Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Osaka, Revisited After Five Years

"Kui-daore-no machi"
the city that loves to eat


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Big slope, where you get to eat till you drop.

I have lived in Japan for almost six years and it is quite bizarre that of all the places, Osaka, the second largest city in Japan, remains one of the place that I have not really explored yet. I took the chance from my business trip to Sasayama in mid-August, by dropping by Osaka for half a day. It was a coincidence that Kai Cung and Shei Pien was there to visit their friend, and I decided to join them as well.

Actually the main intention was to meet someone special. More on that later.

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On my journey to Osaka from Sasayama on a local train. Again, the beautiful paddy field scenery provided vivid rural sight from inside the bullet train.

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My first culture shock in Osaka. One of the biggest difference between Osaka and Tokyo is this. Apparently people in Osaka will stand on the right side
and walk on the left, when they are on stairs and escalators. It is opposite in Tokyo.

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This is not a culture shock but it is indeed very passenger-friendly of JR West to prepare cushioned seats, as seen at Umeda station.

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Suica (rechargeable smart card) is not usable in Osaka, hence I had to revert to the traditional method of buying a ticket.

My last and only time to Osaka was like five years ago and that was only a short tour around Osaka. I only visited Osaka Castle and Universal Studio Japan (USJ) over a 36-hour span in Osaka. I don't know why, but I just cannot make myself loving Osaka as much as Tokyo. Probably because I'm too used to the life in Tokyo. Or perhaps, I don't really understand the Kansai accent lol!

And they say Osaka people are generally more friendly than Tokyo people. From my experience, it wasn't really the case. Or maybe I was just unlucky to met with rude and scary Osakaites hahaha! Furthermore, it is so hard to find my directions around this city, especially the train lines which is just too confusing. Sorry Osaka people, I still prefer Tokyo to Osaka.

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City in the garden? The main road near Dotonbori is full of green trees along the street.

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And sometimes, green river too lol!

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My first time to Dotonbori, the most popular entertainment district in Osaka.

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This is Shinsaibashi (心斎橋), arguably the most visited bridges in Japan because of one thing.

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Glico Man billboard, the giant neon athlete on a blue track is the most-common thing to be associated with Osaka, besides takoyaki (octopus balls).

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A trip to Osaka will never be completed without a photo with the Glico Man.

Dotonbori is a large scale downtown along the south bank of the Dotonbori-gawa Canal in Osaka. A common saying about Osaka is kui-daore-no-machi (食い倒れの街), or the town that loves to eat. And so, the entire area of Dotonbori is thronged with an unbelievable number of restaurants and amusement facilities, and is dearly loved by the Osakaites.

On both sides of the canal are lined with masses advertisements and neon lights. The entire sides of buildings are decorated with neon lamps. The illuminated signboards and neon lamps reflect on the canal at night, making Dotondori a dazzling place for visitors. Dotonbori is also often being used as movie location in Japanese and foreign films (Black Rain, 1989) as the symbol of Osaka.

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The south side of the canal, the Dotonbori Street, well-known for its various eateries with famous Osaka giant signs such as crabs and fugu.

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This 6.5-meter crab is on the front of a crab restaurant Kani Doraku and it is able to move its arms and eye-stalks.

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A giant advertisement to promote a popular Osaka specialty. There's a camera below the signboard and visitors can see their image appearing in the signboard.

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Another famous local specialty - various kinds of snacks of Kuidaore Taro, a legendary mechanical doll in Dotonbori.

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A giant dragon on top of a ramen restaurant. I love the open-air concept of this restaurant a lot!

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An UFC (unidentified flying cow) spotted in Dotondori!

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Apparently, the cow is a mascot for this restaurant, which specialises in beef or pork offal or more commonly known as horumonyaki.  

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Super angry uncle who operates this satay shop haha!

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Another green dragon, but this is a pachinko outlet.

No trip to Osaka will be completed without tasting its famous takoyaki or octopus balls. There is a small stall along the busy street of Dotondori which claimed to be ranked first by a few magazines and websites, including Gurunabi (a popular online restaurant site). Not sure how true it is as the people lining up for takoyaki from this stall is not as many as I would have expected.

We continued our short exploration around this area, and that brought us to a narrow, stone-paved lane with an atmosphere resembles that of the old days in Osaka. Hozenji Yokocho Lane has small food shops and cafes with beautiful latticework stand side by side, as a reminiscence of the Edo Period in the 17th century, which gives a peaceful atmosphere to visitors.

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The takoyaki stall which claims to be the best in the area.

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Beautiful quiet lane in Hozenji Yokocho, which offers a different atmosphere to that of Dotonbori Street.

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 Paper lanterns at Hozenji Temple, which enshrines Mizukakefudo. There is a statue in this shrine which is completely covered by moss 
which continues to thrive through people watering it when making a prayer.

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The long shopping street of Shinsaibashi-suji (心斎橋筋).

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And here you are! This is the main reason I made a stop in Osaka, not for its takoyaki but to see baby Yang Yang! 

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This is the Osaka's version of Yamanote Line. They call it the Osaka Loop or Osaka Kanjosen.

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And finally, time to return home. 

That sums up a short entry of my short trip to Osaka. Thanks for reading and every comment posted will be rewarded with three home-made takoyaki balls.

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