Running for fame since 1935.
Osaka – 2017
The last stop on my Japan itinerary is Osaka with a day trip to Nara. We didn’t expect much of Osaka to be completely honest, the feedback we got from most people before we went was that there wasn’t much to do. Sometimes though, you have to experience things for yourself to make your own opinion, and we actually very much enjoyed our time in the Osaka area!
Brace yourself! This post is a long one but I just couldn’t select the pictures! I was so happy with most of them I wanted to share them all!
We arrived in Osaka from Hiroshima mid-morning and dropped our luggage in one of the station’s lockers as it was a little too early to check-in at our Airbnb. Once our luggage stored in a safe place, we headed to the top of the station for an unspoiled view of the Umeda building.
After a quick lunch, we then headed to Osaka castle. A beautiful monument from the 16th century, which (fun fact), like many other Japanese landmarks, burnt and was rebuilt a couple of times.
The grounds of the castle are absolutely beautiful too and very much worth visiting.
Make sure to take a moment to reflect at Hōkoku Shrine and relax in the sun in the plum grove.
After an afternoon of contemplation, we headed to our Airbnb to check-in and out to explore Osaka city centre. One thing we didn’t expect is how lively and busy Osaka is. If you are looking to go out and have some fun, Dotonbori is definitely the place!
That is where you will also find the famous Glico Man.
We explored the area for a while and took a little bit of time to appreciate the rather creative shop signs before finding a place for dinner. I highly recommend Tsurugyu where we had the some of the best wagyu beef we ever had!
A day trip to Nara is a must on any Japan first-timer’s itinerary! The place is absolutely gorgeous and will give you a welcome break from the city. There are two ways to fit Nara on your itinerary, you can either go from Osaka (about 45 minutes on the train) or from Kyoto (about 35 minutes on the express train).
On our arrival in Nara, we were greeted by greedy furry friends, like on Miyajima island, deer made Nara very much their home.
We decided to visit Nara by doing a big loop around the park, entering next to the prefectural building where we saw the last signs of the Cherry Blossom.
We then headed to Nandaimon gate, the very impressive gate to Tōdai-Ji shrine. The pictures don’t do it justice and the structure is truly gigantic in real life.
We then headed toward Tōdai-Ji main building.
The place was extremely busy and a lot of Japanese people were wearing their beautiful traditional outfits in honour of the Golden Week.
Inside Tōdai-Ji you will find the giant Buddha, which is, well… giant!
Take a little moment to watch people pray, draw and follow various traditions.
Once outside Tōdai-Ji, we headed toward the west of the park to quieter alleyways where we visited various shrines before stopping for a picnic.
As I mentioned in previous posts, we missed Japan Cherry Blossom by ten days. What we didn’t miss on the other hand is wisteria season, and there is no better place than Kasuga Taisha to see it.
A purple ceiling surrounded by the brightest red walls.
We then headed back toward the station with a last swing to the tall, dark and handsome pagoda.
Oh! One last tip before you go! Make sure to head to the top of Nara’s prefectural office for unspoiled panoramic views of the park!
We ran into a few last furry friends bending to say goodbye (you read that right, deer in Japan have learned to bend like humans) before heading back to Osaka for the night.
Another Japan video is live!
After our 2 days in Hiroshima, or next stop was Osaka where we spent 2 days as well. There are not many things to do in Osaka, so a day to explore the city centre is enough. You will see in the video below that we spent the first day exploring Osaka Castle and Dontobori, the city centre where you will find the famous Ebisu Bridge and the Glico Man sign.
On the second day, we headed out of the city to Nara, a public park famous for its huge temples and its roaming deer. We spent the day exploring the grounds and making new furry friends.
I will go into more details on all our Japan itinerary in a series of posts coming soon, in the meantime, if you want to see more of our Japan trip, have a look at my Kyoto video and the Hiroshima one. Next stop, Tokyo! Chances are this video will be at least an hour long as I have sooooo much to show you!
Spoiler alert! This was by far the best beef we had during our entire trip in Japan. Starting with a pretty major statement but I truly mean it! If you are going to only eat wagyu beef once, eat it at Tsurugyu!
Now let me introduce you to the place itself, Tsurugyu is a Kobe beef restaurant just outside Osaka city centre. From the street it doesn’t look like anything special, and the avenue it is on is actually dead quiet during the day which makes it a bit difficult to find at first.
Get inside and you are entering a dark and elegant little cocoon. The place feels special with all tables sheltered by curtains giving it a lot of privacy. George Clooney could be at the table next to you and you wouldn’t even know it.
It is good to note that you will need a reservation to eat at Tsurugyu. It is a very popular place. Not speaking Japanese? Don’t worry, just swing by and ask if they can book a table for you. We went one morning there and asked if they had availability on the same evening, which luckily they did!
Our waiter deserves a special mention too. He was hilariously patronising but in the nicest possible way. He must have thought “Those Europeans have absolutely no clue what they are doing!” and spent most of the evening showing us how to eat each ingredient properly. We felt like primary school students but also learned a lot about Japanese table manners.
Now let’s talk about the best part – the food! I could literally just tell you that it was epic and leave it there with a few snaps, but it was such an excellent meal that it deserves a few more words before I leave you drooling at the pictures (well except if you are vegetarian, look away now).
Once sat at the table, the waiter got the grill ready while we were deciding which cut of beef to go for. We ordered two different types of beef, both not too fatty as I am more of a lean cut type of person.
With the meat, we ordered a side of kimchi, which I am completely obsessed about by the way, since I learned that it is good for your guts health.
We also ordered the cold noodles as per our waiter recommendation. I would describe it as a very cold and very light ramen. Worth a try!
We then got busy cooking and grilling!
And following our teacher… I mean, our waiter’s instructions we dressed our plates as Japanese people would do. Meat at the bottom and the various sauces and salts at the top but never mixed together!
There is not much more I can say than: “YOU NEEEEEEEED TO GO EAT AT TSURUGYU!”
I am back beautiful people!
Landed yesterday evening in London after 2 amazing weeks in the land of the Rising Sun.
Japan was beautiful! I loved every minute of it and I am having a serious case of holiday blues as I type this post at 5 am (jet lag!) on this rainy morning day in London.
I will share all my addresses and recommendations on the blog, and maybe a video or two! I have so much content though, it may take me a little while to go through it all, so in the meantime here are some Japan highlights taken on my good old iPhone 6s.
Glad to be back and see you very soon for more!