We decided to head out early on a Saturday for a quick weekend trip to Osaka. This is the second largest city in Japan, known for it's good food and loud, friendly people. By catching a 7am shinkansen we were able to get into the city by 10:30am and start our tour.
Osaka Castle is one of the biggest draws so we headed there first. From the outside it's pretty impressive but, oddly, the inside is really just a museum. The last Japanese castle we visited had an original, authentic interior and I expected this one to be the same.
After hiking up several steep sets of stairs we were pretty tired by the end but it was worth it. We had a gorgeous view at the top!
After some delicious karaage (fried chicken) and ice cream from some friendly vendors we trekked over to Shittenoji Temple. On the way, we were pretty weirded out by the fact that there were so few people on the streets and subways... It seemed like the city was deserted. Later we asked the hotel staff if there was a holiday this weekend and they said there was, but we couldn't find any information on it. Is Osaka just empty compared to bustling Tokyo? We're still not sure.
Shittenoji Temple was a pretty spot but, again, deserted.
That night we headed to the most happening spot in Osaka - Dotonbori! This place was full of neon lights, shopping galore, crane games, and tons of delicious street food (is this where all of Osaka was all day?). In Japan, it's very uncommon to walk with your food, so this was a strange sight. It reminded me so much of Seoul's Myeoungdong!
Blowfish is a popular dish here, and while we didn't try any, we did see some as we strolled down the street.
Tim is a big crab lover so we made a bee-line for the highly-rated Kanidouraku Dotombori-Honten. As you'll see below, Dotonbori's restaurants attach giant (sometimes moving) models of the food they serve. It's definitely eye-catching!
We enjoyed delicious kaiseki ryori (traditional, multiple course meal). I'd never had crab served so many ways! We even had it raw and grilled at the table.
Check out Tim's grilling skills.
When we turned in at the end of the night, we were in for a treat. We used credit card points to stay at Starwood's St. Regis and it was gorgeous! Excellent service and beautiful views. So fun!
Sunday was a rainy day so we decided to head inside... to Osaka's famous Kaiyukan Aquarium. It had been touted as one of the world's best, but I think that we are so spoiled by the Monterey Bay Aquarium that we couldn't agree. The design forces you to walk on one long route through the exhibits, which circle lower and lower so that you see the same tanks at various depths as you go. They had many types of fish, some amazing whale sharks, and many mammals (even, strangely, a capybara). It was quite interesting how the dolphins, seals, and even sharks seemed to be showing off with flips and dives during our tour. It almost felt like we were at Sea World, with performing sea life!
After that it was time for some coffee and cake, and a jump back on the shinkansen. What a fun, whirlwind weekend getaway!