Another picture-heavy post.

National Geographic’s guide to Japan disappointed me a bit when it had exactly three pages out of its hefty 399-page guide to Japan dedicated to Osaka. There were some pictures, but it listed a couple tourist sites to go to and that’s all.  To me it seems that the best kind of guide would be one that tells you all kinds of things to do, no matter where you are. This is what the guide had to say about Osaka:

“Although it caters to special interests with industrial tours, Osaka is no destination for sightseeing. Its monotony is broken by a network of canals, but it is mainly a hideous concrete agglomeration with a reputation for being driven, hectic, polluted, and crowded. This said, Osaka is a boisterous city of sybarites, with some of Japan’s best nightlife – and widest spectrum of fine food.”

It sounds like the writer wanted to sound smart and barely visited the actual city. I can’t say I’m an expert on it as well, but someone could say that about New York City and people would protest loudly. There are always interesting places everywhere. I personally found Osaka’s clean ocean breezes far less polluted than Hirakata City.

Anyway, as I wrote in a previous post, I planned with Ami to go to Osaka last Saturday. My roommate tagged along, and we had a fun time. Kaiyukan Aquarium is right next to a large ferris wheel, and a playful open area filled with entertainers. Osaka doesn’t just have a reputation for being filled with shrewd businessmen, but also with easygoing, friendly people – along with many different kinds of entertainers.

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The ferris wheel and below, the outside of the aquarium.

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We actually purchased something Ami found out about – a day pass. We were going to be going around Osaka a bit, using the trains, and she found out that we could prepay for a ticket/pass, which would work for the entire day, no matter how far we went. In the end, we payed Y500 for transportation, when we would have actually paid for more.

We stepped into the aquarium, and had a blast.

 

 

 

These were signs at each specific exhibit. I’m fairly sure they had something to do with children’s programs, but they were cute.

 

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We got to see the baby otters, but exactly at that moment my batteries failed and I had to change them. They were in an enclosure, and people pressed in from all sides to see. It was difficult to get out, but they were very cute. Ami was able to get pictures and a video, which I’ll include in a later post.

After the aquarium, we ate at what could best be described as a very American Japanese restaurant, because my roommate is a very picky eater at home, and more so here. She had pizza, and I had a “chicken steak”, which was quite obviously made with real chicken. It was served, still sizzling, on a metal plate – very nice. Ami had roe spaghetti, or spaghetti with fish eggs. (Spaghetti with fish eggs was actually the first meal I had with my Japanese host family when I came to Japan in 2005.)

After that, we took a train to Namba, an extremely popular district of Osaka, criss-crossed with canals and neon lights. This area is famous for its cheap, good food, and we walked around a bit to fuel our hunger. We also went to a bookstore, where my roommate got a lot more manga. There were so many sights to be seen!

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That’s Ami on the bottom left.

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Ami told me that the clown man at the top is one of the famous symbols of Osaka.

 

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The famous clown again.

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A betting spot, think. On horse racing. It was a very fancy building.

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Ami wanted to take me to a Taisho-era shopping center and to this manzai museum, but both of them were closed due to lack of interest. After working up an appetite, we went to find one of Ami’s favorite dishes: takoyaki. “The best takoyaki stands are the ones with long lines at them,” she told us, and took us to her favorite, a stand that makes, according to her knowledge, the best takoyaki in all of Osaka. Osaka is the originator of this food, which can now be found all over Japan. Takoyaki is like a dumpling, wrapped around pieces of octopus, especially ironic because we had just watched octopi in action at the aquarium. I had no qualms on trying it, especially because I’ve tried whole bunches of other stuff. My roommate refused to have any, so this is the gorgeous meal (mine is on the left:)

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It was absolutely delicious. I loved the octopus – it had a great texture. And the “secret sauce”, similar to barbeque sauce, was absolutely superb. Those aren’t full-sized chopsticks stuck there, but rather very small ones. And this is the stand that made the takoyaki, right in front of you. See the long line?

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Afterwards, we walked around some more, looking at all of the bright lights. The sun sets really early here, about 5:30.

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My roommate was tired, so we headed home afterwards. I had a good time, and I’ll be going to Osaka again on Saturday, as part of a field trip to the Osaka Peace Museum. Osaka is definitely a very different experience! It’s so important here to be open to trying new things, new places. Otherwise you don’t experience what the country is like.

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