Japan | Osaka is Bustling, We Are Starving

The first thing I will say is that we miss China for the sake of food. You really could just stumble upon any random bricked hole in the wall and emerge with a full stomach and happy demeanor. In Japan, you pay a minimum of $6 for any kind of meal, and portions are stingy, to say the least. I am not exaggerating in the least when I say that I have witnessed multiple $80 cantaloupes (that’s $80 each, friends) and even paid $2 for a fried piece of asparagus on a stick. Also, while Japanese cuisine is often tempting in theory (sushi, fried whatsits, noodles), this has been somewhat hard to find. More often than not, we stumble around looking at mysterious meats and inexplicable dishes. We are slowly starving.

That said, we are enjoying our Japan time immensely (we can buy belts, right?). It’s such a significant departure from the rest of our trip that we find ourselves yet again fascinated by absolutely everything. Frankly, Japan is crazy.

Our first stop was Osaka, a fitting entrance into Japanese culture. With more malls than required, per se, and plenty of sightseeing activities, our itinerary here was flexible but packed. On our first night, we attended a baseball game, which was utterly fantastic, if only for the stuffed crepes I discovered there. (Really, we are starving. My crepe was $12 and very small.) This is really a must-do in Japan, because they are maaaaaad for baseball. Zealous fans crowded the bleachers, clad in festive team colors head to toe and covered in flags, horns, and other paraphernalia. They coordinated dances and chanted along with the audience band, which provided a high-school-football-game like atmosphere, trumpets and all. There was even a magical number complete with embroidered scarves and hip-shaking goodness.

In the next couple of days, we explored the city, including the oldest castle in Osaka, which we were a bit disappointed to learn is actually a replica. Nonetheless, exploring the parks filled with the last pinks of cherry blossoms and wandering the streets here was quite soothing. Did you know that in Japan, they have a whole word for “cherry blossom viewing?” Hanami. How fun/nutty is that? Also on the agenda was the Floating Garden Observatory, which I cannot relate to floating gardens in any way, and not for lack of trying. This was not a disappointing experience, however. The building is neat to begin with, but then you get to ride these futuristic, tube-like escalators to the top for a grand view. By the way, Osaka is huge. Huge. There is no end in sight when it comes to tall building and inhabited land. We sat downstairs until the sun went down on the glittering metropolis. We were back in bed by the time I noticed that we were literally blocks away from the Tsutenkaku Tower, an image that I had literally been carrying with my since our departure to Asia. Since it was our last night in Osaka, we tumbled out of our warm beds, rapidly got dressed, and made our way to the bright neighborhood. From a spot under Blowfish Restaurant, I took the exact photo I had been staring at for months. It was just as bright and bustly as I had imagined, a splatter-painting of colorful lights and foods. I’ve read that this street is the hot spot for kushikatsu (i.e. breaded and fried things on sticks), which is almost always scrumptious. In addition to the numerous eateries, the area is packed with karaoke bars, slots, and fanatic pedestrians. The tower itself, the center of the area, is allegedly the “Eiffel Tower” of Osaka – apparently half of the city was designed after Paris, the other half after Coney Island. After careful consideration (read: not actually much of a debate), we decided that the whole place is a lot more like Coney Island.

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