OCTOBER 8th, 2019
Osaka is Japan’s second largest metropolitan area after Tokyo and is only a thirteen minute ride on the Shinkansen train – or half an hour on a Special Rapid Train – from Kobe. As we had the Japan Rail Pass we chose the former and were in Osaka almost before we knew we had left Kobe!
Our hotel, The Imperial, is on the water and the views from our room were beautiful both by day and night. There is a lovely Riverwalk just outside the hotel as well.
We explored the neighbourhood on foot and later caught a local train to Namba in the Minami area. This area is lively at night with illuminated billboards and flashing neon signs. There are dozens of shops and restaurants and bars all vying for business and we strolled the streets and observed the people. It is incredible how many are watching their smartphones even whilst walking, waiting for transport or friends, or just because…
The shops had a variety of goods but one which was totally fascinating was a kitchen ware store with literally thousands of items of stock. How I would have loved to have been able to take stuff home but with very light luggage that was not possible – fortunate perhaps.
We found a tiny restaurant which had amazing sashimi and tofu so once again we feasted very well in a local establishment with no tourists other than us!
This city has whiskey and gin distilleries – and no doubt a plethora of sake makers but we found a gin which suited our palates and was, strangely enough, made in Kyoto!
Having been to the Osaka Castle on a previous visit and disinclined to visit more museums with little English explanations, we decided to do a Red Bus tour of the city which proved to be very enlightening. The city is vast and has many different areas and the best way to cover it overall is to do the Red Bus Tour – as we have found in other cities in the world.
There is a lovely river which cuts through the centre of the city and a few parks but there are also acres of concrete and old dwellings mixed in with brand new skyscrapers – which makes for an interesting vista.
Then there are the traffic wardens who take their jobs very seriously
and finally even modern art finds it’s way into the urban metropolis
For a couple of days of hectic city life, Osaka fits the bill but my preference will always be the slower paces such as Kobe. We enjoyed Osaka and no doubt will return, meantime our last rugby game was scheduled for Shizuoka and that was to be our final stop in Japan.