Osaka

Osaka Castle

With Kyoto checked off, it was time to explore Osaka. We were staying at a fifties-themed inn, which offered yukata among its otherwise modern amenities, and was closer to the business-y stuff more than the tourist-y stuff.

Straight out of the camera and onto Flickr: View the whole album here.

Getting our bearings

Food + Safety: Japan is notoriously expensive, so our meals were dominated by convenience store food. This would be a questionable choice anywhere else, but not here. Well-packaged, appetizing, visually appealing, lots of choices, and even healthy. And when people enter such establishments, their pets are perfectly content to be leashed and waiting outside.

Osaka

Behavior + Weather: Face masks are a common sight and you learn it’s part of their culture of being considerate to others: if you felt under the weather at all, you didn’t want people around you to catch it too. Plus it’s quite useful to cover your face during colder temperatures and block that wind chill. The other way to combat the cold is to have ice cream—which we didn’t dare try.

Transport: Even the ordinary, day-to-day activity of riding public transport felt like a special experience you visited Japan for, because they’re great with trains. Stations are massive and filled with shops, and you wonder why your country keeps building mall after mall when it could be like that instead.

Osaka Station

Osaka Station

Umeda Sky Building

Once it got dark, sometimes rainy, it was just too cold and windy to be adventurous. It was a treat to see Umeda Sky’s unique architecture, interesting exhibits, and the city view from its 173-meter elevation and floating observatory—but it was also a struggle: not the best weather for a roof deck that got slippery and prohibits umbrellas.

Umeda Sky Building

Umeda Sky Building

View from Rooftop Floor, Umeda Sky Building

Osaka Castle

Stepping out of the nearest station, Temmabashi, we found the Okawa river. It could’ve easily been another item on the itinerary (maybe a boat ride, picnic, and such), but our main target was still several blocks away.

Okawa River, Osaka

And since it’s a castle, that means getting from the outermost to the innermost area also took significant time on foot. Maybe looking at cherry blossoms (sakura hanami) was distracting and delightful enough of a process?

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle

Other highlights in the area were: a busker doing stunts for a sizable crowd and a time capsule from Expo ’70.

National Bunraku Theatre

Bunraku is a traditional form of puppet theater, usually performed along with a chanter/singer and a shamisen player. Didn’t catch a show unfortunately; only got as far as the exhibits in the lobby.

National Bunraku Theatre

National Bunraku Theatre

National Bunraku Theatre

Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi, & Nipponbashi

Of course, you had to stop by the food and shopping districts for quintessential Osaka experience. Saw the Glico guy and the 3-dimensional mechanized signs; set foot in my first Uniqlo, H&M, and Apple stores; absorbed every other flashy thing begging for your attention.

Kani Doraku crab signage, Doutonbori

Doutonbori

Atariya, Shinsaibashi-suji

Dining in Doutonbori

Dining in Doutonbori

Ja mata ne

As a parting shot, perhaps one of the best ways to sum up Osaka would be this maintenance hole cover. City branding, meticulous illustration, multiple paint colors, thoughtfully maintained. On a lowly, overlooked object.

It has no business being this aesthetically pleasing, but that’s Japan for ya.

Colored manhole cover, Doutonbori

See all photos here.

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