Recent Trips

OSAKA: Food + City Highlights

Japan was one of the countries I've always wanted to visit, and it still continues to be one I'd like to visit again. This year, I got the chance to visit Osaka (as well as Kyoto and Nara) - good news is that it was nothing short of amazing! Bad news? I wish I should have stayed longer.

Osaka in the Kansai region of Japan is home to the famous and historical Osaka Castle, as well as the more modern attraction in the form of Universal Studios. The castle holds a museum on the inside and an observation deck on the 8th floor. This topmost floor where visitors start their tour, welcomes tourists with a nice view of Osaka. On cold windy days, you can hear the wind howling when you come outside the deck to see the city.

The Airbnb accommodation where we stayed also happened to be in close proximity to Nagai Park, so I got to explore that area as well. There was a big supermarket nearby, and it was convenient to buy drinks, snacks and even full meals there. If you come by at 6pm onward, they discount the food items left so you can get them at a cheaper price! Now, both subway and JR Lines were also close by, which made it easy to travel around Osaka. Though I noticed at the end of my trip that a big amount of my expenses went to transportation as it was quite expensive compared to other Asian countries’ transportation costs. 

Now let's talk about the food. I'm a big sashimi lover, so needless to say, I enjoyed this part very much! There were lots of different kinds of sushi and sashimi, and all of them were always fresh, even the Tamago tasted different, like it was of a better quality (because I’m almost sure that it is). In most sushi places, they also have a bottle of green tea or matcha powder on the counter, and you can just add water and have your unlimited serving. This was another plus for a green tea and matcha lover like me!

In one of the bigger JR stations, we tried some udon, which you can order and pay for in vendo machine style,  except the difference is that the machine gives you a number. You enter the small food stall and see a counter that faces the people preparing the food, then you give them your number. Next thing you do is simply stand behind the counter and wait for your udon! The food stall has no chairs, so people eat standing up. Aside from having one really tasty meal, I felt like it was such an interesting experience, actually.

This being Japan, I had to eat authentic ramen during my visit. We went to a small ramen restaurant, and there I got a big, flavorful serving of something I would never regret. The ramen was different in a way that the creamy soup held so much flavor that tickled my taste buds to the very last scoop.

For a meal that could fuel up a long day, we had some tonkatsu sets that included rice, salad and soup. It was indeed a heavy serving of deep fried pork cutlets. The restaurant had several sauces or dressings on the table, and it did get me a little confused as to what to put where at the start. But then again, I still left feeling full and fulfilled with what I had eaten.

Onto more commercialized things I tried - we headed to Pablo for a snack when I was in Dōtonbori, and had some of their famous cheese tarts. We tried the original Pablo Cheese Tart of course, as well as a chocolate flavored one. It came with syrup and a scoop of ice cream. Although I found the chocolate one was too sweet for me, the original cheese tart was moist and it melted in your mouth - delicious!

Since it was Sakura season when I came, I also tried the Sakura Frappuccino (also available as latte) in Starbucks. They also had it in ready-to-drink, which was available in some convenience stores. It was actually really good that I took one (or three, maybe) home with me.

Alas, one of the main attractions in Osaka is Universal Studios Japan where the Wizarding World of Harry Potter can also be found. Since my family and I have already been to the Universal Studios in Singapore, our main goal was to explore the Hogwarts area of this theme park. We were able to do the castle walk, which is basically an unguided walking tour around the Hogwarts castle. Moreover, we rode the 4DX not just once, but twice! I guess it made the almost 1-hour line worth it. But really, know that scene in the movies or in your imagination when your not-so-kiddie ride attraction stops in the middle? Well, first thing I thought to myself was "I don't think this is supposed to happen." It really did happen, which is why we got to ride twice. The staff told us that since the ride paused or stopped in the middle, we could go again so we experience it non-stop this time. Another cool attraction there was the magic show in Ollivander's Wand Shop! They recreated the scene where Harry chooses his wand, but just like everything in the theme park, have I mentioned that all the dialogue is in Japanese? 

Aside from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we enjoyed the main ride at Jaws - it was a boat ride that simulated a shark attack in Amity. Now if I'm going to be honest, this was the part when I realized that because I couldn't understand the dialogue, half of the entire thing just became funny to me. Another one that I liked particularly though was the Jurassic Park ride. It was similar to the Jaws one in a way that you may get wet because this one was like a small roller coaster type raft ride.

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