Ahh, you have to love a city with canals winding through the streets. Nothing beats the soft reflecting lights and relaxing, pleasant atmosphere. This is Osaka, the next stop on The Expedition, and within five minutes of walking through the city, you can tell Osaka is known for their food!
Before I get into the details, I have to point out something funny from the trip to Osaka from Tokyo. It’s about an eight-hour bus ride, so I took the overnight bus. When everyone got on board, all of a sudden I felt like I was being wrapped up into a cocoon. The shades over the windows closed, and the bus driver zipped us up from the front! It was hilarious! Of course, everyone else on board acted like this was a completely normal thing to happen on a bus. They really did mean night bus when they said it. It was dead silent, and the lights were completely out. At least I got some sleep!
Anyway, back to Osaka. Known for being one of the dirtier cities in Japan, Osaka was cleaner than any US city I’ve ever seen! It was beautiful. The first two pictures are of the Dōtonbori canal and the next two are from the Umeda Sky Building. I really like how most of the cities in Japan have tall observatory decks where you can see views of the entire city. Dōtonbori is the main shopping, entertainment, and nightlife area. I swear the main street through Dōtonbori was one of the most packed streets I’ve ever walked through.
On the first day, I headed to Osaka Castle, a magnificent structure sitting on fifteen acres. There were two moats and a really nice museum inside – and another great view from the top!
The next big site was one of Osaka’s famous shrines, Sumiyoshi Taisha. It was so peaceful and calming I stayed a while just sitting on the steps of the big red footbridge.
“One must live as if it would be forever, and as if one might die each moment. Always both at once.” -Mary Renault
As for nightlife, I checked out the Osaka Pub Crawl one night. It was a great place to meet foreigners and locals alike. It was cool because you pay a flat fee, and they take you around to different bars with travelers also looking to make friends and have a great time! In short, I’d describe the nightlife as just a smaller Tokyo.
Now wait… how did I get distracted from the most important part, the FOOD!! Wowzers. Every single thing I ate in Osaka was the best in Japan. From beef bowls, to sushi, to ramen, to everything else, it was so yummy. But Osaka is known for one thing in particular, one thing you cannot get anywhere else in the world. Authentic KOBE BEEF. And watch out! Especially in America, restaurants claim they are selling Kobe beef but what they are really selling is Kobe-style beef since the trademark is not regulated – these are typically Wagyu cattle, another very premium meat, but psh, not Kobe!
There are only about 3,000 head of cattle that qualify as Kobe. They have to be Tajima cattle in the Hyōgo Prefecture in Japan, along with a bunch of other specifications. If you ever wanted to be a cow, you would definitely want to be Tajima. These cows are fed beer, brushed with sake to soften their hair, and receive regular massages to relive stress. No wonder they taste so good! A happy cow is a tasty cow.
The Kobe is the picture on the right. It’s as much as I could afford! Ha! The left two are Wagyu beef, which while also expensive in America, a great deal in Japan! Imagine selling the highest quality steak from an expensive steakhouse on the street. That’s basically what this is! It was incredible. It was some of the best steak I’ve ever had, without the cost or hassle!
Have you ever had Kobe beef? How was it? Let me know in the comments below!