Three days in Osaka are two too many. Although my S.O. would argue that two days are good.
We were warned that Osaka is mainly a foodie, shop till you drop and good times town. But you need to be under 30 to appreciate the neon lit, digital and pachinko game-fueled, and uber street food crazy Dotonburi area. The streets are crammed with people eating, drinking and partying. Not our scene and also, frankly, the ubiquitous fried Octopus balls are not our snack of choice. Ever.
We walked Dotonburi our first night in Osaka and I nearly wept for the bucolic, quiet island of Naoshima.
Our first full day, we went to Kuromon Ichiba Market, the 5 football field long farmers market. Here we got a taste of amazingly fresh and unctuous sushi and king crab legs among other things as we stopped at each stall that beckoned. Fresh watermelon, pineapple skewers all tasted so fresh and yummy.
After the crowded market, we decided to explore Nakazakakicho, a “Brooklynesque” section of pre-WWII wooden homes reclaimed by hipsters into cafes and galleries. It was nice to be in a quiet, artsy neighborhood for a bit. Then back to our hotel to rest before heading out for a tempura and udon dinner (hand-made, perfectly cooked noodles) at Azora Blue.
We learned about Azora Blue and the hipster neighborhood from the New York Times’ “36 hours in Osaka” article. 36 hours would have been just about right.
Day two, we tried to see the Pushkin Art Museum’s traveling exhibit at the National Museum of Art. After many subway connections, we found the museum closed. They are always open on Tuesday. Just not this Tuesday!
We returned to the food market for lunch. This time my guy had his eye on eating as much kobe beef as he could afford. Freshly grilled before us by a smiling (rich) chef, my carnivore was happy to cross kobe off his list. I went back for more crab and fatty tuna!
Then off to the aquarium, apparently the worlds 2nd largest. Not what we came to Japan for…but when in Osaka…
We spent our evening trying to track down a well rated italian restaurant but after much aching & walking, we found it too was closed. So much for google insisting it was open. We taxied back to Shin-Osaka station where we were staying and had a very tasty sushi and grilled fish dinner right in the station. Sometimes, we just try too hard when simple pleasures lie right at home!
The next morning, we trained it back to the museum. The exhibit of rarely seen Impressionist landscapes from the Russian collection ended our Osaka trip on a satisfying cultural note.
Final advice: read the “36 Hours” article and decide for yourself if Osaka belongs on your Japan itinerary. And don’t say you weren’t warned.
Writing this On 3 hour bullet train back to rainy Tokyo for last night before flight home.