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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Osaka

Friday, April 17, 2015

Osaka, Japan - 2015

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 17/04/2015 02:16:16

We arrived quite late in Osaka, and we still wanted to grab some food and check out the city before the night was through - so we were in a bit of a hurry. My plans indicated that we were to walk through the underground malls from Osaka train station for 5 minutes until we got close to our hotel. Turns out this was easier said than done - the subway system is a complete maze. It was almost like there was a second city under Osaka station - one which Google's Street View hasn't completely mapped yet.

No Rocket Clock
The Osaka Water Clock was listed in a 7 most amazing clocks article I read during my reasearch. Then again, Prague's Astrological Clock made the list but Play School's rocket clock did not - so clearly they are not very good at making lists

After getting lost a few times (and grumpy at each other) we finally found the exit we were after and walked to our hotel (which seemed to be right in the middle of the dodgy part of town). We checked in and quickly made our way back through the subway to get down to the Dotonbori area for dinner. Wanting to try the Osaka-style of okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes) I did my research and selected a well-reviewed option in the area. We made it down there and stood in the long queue - five minutes later someone from the store came out and indicated that the customer 5 people ahead of us in the line would be the last person served that day before closing. I was disheartened as we only had two dinner times scheduled for Osaka. Fortunately I had made backup okonomiyaki plans for just such an occurrence, and we walked over to the backup restaurant and had us some delicious pancakes anyway.

Scientology Free
Japanese pancakes now rank way up there for me - along with Cheese and Potato (with bacon bits) and Canadian's Breakfast

After dinner we strolled through the Dotonbori district as I got my pretty light fix. Night time looked fantastic around the district, but most of the signs look pretty cool during the day as well - with huge moving crabs, puffer fish and giant hand holding some fish. While the atmosphere was pretty cool - there was also a slightly dodgy feel to it all. I have always felt safe in Japan, but this was the closest I got to thinking I needed to be on my guard.

Run Run Run
This is the famous Glico running man. He's quite striking - but I'm not sure why this is the best-known example of the Dotonbori signs

Worthy of his fame, this animated crab's legs would bend forwards and backwards - imitating the movements that could be watched while the crab is being cooked for eating

Poor Octopus
This octopus seems far too keen about the cooking and eating of octopus balls

Before heading back we watched this very skilled guy making octopus balls while shouting something to the crowd and the staff in the restaurant...

Ok Balls
... I have no idea what was going on - but the food he created was pretty tasty!

Having already covered the Kabuki in Tokyo, Osaka was a chance for us to sample Bunraku - or the art of puppetry. Bunraku plays are actually from where a lot of the Kabuki stories came - and we were really lucky to be able to watch a single act at the National Bunraku Theatre. Even more fortunately, the part we could see was one involving a cheeky monkey - so the story seemed to be catered directly to my interests. The monkey was indeed cheeky, and the play was quite enjoyable. One aspect I found interesting was that the main performers of the puppets (controlling the head and left hand) made no effort to hide themselves, while the helpers that operated the legs and right arm would be covered head-to-toe in black clothing, ninja-style.

Puppet Theatre
Again we were unable to take photos inside the theatre - so here's the outside

After the Bunraku we headed to the Tsutenkaku district, which is basically the area around a big tower. The tower was built to enliven the area - and I've got to assume that it didn't work - the whole place seemed - again - a little dodgy. We had a quick look through a toy store and there was a film of dust on most of the items a few millimeters thick.

Looks Better Than It Is
You can just make out a gold baby thing in the bottom left of this photo, they were everywhere and reminded me of Aphex Twin

One thing that the Tsutenkaku district was known for was kushikatsu - kind of like tempura but with breadcrumbs in the batter and a slightly different sauce. My daily planner told us to go to Yaekatsu, which had a long line in front when similar-looking store very nearby had little or no lines at all. We stuck to the plans and I'm happy we waited - as the food was amazing and we ate far too much of it.

Defeated Foes
You can tell that we have only just started dinner here - as the discarded stick container is hardly full at all

Osaka castle is not something that I particularly had a great urge to visit, but it made its way onto our list of things to do. Fortunately the day we decided to go was beautiful weather-wise - unfortunately this meant the castle and surrounding area was packed with picnicers. After a quick tour of the castle (and putting our shoes back onto our now-frozen feet) we headed to Sakuramiya on the advice of a friend and it was equally lovely (but without a castle). After seeing more blossoms that a 14-year-old with the hots for Mayim Bialik, we headed on to Kobe to catchup with my Australian friend.

The serene view of this photo does not show the elbows required to get to the front of the bridge to take the shot

The outside of the castle, of course no photography was allowed. Apparently the Japanese that Godzilla is powered by the taking of photographs in interesting locations

I'm not sure if that water would ever get warm enough to justify swimming

Blossom Sky

This is the 13th in the Super Fun Chronological Japan Travel Catalogue series
GET 1 - Nikko, Japan - 2015GET 2 - Ueno (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 3 - Akihabara (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 4 - Ginza (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 5 - Asakusa (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 6 - Shinjuku (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 7 - Harajuku (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 8 - Shibuya (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 9 - Odaiba (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 10 - Kawaguchiko (Five Lakes), Japan - 2015GET 11 - Yokohama, Japan - 2015GET 12 - Kamakura, Japan - 2015GET 13 - Osaka, Japan - 2015GET 14 - Kobe, Japan - 2015GET 15 - Hiroshima, Japan - 2015GET 16 - Himeji & Nara, Japan - 2015GET 17 - Kyoto, Japan - 2015GET 18 - Iga, Japan - 2015GET 19 - Nagoya, Japan - 2015GET 20 - Takayama & Gero, Japan - 2015GET 21 - Sakura & Bonus Wrap-up, Japan - 2015

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