If there’s one thing I wish we had done better on this trip, it’s Osaka. Like every other city in Japan, there is SO much to see, do, and eat, and one day obviously isn’t enough.
It took almost 2 hours to get from Himeji to Osaka, so our first stop was to check into our Airbnb. This was one of the worst Airbnbs that we stayed in during our trip – stocked with uncomfortable futons and a terrible wi-fi connection.
We were pretty hungry, and after doing some research on some of our favorite travel blogs, decided that we were going to try pizza. Pizza? In Osaka? Looking back, I don’t know what we were thinking, but at the time, we felt like it was the greatest idea we’d had all year. American food is something we crave pretty regularly, and we knew we’d definitely be able to find something like pizza in a bigger city.
No sharing for you!
So we left the apartment with high hopes, and began our search. We had a few places marked on Google Maps, and right before we stopped at a little joint called I Love Pizza, an Indian restaurant caught our eye. There’s only one cuisine we were craving more than American, and that was Indian. We figured that we’d be able to get more food for our money, so we decided to put a hold on the pizza situation, and ducked into this dimly lit place thinking about the naan and curry we were about to eat.
This is where the disappointment started.
We knew we’d have to spend a little bit of cash at this place, but after looking at the menu (much pricier than we expected), we thought we could simply share one platter instead of putting out 5000 yen for two. As we sipped our water and used our lukewarm hand towels, the waiter kindly told us that wasn’t allowed.
One platter, one person.
So we did what any other budget traveler would do in this situation….and we left.
I Love Pizza, it would be.
I Love Pizza:
We stepped into what seemed like a storefront, but actually turned out to be a two story restaurant with sticky tables and high bar stools smushed close together. They told us we could sit wherever, so we headed up the stairs to the top floor.
What had drawn us to this place was their advertisement for 500 yen pizzas, so we picked out what we wanted and tried to order. Unfortunately, I Love Pizza turned out to be a bar/izakaya, and they told us if we wanted to order food, we also had to order drinks. Even though we’re not drinkers (I’m talking like maybe two drinks a year), we were too hungry to put up a fight, and gave in to this frustrating rule.
The margherita pizzas that we ordered turned out to be smaller than the personal pizzas you find in the US, and had maybe two pieces of basil on them, each. I don’t remember what drinks we ordered, but they were also small and overpriced.
Not only that, but three people decided to squish themselves right next to us, and started smoking.
We left hungry and ¥2000 poorer.
From here, we headed over to Dotonbori, Osaka’s Time Square-esque district. As we got closer, we were bombarded with bright lights, music, and people in Disney character onesies.
Our stomachs grumbled as we passed by the countless restaurants on the strip, so we decided to find some takoyaki (grilled octopus balls). The batter is put into round moulds, and then grilled until it’s hard on the outside and still gooey on the inside. The octopus balls are topped with benito and seaweed flakes, and brushed with mayo and a special takoyaki sauce. This was actually the first time we tried takoyaki, and we were pleasantly surprised.
Dotonbori was also where we discovered melonpan (メロンパン) ice cream. Despite its name, melonpan is a sweet bread that doesn’t taste like a melon, but kind of looks like one. The inside is soft and sweet, and the top is a layer of crispy dough.
The food truck that we found boasted that they sold the “second delicious melonpan ice cream in the world!” and stuffed their melonpan with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. We can’t attest to whether or not their claim is true, but it was pretty stinking delicious, and reminded us of a crispy sugar cookie.
Umeda Sky Building:
Flash forward a few days, and we were in Osaka again for half a day before heading back to Fukushima the next morning. Once again, we didn’t have too much time to spend in the city, so we decided to check out one of the most popular sites – the Umeda Sky Building.
Also known as the New Umeda City, this structure connects two 173 meter towers with a floating observatory on the highest level. It has the highest escalators in the world, and is overall, just a really unique looking structure. We’ve been to a lot of different towers and observatories, and we thought we’d add this one to our list.
On the escalator, you get a pretty awesome view of the city, and we joked that we didn’t even need to go all the way up. But of course, we did.
At the top is the “floating garden observatory,” which is a complete misnomer because there was no garden. It was basically just an observation deck, and gave a 360 view of Osaka. In the middle of the deck, we could look down and see just how far we had come on those escalators.
Compared to other towers/observatories, the Umeda Sky Building ranks extremely high. It might just be the best city view we’ve seen so far.
Overall, our consensus was: IT’S TOTALLY WORTH IT & IT WAS AWESOME.
A Piece of Peru in Osaka:
That night, we still weren’t in the mood for Japanese food, but went out in search of tacos…or something like it. We ended up discovering this place called Los Inkas, a restaurant that served Mexican and Peruvian food.
We LOVE Peruvian food, and were happy to find that this was a legitimate place. The owner was from Cusco, and cooked us lomo saltado, arroz con pollo, and nachos.
Unlike the abomination that was the pizza, this was an extremely nice surprise in the middle of a Japanese city. If you’re ever in Osaka and craving Mexican/Peruvian food, GO HERE. You won’t regret it.
And with that, we bid Osaka farewell. We didn’t even put a dent into what Osaka has, and would love to visit again!
If you’ve been to Osaka, what are some things you would recommend to future travelers?
Umeda Sky Building:
|1000 yen||10:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.|
No closing days!
Hours: 5 p.m. – after midnight
Address: 1-14 Doyamacho, Kita Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 530-0027