Osaka: A Japanese Culture Trip

The last stop of my trip to Japan was a visit to Osaka to meet an old friend from uni, Jen. To reach Osaka we got a night bus from Tokyo. I’d heard that the night buses in Japan were quite fancy with large, spacious, reclining chairs. This is what I expected:

Something must have gone quite wrong when we made the booking, however, as this is what I got:

For those of you who don’t know, I have quite short legs.

After the 8 hour journey, we arrived in Osaka at about 6:30 in the morning. Luckily, Japan’s cities provide continuous entertainment at all hours of the day. So what did we do? Go to an arcade, of course.

Arcade culture is something that is taken very seriously in Japan. You are bound to come across multiple multi-storey arcades packed with avid gamers when wandering the streets of any Japanese city.

To fully experience this arcade culture, we went big and took on Round 1 Stadium. A seven storey, 24 hour arcade complex that never sleeps. When you enter, you are embraced by an entire floor dedicated to crane games.

There are endless prizes to be won. From your generic fluffy toys:

To snacks and noodle cups:

And even ice cream:

We then visited one of the gaming floors. This consisted of a lot of hardcore games, not suitable for the novice. I gave a shooting game a go; how hard could it really be? Aim, shoot, score!

Very hard. Needless to say, it was way more complicated than I thought and I had no idea what I was doing.

The next floor was more my kind of thing. Lots of fun, light-hearted games like Mario Kart, Dance Mat and Guitar Hero. We probably spent the most amount of time here.

The last floor we visited was full of penny games and slot machines. I spent too much time on one of the horribly addictive 2p/coin pusher machines.

The other floors are filled with bowling alleys, pool tables, dart boards and karaoke booths. After successfully killing the morning at the arcade, we headed to Kuramo Food Market for some lunch.

The stalls were a spectacle. Sashimi counters jostled for space with fried chicken vendors, tempura shops, grilled seafood spots and more.

Look at the marbling on these pieces of beef!

We got some takoyaki: octopus balls made with a pancake-like batter and smothered in a delicious sauce. Takoyaki is an Osakan delicacy and isn’t to be missed.

We also got some takosen which is basically like a takoyaki sandwich.

Next up we bought some eel on a stick. Eel may sound daunting to some but honestly, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. The meat is really tasty and it is coated in a delicious, tangy sauce.

This was all finished off with some freshly made doughnuts which were eaten before I remembered to take a photo.

The next day, Jen gave us a tour of some of the main things to see in Osaka. It was edgy, cool and colourful. I enjoyed the fun characters hanging out the shopfronts.

Can you see the old twerking man?

I was also quite taken with the awesome streetlamps.

We stopped at a yakiniku place for a bite to eat. Yakiniku is the word for “grilled meat”. You are given a selection of bite size pieces of meat and cook them on a grill in the middle of the table.

We ordered a variety of different cuts of beef.

Jen, being the local, did the honours of grilling the meat. She’s got those chopstick skills down now.

I may have said it before but I definitely mean it this time: this was my favourite meal in Japan. Honestly.

The beef was so delicious and completely melted in your mouth. In fact, I’m starting to crave some yakiniku right now!

After that extraordinary meal, we wandered about a bit more before going to experience another part of Japanese culture that is taken very seriously: karaoke.

Did you know “karaoke” is a combination of the Japanese words for “empty” and “orchestra” (kara oukesutora)? As poetic as that may be, our karaoke experience thankfully wasn’t as depressing as that translation (despite my terrible singing).

We went for an hour but it flew by far too fast!

As with most Japanese cities, Osaka really comes alive in the evening.

On our final day in Osaka, which was also our final day in Japan, my priority was to have the ultimate Japanese meal. This place recommended by Jen was ideal.

I ordered my last instalment of sashimi and also some scallops which were grilled at the table.

A very satisfying send off!

The next stop is Thailand for a bit of rest and relaxation after an incredible but exhausting tour of Japan. I’m hoping for much better weather and even more delicious food! Sayonara!

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