I was blown away by Osaka. From what I had read I knew that it is famous for its food and lively atmosphere. It does rise above the expectations and was my next stop after Hiroshima. Firstly, at the beginning I was a bit nervous as I had booked a capsule hotel in Osaka. However, this turned out to be a very good experience and I felt like that the capsule was spacious and private. To be fair, as I was sleeping last year in a tiny cabin on a yacht while sailing the Aegean Sea, the absolute bearable minimum for me has already been reached on that yacht (unfortunately I did not find a picture of it!). The capsule hotel offered enough storage space in a different room, with enclosed bathroom. The main sleeping hall was very quiet in comparison to a normal hostel, as all of the unpacking and packing was moved to a separate room. It was very clean and if I’m travelling again in Japan, I would consider booking this again.
Secondly, the food was amazing. I had the best spicy ramen of my life and was considering even just going back for the ramen while I was in Kyoto later on. The first ramen restaurant I wanted to visit was so packed, that they did not even allow you to queue. I looked for another option and found one with a small queue. The queue was indeed small, but so was the restaurant. In the end I had to queue for an hour, but considering how good the ramen noodles were, I can say that it was worth it. I also tried Tako-yaki, which are doughy dumplings filled with octopus. Another highlight was a restaurant called Kaiten Sushi Ganko, where I had a good spot at the counter next to the sushi belt and could watch the itamae (chef for sushi) prepare the different dishes. There are countless restaurants and I cannot imagine how one can stay hungry in this city.
Thirdly, I found there to have been a good mixture between the different sights I’d visited. I learned a bit about the Japanese unification period (16th to 17th century) by visiting Osaka’s castle, which is huge and divided into three rings. You have to pass multiple gates and bridges to get to the inner ring where the castle is located.
I was amazed by the view on the city as I’ve seen it from Japan’s tallest building Abeno Harukas (300m; 60-storey). There is an observation deck on the 59th floor and the view at sunset was spectacular. On the 58th floor there is a bar and a restaurant, where I decided to have a beer (I do miss at times the Apérol Spritz ). Even though lights were blinking everywhere, from the deck it did feel like time was standing still.
Another highlight was the Umeda Sky building, due to its architecture. It resembles a “space-age Arc de Triomphe”. The two towers are connected by a floating garden, but to be honest, the daytime view did not beat the view at sunset at Abeno Harukas. I do consider it worthwhile to visit for its architecture. Afterwards I walked to the Sonezaki temple in Osaka, which was quite an odyssey until I got there as it required me to walk through the Osaka train station. There were a couple of stations in Osaka, with more than 32 exits. The complexity of finding the right exit is even increased, as a station can be a metro station and a train station, whereby the exits are labelled and counted separately. So, while there might be 32 exits for the metro, there are additional exits for the train station at the same station. As you can imagine, I got lost a few times and even missed one of my Shinkansen trains later on. Based on google maps, getting from Umeda Sky building to Sonezaki temple takes 20 minutes. It took me twice as long, I guess almost the same?
I’m very glad to have stopped in Osaka and would not have minded an additional day.
Thank you for reading and until soon,