The one thing you’ll really want in Osaka is a good friend, if you don’t have that, then may I suggest booking yourself into a hotel with a truly excellent concierge. The baffling lack of street names (for smaller streets) in this bustling metropolis means that often times, its best offerings go unnoticed by the suakoo tourist such as myself, add to that the fact that very few people understand English (especially when asking for directions to a relatively obscure spot whose Japanese name I am surely butchering beyond all recognition), and you have a recipe for very long walks in the wrong direction. That being said, if you like eating & shopping (as most Singaporeans do), then you’ll adore Osaka.
You’ll notice that all the pictures revolve around food, the direct result of consuming on average about 5 meals a day. Disgusting, I know, but food really does taste better in Japan, and it looks prettier too. From perfectly shaped freshly baked loaves of bread to the most delicately flavoured sashimi to sizzling hot okonomiyaki bursting with flavour and gooey goodness, Osakans just do everything better. We followed ChubbyHubby’s advice and paid a visit to Endo sushi, where B proceeded to eat his way through every single plate of super fresh sushi topped with sublime slices of fish placed in front of him (which resulted in Endo-san gracing one of our pictures). And while the fish was surely some of the best I’ve ever had, what I loved most about the place was the warm slightly vinegared sushi rice. I could have eaten bowls full of it! The sushi was surely something to sing about, and you must make it a point to visit his little establishment if you ever get the chance.
If you shop along Shinsaibashi (which I’m sure you will), stop into Grand Afternoon Tea (located beside Paul Smith) for a break and a bite of delightfully light green tea chiffon cake. Then head to Tokyu Hands where you’ll proceed to buy up every ingenious little nonsensical contraption the Japanese have ever invented. I spent a whole afternoon at the stationery floor alone trying out erasable pens and trying to decide which pretty notebook/organizer/postcard/stickers to buy. Don’t forget to pay a visit to the food halls of Takashimaya, Daimaru & Sogo, B and I must have sampled something from every concession stand, and ended up buying truckloads of biscuits home.
There was a boatload of shopping done too, but you’ll see those pictures in my next post about Tokyo where I actually got to use all that gorgeous winter-weather-wear. Japanese design FTW!
p.s. If you’re looking for a place to stay and you have some spare change, The Ritz in Osaka is the way to roll. It has the best concierge service I’ve ever come across (this is true for the Ritz in Tokyo too), they’ll not only give you a map but they’ll google-map where you want to go, zoom in, highlight the path in yellow, and write out every minute detail you’ll need to know (and even those you’ll never need to know) about the way there. That is a truly excellent concierge. Two thumbs up!