We arrived in Osaka in the afternoon on Sunday 4th December. The hostel Khaosan World Namba was in a really good location, right next to Namba train station, with lots of places to eat, drink and shop just a short walk away. After we checked in we fancied some gyozas (dumplings), so asked at reception where to go. They recommended a place called Gyoza no Osho Kyobashiekimae and ordered a ramen (noodle soup) and some pork gyozas which were amazing. You placed your order on the iPad next to your table and your food came out moments later. We had a sleep after that as we were tired from all the walking and travelling we had done the last few days. That evening our hostel made Okonomiyaki (traditional Japanese savoury pancakes) which we had for dinner and they were delicious. Packed full of veggies and salad they tasted more healthy than some other Japanese dishes such as Katsu Curry (a favourite of Natalie’s from Japanese chain restaurant Wagamama).
On Monday we didn’t really know what to do for our only full day in Osaka as there was a lot to see, and also Universal Studios was there so we were torn! But we finally decided to explore the city on foot. First stop was Osaka Castle, but didn’t want to pay the 500 yen to get in so we just walked around the grounds and took pictures.
We actually wanted to go to the War Museum instead which was just on the outskirts of the park which the castle was in. Unfortunately the museum was closed on a Monday so we just continued to walk around the gardens. The park was lovely, very tranquil and relaxing - just what you expect from a Japanese garden, even if it was surrounded by busy roads. During our walk we saw an elderly man painting the view above and it was lovely to watch him create something so beautiful.
Later we got the train back to Namba area and walked to DenDen Town in Nipponbashi - an area for cheap technology gadgets and products. Natalie wanted to find herself a new iPhone as hers was slowly dying, but they were still over £200 if you wanted a newer model which was unlocked and had reasonable memory. After walking around town for a bit we headed back to the hostel. In hindsight we should have gone to the Umeda Sky Building as we were told they had a nice Christmas market on with mulled wine etc. However it was pretty chilly and raining on and off, so we relaxed at our hostel for a bit before walking to Dotonbori - a popular area for tourists and locals with bright lights/billboards and lots of restaurants, bars and street food trucks.
Natalie had sushi for the first time in a restaurant called Genrokuzushi Dotonbori which had a sushi train - just how she wanted to experience her first taste of sushi. We shared a few plates between us, trying the prawn, salmon, red fin tuna, squid, and eel. We then walked around after dinner taking pictures of the bright lights and soaking up the craziness of Japan before we left for Bali the next day. Japan is just so colourful and everything is over exaggerated, especially in Dotonbori. All the restaurants have giant pieces of food lit up above their doors, and all the buildings are just covered in neon billboards.
After a wander we found a street food truck that did a curly potato thing on a stick with fried chicken and sausage so we topped ourselves up after the sushi. We wanted to get back to our hostel for 11pm as the staff were teaching guests how to fold Origami. They had a book with a few designs and helped us make a stalk/crane. We wanted to try one more and of course Jordan would choose the most difficult one there - another bird type thing that took ages to make but actually looked pretty good by the end.
Our flight was at 11am the next day so we left bright and early for the airport. We had bought our JR passes for a week but had continued to use them for two days after they expired as no train guards were checking it at all. And we thought we had got away with it, but just as we got to the airport, a guard looked at it properly and noticed it was out of date so we had to pay 1,000 yen each (roughly £7.00). Not too awful but it would have still be nice to get away with it! So after a whirlwind 8 days in the craziness of Japan, it was time to catch a flight to relaxing Bali where we stayed for 6 weeks.