Osaka is only a brief 30 minute train ride away from Kyoto, so it was always on the books that we’d day trip out there and take full advantage of our JRPass.

A canal with a pedestrian bridge adorned with white lanterns, buildings with commercial signage, and a large chef statue on a rooftop.

Osaka is known for its street food, especially Takoyaki 1 and its party atmosphere. Residents are apparently known for their friendliness and relaxed attidudes, more so than residents of Kyoto and Tokyo apparently!

It’s also got a really great shopping street renowned for its kitchen supplies and even a special store that sells the plastic food re-creations you’ll see on the front of so many restaurants.

This was our mission. Full bellies and kitchen goods. Let’s go!


A Beef & Omelet sandwich in a clear plastic container on a wooden table with scattered coins, a wallet, a smartwatch, and a partially visible water bottle in the background.

We stopped off at Suzuya our favourite bakery and I got a mixed beef katsu/Tamagoyaki multi-pack. This was amazing. The family had assorted pastries and soon we headed towards the local train.

Osaka! Dōtonbori

Today was probably the hottest day we’d had in Japan. It was 35c+ the entire time and the place was jammed Almost uncomfortably so.

It turns out we had unexpectedly travelled on one of Japans newest public holidays. Mountain Day! It appears that instead of the holidays intent of encouraging people to become closer with nature and seek mountain blessings, on this public holiday a lot of people had decided to come to Osaka to eat and shop instead!

We bravely ventured forth and begun to explore. Starting with one of the most famous sections first. Dōtonbori!

First stop was to the world famous Glico Man board. Dating from 1935 this sweet company advert is a prime photo spot. Apparently this is the sixth iteration of the sign and the first to use LED’s instead of neon lights. We did the thing with the pose 😎

Me and my sons joyfully posing with raised arms in front of the famous Glico Running Man sign in the Dotonbori district of Osaka, Japan, with various colorful billboards in the background.

In the background here you can see Ebisu Tower, built into the front of my favourite discount store in Japan Don Quijote. Above the penguin mascot you can see the large ferris wheel. It was closed for 10 years (2008 > 2018) after cracks were found in the rail. it was repaired at a cost of ¥250 million (Nearly £1.4 million). There’ll be more about ”Donki” in upcoming posts.

A vibrant urban street scene in Japan with a large Ferris wheel, colorful billboards, and a canal running through it, flanked by buildings and pedestrian walkways.

All that posing and photography made our next port of call had to be getting a portion of delicious Takoyaki. First made in the 1930’s in this very city by a street vendor these octopus cuts in a Yorkshire pudding style wet batter covered in sauce and bonito flakes that dance when touching the hotness of the batter are a must have. You can purchase your own Takoyaki pan of cast iron construction with circular moulds to evenly and efficiently cook your Takoyaki.

A Japanese food stall with traditional paper lanterns and a menu board displaying food items with prices. A refrigerator stocked with beverages is visible, and a person wearing a cap is partially seen below.

A street vendor in a black T-shirt and chef hat preparing food at a stall with a glass display showcasing rows of round, light-colored dough balls. Behind him, pedestrians and shops can be seen under a red awning.

A plate of takoyaki, which are Japanese octopus dumplings, topped with mayonnaise, a savory sauce, and bonito flakes, held by a person with chopsticks.

A bearded man with glasses smiling at the camera, holding a boat-shaped container with takoyaki (octopus balls), topped with bonito flakes. In the background, a bustling street scene with people and Japanese signs.

This is a must try dish. Rich, warming, tasty, saucy all at once. A real treat for the senses!

A busy street scene in Japan with a large red octopus sculpture above a restaurant entrance, surrounded by various signs and banners, and a crowd of people walking below.

The storefront facades are amazingly elaborate as the street stretches on. We took in the street sounds as we ate our Takoyaki and then moved to our next destination!

Sennichimae Doguyasuj

Sennichimae Doguyasuj is a shopping street that specialises in cooking stores. Knives, pottery, utensils, lanterns, displays and of course the fake plastic food shown in so many windows. Like the below.

Display of various Italian dishes including pasta, pizza, and salad, alongside bottles of wine at the top shelf, likely in a restaurant or food establishment. Some dishes have descriptive tags in front.

We stopped at the plastic food store first, I didn’t manage to snap any photos as the place was just insanely busy, but you can see some better photos of the store and the street here

I did buy a fake tangerine. Yes dear reader! This is not the real thing! Amazing right?

A real looking tangerine actually made of plastic held in the palm of a hand

You could spend hours exploring each store here with each store seemingly offering an infinite amount of produce stacked to rafters

This image shows a Japanese market alley with traditional goods and decorations, featuring a large Maneki-neko (lucky cat) statue, colorful lanterns, banners, and various cultural and souvenir items on display.

My wife explored the many stores selling pottery and we were all shocked at the high quality and low price. Bowls and cups that would be £5-15 in UK were on sale for ¥200-400 (around £1-£3).

I got one of my favourite souvenirs that sits next to me full of coffee as I write this post.

A ceramic mug designed to look like a raccoon face, placed on a wooden coaster on a wooden table with a purple wall background.

How cute is that! I love Racoons/tanuki of all types! 🦝😍

A Japanese shopfront displaying traditional swords and accessories, with signage indicating a tax-free shop in Japan. The exterior features wooden elements and cultural decorations.

My kids were more enthralled by the store that sold knives, samurai swords and replica muskets. It was very impressive, but….not something we could take home 🤣

A black and white photo of a covered shopping street in Japan with people walking among various shops and hanging banners. A curved, modern ceiling spans above.

We explored the rest of the street picking up lots if bits as we went…

An oversized novelty teapot displayed outside a store, resembling a traditional stove-top kettle.

A person walking past the entrance of an electronics store, which displays a variety of products ranging from kitchenware to electronic equipment. Visible signage includes Japanese text.

Lunch exploration and Wendy First Kitchen

With aching feet we sat and had a drink at a Doutor which appears to be as prevalent in Japan as Pret in the UK and we hit more street food. This time ice cream Melon Pan.

A busy street scene with pedestrians, a hanging sculpture of a cow, oversized model food items, and various signage in the shopping district of Osaka, Japan.

Melon Pan is a bread with crystallised sugar on top. It’s delicious on its own but with ice cream inside on a day like today was heavenly.

The streets were getting even busier now and the sun was taking a toll, so after exploring the shopping areas a bit more we needed something larger to eat.

We are constantly impressed by the little touches we come across in Japan. From a decorative street tile to even a manhole cover! So much consideration is poured into everyday elements.

A maneki-neko (beckoning cat) design embedded in a pavement tile.

Decorative manhole cover featuring a traditional building, cherry blossoms, and stylized clouds or waves, showcasing Japanese cultural motifs.

Lunch was at Wendys First Kitchen or “Fakkin” as it’s referred to locally 😳🤣

This is a merge of American chain Wendys and a local brand First Kitchen. I believe Wendys had previously tried to get a foothold in Japan and failed, but this present merged version is much more popular.

A person with curly red hair eating a sandwich, a cheeseburger with lettuce on a tray, two drinks with red straws, disposable cutlery, and fast food restaurant branding.

The food and service was fabulous, and a very nice young Japanese couple moved seats so we could sit together as a foursome. We ate our food and the kids decided they wanted to try their Kakigōri which also received rave reviews from the boys.

A person sitting at a table giving a thumbs-up sign while holding a spoon with a green shaved ice dessert topped with red beans. There is a branded takeaway bag on the table along with a bag featuring a cartoon character print.

Heading Home!

With even more people now on the streets and the temperature unchanged, we tapped out mid-afternoon and decided to get the train back to Kyoto.

Due to just how hot and busy things were, there are sections I just couldn’t get any shots of! We did manage to go into the “Donki” store where we acquired kit-kits, treats and drinks for the way home.

We rested up at the hotel and waited for the temperature to drop as we discussed our Dinner plans. For which I had something…interesting planned 😆

Cafe Gusto & an evening Kyoto walk

Gusto is one of Japans “Family Restaurants”. I guess the closest UK equivalent would have been something like the now closed down Little Chef… a family place focused on quick food staples with a relaxed atmosphere. But… what I really came for was the robots. Cat robots… 🤖😺

That’s right. After ordering on the tablet placed at the table, your order is delivered by an absolutely delightful robotic waiter.

Every time I watch this video I laugh at my wife giving a little thank you nod towards our “waiter” and our confusion about if it will just leave once we took our dishes 🤭 this was so much fun!

The food itself was great as well! I had a traditional Japanese style “hambagu” which is a burger steak covered in gravy, as did my youngest. My wife and elder had Pizza, which was a good quality western style(ish) Pizza 2

Unlimited soft drinks with a cocacola freestyle machine was also a hit with all the family.

A sizzling plate with a hamburger steak topped with a fried egg, accompanied by corn and fried hash brown patties. In the background, a glass of beer, a green soda, and a partial view of another person with a pizza.

My son sitting at a restaurant table with various dishes including pizza, eggs, and corn, holding a can with a surprised expression.

A smiling person with red curly hair, wearing glasses and a green patterned shirt, seated at a restaurant table with a tray of food including a hamburger steak with an egg on top, hash browns, and corn, with a side of ketchup

With full bellies we again hit the shopping streets briefly before tucking ourselves in…

Goodnight streets, goodnight Kyoto…Good night huge crab sculpture…

Nighttime street view of a building with a large illuminated 3D crab sculpture above the entrance, people walking by on the sidewalk, streetlights, and signage with Japanese characters.

A hint for Tomorrow? 🥾⛩️⛩️⛩️⛩️⛩️

  1. Battered Octopus pieces…more on this later. 🐙 ↩︎

  2. Japanese style 🍕 can be…strange. And very expensive! Check out Japanese Pizza Hut’s menu ↩︎