[Blogmas] Day 21: A Trip to Osaka, Japan – 15/12/17

The first couple of day’s of our trip to Osaka had required alot of walking, switching back and forth between modes of transport and early morning starts; so we decided to sleep until almost midday. Shortly after waking we took things easy by completing our blog and YouTube tasks before heading out to Namba during the early afternoon.

Namba is the host area to several tourist destinations including Shinsaibashi: the shopping area which I went to the day before. First attraction on our agenda: seeing the ‘running man’ – You may have seen this somewhere on social media. The ‘running man’ is a large, lit Glico avertisement amongst many other captivating unmissable signs. The name of the area in which the ‘running man’ is situated is Dontombori. In a way it is an outdoor section popular for taking selfies with the lights in the background whilst serving as a link between Shinsaibashi and Ebisubashi: an area also consisting of a variety of shops, restaurants and cafés though it is moreso associated with a bridge that crosses over the river. The bridge was originally constructed to provide easy access to near distance Ebisu Shrine.

For an hour or so we browsed the shops of Shinsaibashi as we hadn’t really entered any shops there on the previous day, rather just passed though. If you want to buy gifts for people snacks will be much appreciated and won’t break your budget. I suggest simply going to the drugstore style stores. They sell everything from the increasing famous Matcha KitKats to heated eye masks. On average Japanese jelly/gummy sweets are priced at around £2.50 or less. Konjac jelly cups with fruit flavouring sell like hotcakes, infact I brought 3 packets of these. Supermarkets in Japan sell more diverse snacks, just make sure to use a currency exchanging app to ensure that you aren’t over spending per item.
I came across plenty of clothing stores which had discounted items; if you love earrings and other accessories Japan will be like Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory. I brought a skirt and a pair of three-quarter length trousers both in a brown and grey tweed pattern; I would like to show you but truth be told I have been to lazy to wash and iron them as of yet. I apologise.

We weren’t meeting our friends until around 7 or 8pm, so we used the afternoon as an opportunity to try a third dish associated with Osaka: Okonomiyaki. If I have to compare Okonomiyaki to a European/Western cuisine I would say it is most comparable to Frittata, or savoury pancake. Traditionally the batter is made from a combination of the following ingredients: flour, nagaimo (a type of yam), water or dashi (- a Japanese soup base/stock), eggs, shredded cabbage and green onions. By choice meats, seafood and vegetables are added to rest on top of the batter, some common selections are thin slices of pork belly, shrimp, octopus, squid, konjac (a root vegetable) and mochi (rice cake). Okonomiyaki is usually a ‘do-it-yourself’ style of cooking on hotplates which are fixtures of the table in which you eat the dish; and garnished in the same way as Takoyaki. I found that adding a sprinkle of chilli power to the dish was much more satisfying that overloading it with additional sauce.

You can enjoy Okonomiyaki by slicing it into pizza sections similar to that of a pizza: a spatula is provided for doing this. I’m not fantastically confident with using chopsticks though I am fairly competent with using metal chopsticks. For those who don’t know, in Japan only wooden chopsticks are used so I had a little difficulty with keeping a firm grip on them in order to eat faster than a tortoise.

By this stage we had already run out of ideas of places in which we could tour, everywhere started to feel very familiar with street after street of shops and enticing foods. We considered going to Tenoji Zoo, however we found out via the Internet that it would close within a few hours of our arrival. After all we decided not to overly worry about the time of day and went to Osaka Aquarium around 5pm. It turned out to be the best time of day to experience the Aquarium as a light display leading toward the Aquarium illuminated our pathway despite the darkening sky. I haven’t been to many Aquariums, so this one in particular was amazingly better than I initially anticipated. There were dolphins, seals, penguins, the largest sharks that were so intimating, and very large rays. I didn’t expect Aquariums to have the rights to home such large exotic marine life. I also touch a ray! (With permission of course).

Finally we closed the day with a meal with our friends at a tempura restaurant located in the Umeda Sky Building. I choose a set meal which provided a mixture of fried vegetables and seafood; the pumpkin and lotus root in my opinion were the best out of the selection. Steamed rice, miso soup and soy sauce as usual came with this set. We were enjoying ourselves so much that we almost missed the last train back to the station near our Airbnb! Word of advice: never use a taxi in Osaka! It will cost you a fortunate, so much so that you could have no spending money remaining for your leisure.

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