We have reached our final stop, Osaka!
Osaka on first impression was what I assumed Japan would be before travelling there. Loud, Bright neon lights, so much going on that it is sometimes hard to stay focused. It noticeably had a different vibe to the other cities straight away. There is an attitude here that I didn't feel in Tokyo or Kyoto, and not a bad one. There was more confidence here, it seemed edgier to me. If you're coming to japan for the streetwear, neon lights and street food I think Osaka would be the place for you.
WHERE TO STAY
Once again, Michael nailed the location for our accommodation. I am not going to include a link to this AirBnb not because it was bad or anything went wrong, I just wouldn't stay there again. But the location was perfect. You could walk to Shinsaibashi (the main tourist location in Osaka) and all the boutiques around Orange Street. The suburb was Osaka-Shi.
By the end of our trip we realised that a few of the locations we stayed in had stayed in all had a few things in common. This rule even applied when we looked at past Air Bnb apartments we had stayed in around the world. We had a few stores/brands that were always located nearby. So now our rule is to find accomodation where you have an APC, Saturdays NYC or Aesop nearby. Good neighbourhood vibes guaranteed.
WHAT TO DO
Day trip to Nara
Nara is just a train ride away from Osaka and is well worth it just to feed baby deer. Remember to make them bow to treats. If you haven't seen too many temples already, there are plenty in Nara to visit.
This is an open mall for kitchen supplies but even more importantly for you - ceramics. Give yourself at least 2 hours to visit here. I went in thinking I wasn't going to buy anything due to my already stuffed suitcase and I came out with ink trays, painted bowls and jewellery dishes 2 hours later.
Namba Parks is great for shopping and eating and walking distance Shinsaibashi and Doguyasuji. I have a few recommendations for places to eat in Namba below.
Michael did me a favour and waited until night to take me down to Shinsaibashi for the first time and I would totally recommend doing the same. The neon light filled streets will overwhelm and amaze you at night. Besides the lights, Shinsaibashi has kilometres of shopping and places to eat. See below for my favourites.
This is where you'll want to spend a day wandering around, checking out the shopping and cafes. I found there was a lot more cool mens and homewares stores here but either way it is worth visiting. It is just a short walk from Shinsaibashi.
UMEDA SKY BUILDING
For an amazing view of Osaka, the Sky Building is the place to go. Be warned - it is fucking terrifying for someone who doesn't like lifts or heights. Firstly, the lift is outside the building and has glass walls and the escalator to the top is suspended between the two sides of the building so you are going up an escalator with nothing underneath. My hands are getting sweaty just typing this.
WHERE TO SHOP
BioTop Rooftop near Orange Street.
While you are there to get a bite to eat, head downstairs and check out their range of designer fashion and lifestyle products.
United Arrows / Beauty & Youth United Arrows
Every time you see a United Arrows of some kind, I would recommend having a look. It reminds me of Beams and has a really nice curation of fashion.
There isn't one particular store here but walking through, head into all of the ceramic stores. When visiting it is handy to not be carrying a lot. These stores are tiny and have walkways only one small person wide.
Tsutaya Books, LUCUA Osaka.
This place is close to impossible to find. We spent over an hour trying to find it. Lifts didn't go to the floor it said it was on, and google maps said we were in it when there was no books in sight. Once you are in the Lucua shopping centre try go up to level 10 then walk around until you find the escalator. That will take you down into the book store.
Grand Front Osaka
A large shopping centre that will have your favourites like Beams and United Arrows but also some lovely little boutiques.
WHERE TO EAT
BioTop Rooftop near Orange Street.
Either get some quick fries from their street level window or head upstairs. We went back multiple times because it was that good. I recommend getting one of their ginger drinks, a salad, their rosemary bread (a must) and a pizza to share. You will not need another meal for 10 hours but it will be worth it.
Tempura Daikichi, Namba Parks
You must go here for tempura goods!
Craft Burger Co. Osaka-Shi
This place was started by an Australian so you know they do good burgers!
Critters Burger, Nishishinsaibashi
Also a good spot for burgers.
LiLo Coffee Roasters
Mill Pour Coffee Shop
Good little spot for coffee and there is a bakery next door.
Good spot for breakfast or lunch and they also do 3D latte art?!
Mauloa Acai and Cafe
If you're heading to the Umeda Sky Tower, go here for acai!
The little mini cheese tarts are to die for. You must get at least 6.
Shinsaibashi Street Food
You must try some of the japanese street food on offer around Shinsaibashi. There is so much to choose from and you can just have a little bit of everything.
Saturdays NYC, Osaka Shi
Our apartment was just around the corner so this was our go to for a quick bite and coffee. They even had lamingtons which made me feel very aussie after 4 weeks away from home.
Note. Michael is vegetarian & we are the only two people on earth that don't like ramen so all recommendations will be ramen-free and vege appropriate.