Words can't describe the amount of food we indulged in in a short week in Tokyo and Osaka. We primarily travel to eat, then fit in anything else there is time for, which is why we decided to spend some time in Osaka before heading to Tokyo for Knot Fest. Osaka is arguably the food capital of Japan. Udon, Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki... Osaka specialties, to name a few.
After an extremely long travel day (20+ hours!), we naturally wanted to hit the sheets and sleep, but we just couldn't ignore the flashing lights in Shinsaibashi, vendors turning takoyaki balls by the hundreds, comically large crab and octopus sculptures, and the iconic Glico man; Shinsaibashi is Osaka's own Times Square.
We stayed at the Cross Hotel which I highly recommend. It's newly renovated (which is an unusual amenity in Japan for some reason), the lobby flows right onto the main stretch of Shinsaibashi, and was pretty affordable. Their in-room soaking tub was to die for!
Our good friend Tomoko kindly scooped us up before our heavy eyelids took over and helped us seek out Okonomiyaki and Yakisoba for our first feast. Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake of sorts. It literally translates to "cook or grill whatever you like." We ended up at Sanpei at Hozenji Yokocho. It was tiny, cozy, and absolutely delicious. We order yakisoba to start followed by three okonomiyaki. We didn't write down what we ordered and we were in a travel fog, but I know our favorite was kimchi and pork.
In true Matthew form, he just couldn't go to bed without stuffing himself to the brim. So we stopped at a gyoza shop for him to top off.
The next morning I knew the first thing I wanted to hit was another Osaka specialty, and my favorite noodle, Udon. I have to admit that it's incredibly challenging to get around Japanese cities via google maps. Addresses are impossible to spot and often times, you have to be looking up! We wandered aimlessly within 1 block of Kawafuku until we finally realized we had walked passed it a few times. We entered a tiny shop with a few seats at the bar. We slurped our udon with a row of businessmen.
We then wandered the streets of Osaka to check out shops. I learned quickly that asking for an American size 10 shoe at Doc Martens was absurd, shops filled with all things American in Americamura are a hot topic in Japan, vintage shops in Osaka have the absolute BEST vintage band shirts, and traveling with two musicians means you will hit any and every guitar shop. Matthew found his guitar and signed a few things for one of the shops.
As if 20+ hours of travel and jet lag wasn't enough, I decided to get tattooed at the legendary Chopstick Tattoo within 18 hours of hitting the ground in Osaka. I've had a bit of an unlucky year and also wanted to get a travel token tattoo, so I sought out the incredibly talented Kyon at Chopstick to create a maneki-neko (lucky cat) for me. The story of the maneki-neko originated in Osaka, so I thought it was a perfect fit for my souvenir. You can check out the variety of stories surrounding the meaning. I was a little nervous to get tattooed in a foreign country considering the language barrier, however, Kyon interpreted my emails well and created something absolutely perfect for me with almost no direction! I was also hilariously way too tall for the tattoo table (I'm tall, even for American standards), so I was less comfortable than I'd like to be, but thankfully, it was a quick hour and a half.
Seems like a lot to do in one day? Nonsense, we still had a lot of hours to go! Our friend Yoko from the also legendary Rock Rock Bar met up with us to take to a well-known restaurant for a bite to eat before heading to the bar. We stopped at Ajiho in Shinsaibashi and indulged in a few mugs of beer, takoyaki, oden, and yakisoba. Oden is a Japanese winter dish that consists of vegetables, fish cakes, and other items stewed in a savory-sweet soy broth. Even 7-11 in Japan has pots of stewing oden available near the counter for a bowl of super cheap winter soul food. It sort of reminds me of the potatoes and carrots from stewed pot roast, but with a soy-based twist.
We then headed over to Rock Rock Bar for a few beers before we called it a night. By 10pm, all three of us could hardly keep our eyes open and were ready to rest up for another day of feasting and adventures.
2-5-15 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0085, Japan
1-14-17 Higashishinsaibashi chuo-ku Osaka-shi Osaka
2-2-15 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
Chopstick Tattoo, 1st Shop, AmericaMura
Down Town Building, 3F, Nishi Shinsaibashi 2-17-9, Chuo-ku, Osaka
2-2-10 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, Japan