After my adventures in Hiroshima (広島), I was very fortunate and forever indebted to a friend and her family who let me stay at their home in Osaka (大阪). My friend went to high school in Madison, but was raised in Japan and moved back after high school. It was great to see a familiar face and her parents were so kind. It was also helpful being with them because they gave me PLENTY of advice on where to go! Their first advice was that I need to EAT! So, I did just that….
First, I ate an Ice Cream Hot Dog. I know it sounds disgusting, but it was really good. Hahaha. My other friend from Osaka accompanied me and she took me to a bunch of places with “Osakan” food. Well….I don’t necessarily think the Ice Cream Hot Dog is a traditional, but it’s a signature bizarre treat in this certain neighborhood of Osaka (大阪). The hot bun and the cold ice cream was a pleasant combination, believe it or not. I don’t have a picture of the inside of the shop, but it was run by a (maybe?) 60-year-old woman who was wearing clothes that a 20-year-old should have been wearing. The walls were decorated with pictures of her with boxers eating the Ice Cream Hot Dogs. It was kind of weird, but a good laugh.
Second, I had okonomiyaki (お好み焼き) again! My friend had told me that if I wanted real okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), I had to get it in Osaka (大阪), hahaha. It had a lot less cabbage than the Hiroshima okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), but this one was really big.
Third, we had chocolate cream puffs. It was like a dinner roll with gooey chocolate in the middle.
Fourth, we had Osaka-style takoyaki (たこ焼き). Unlike their counterpart in Tokyo (東京), this takoyaki (たこ焼き) does not have any of the toppings that accompany it. I guess I should first explain what takoyaki (たこ焼き) is . Takoyaki (たこ焼き) is balls of cooked batter with a piece of octopus in the middle. The process of making it is so cool, because the chefs have these little sticks that go lightening fast spinning all the little balls, so it gets cooked all the way through.
My friend and I ate all of this in a matter of about three hours. By this time my stomach was really hurting. It hurt to the point where I thought I was going to pass out. I got really “sick” and I magically felt better afterwards. Everything was delicious, but I don’t think I can keep up with my friend. She has an iron stomach.
The following day, I went to Osaka Castle (大阪城). I was impressed by the outside, despite it being a replica of the original. I love the history of the samurai class and the interior was full of samurai related history so it was definitely worth it. After seeing the castle, I met up with my friend again and we went out to an all-you-can-eat dessert bar. I know…..for someone who got sick the day before this would be absolutely stupid to do, but I didn’t care. I was on vacation and I like eating. Also, I like chocolate milk and I knew they were going to have it. Haha. Japan is famous for their all-you-can-eat places. For 2 hours of all-you-can-eat desserts, it was about $28. I didn’t think it was pricey at all, so we went for it. I ended up having a bunch of cakes, ice cream, pudding, and chocolate milk! They also had pasta. I don’t know why… but I ate it along with the desserts. Of course, my stomach started hurting really bad again and I thought I was going to pass out. We were about to cancel our plans to go to a huge aquarium, but I gained the courage to keep everything down! I was proud of myself!
So, we were off to Kaiyukan (海遊館) – the largest aquarium in the world! It was a massive building with eight floors of aquariums and HUGE fishes! Everyone takes these long escalators to the eighth floor and you work your way down through different types of environments to the first floor. It was cool seeing dolphins, penguins, and big stingrays in an indoor aquarium. My friend was speaking crazy-talk and had mentioned that it would be scary to have a large earthquake and the aquariums broke open. I walked a bit faster through the exhibits. I enjoyed the aquarium, so I would definitely recommend to anyone who visits Osaka (大阪).
My last day touring Osaka (大阪) was spent in Tsutenkaku (通天閣). I was told that it was a “shady” place, but compared to American cities it was extremely safe. I mean, I saw a lot of homeless people, but I can’t equate that to crime. I walked around the neighborhood a bit, but I was told by my friend’s parents that Spa World, which is in the center of Tsutenkaku (通天閣), is a must. Spa World is a huge onsen facility.
An onsen (温泉) is a traditional Japanese bath where everyone gets naked and you sit in a boiling pool that’s suppose to be relaxing. At Spa World, it has about 7 floors and two of the floors have various spa pools. The men’s section was the European floor this month. The women’s section was the Oriental floor. The European floor had about 4 pools and 4 saunas that reflected European styles of baths. At first, I was a bit hesitant about going to an onsen (温泉), because I didn’t want to get naked with everyone, that’s sick. However, I gained the courage and once I got to the locker room, I didn’t think it was that bad at all. In fact, it was kind of liberating (cliché) to be naked and in front of people. I know that sounds weird, but it’s the truth. Each of the pools and saunas were so relaxing. I guess the only part that put me off was that I was the only foreigner and a lot of people stared at me. I get stares when I’m clothed, but it seemed like it skyrocketed once I was in my birthday suit. I believe it was stares of curiosity, but it was a bit uncomfortable. It wasn’t going to ruin my relaxing, so I ignored it the best I coul
Osaka (大阪) was a great city. It had cheap and delicious food, a great spa, and interesting places. I think the most enjoyable part of being in Osaka (大阪) was that I got to spend it with my friend and her family. Also, her family was kind enough to let me stay a little longer, so I wouldn’t have to stay at another hostel in Kyoto (京都). I can’t thank them enough. Osaka (大阪) sight-seeing was done and I was off to Kyoto (京都).