn’t need any extras!
After the castle, we wandered along the river and then went to “City Mall”, a large shopping mall nearby and headed for the restaurant floor at the top of the building. Here we found a nice sushi restaurant with a good lunch deal that included sushi, miso soup, and tempura.
After a brief break back at the hostel, we headed out to Dotombori, a popular entertainment district in Osaka. This neighborhood is packed with restaurants, bars, shops, and most strikingly, large neon signs:
Abby in front of the famous neon Glico sign
In this neighborhood, we headed to Dotombori Gokuraku Shotengai, (also known as the Osaka Food Theme Park) a restaurant complex recommended by our guidebook. This food center occupies the top three floors of a building in the center of the neighborhood, with an early-1900’s theme and over fifty restaurants, many featuring Osaka specialties. Here we found a restaurant serving okonomiyaki, one of these specialties, which is a large grilled meat and vegetables pancake. First cooked by the chef, it was then transferred to a grill in the middle of our table where we further cooked it to our liking.
By the time we finished the okonomiyaki, we were beat. We wandered the streets a little more, then headed back to our cozy hostel.