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.
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!
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.
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 😎
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.
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.
This is a must try dish. Rich, warming, tasty, saucy all at once. A real treat for the senses!
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 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.
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?
You could spend hours exploring each store here with each store seemingly offering an infinite amount of produce stacked to rafters
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.
How cute is that! I love Racoons/tanuki of all types! 🦝😍
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 🤣
We explored the rest of the street picking up lots if bits as we went…
Lunch exploration and Wendy First Kitchen
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.
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.
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.
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.
With full bellies we again hit the shopping streets briefly before tucking ourselves in…
Goodnight streets, goodnight Kyoto…Good night huge crab sculpture…
A hint for Tomorrow? 🥾⛩️⛩️⛩️⛩️⛩️