When Jay and I both visited Hawaii last August, my cousin Alex graciously took us out to eat at one of his favorite sushi spots on the island. We walked into the lobby of a hotel, and hidden behind a draped curtain was this elusive sushi restaurant tucked away from the hustle of Waikiki, where everyone eating around us looked and spoke Japanese. It was there, after a few glasses of Asahi and some audible moans and “Mmmmm”‘s after eating the freshest pieces of fish Jay and I had ever eaten, my cousin started talking about his many experiences in Japan and how cool it would be if we both joined him in the Spring to eat sushi just as good, or better, than the Omakase we were having in front of us. Two passports and a 14 hour flight later, Jay and I found ourselves immersed in a new country for the first time. Neither of us spoke any Japanese, except whatever I could pick up from watching anime, but we were ready to tackle on what would be one of the most unique adventures both of us had ever been on.
We spent a total of 12 days in Japan, excluding 2 full days of travel there and back. To be honest, I didn’t plan this trip out as thoroughly as I should have. For previous trips, I’d lay out a detailed plan of where we’d be going, what we would be seeing, and what we’d be eating. I basically researched different travel guides for Japan, watched travel videos from my favorite Youtubers and bloggers, and asked friends and family what they recommended in Japan. The only things that were really booked were the places we were staying and we winged the rest. Stressful in a way, but it left our trip open to all of these endless discoveries and possibilities. We followed what Alex wanted to do, since he was more familiar with the country, and we decided to spend 5 days in Osaka and 1 full week in Tokyo.
Firstly – the travel. We flew from LAX to Osaka through Japan airlines and that in itself was a cultural experience. Bento boxes for our meals, crunchy japanese snacks, and the flight attendants were super friendly and accommodating. The bathrooms were clean and if you’ve ever spoken to anyone that’s been to Japan, they must have had to mention their toilets being really top notch. The seats are warmed for you, there are buttons on the side that can play like.. gentle rainforest music while you go, and the bidet function lol. It’s quite an experience and America needs to bump up their toilet game asap. (Sorry, didn’t mean to talk about toilets for this long)
When we landed in Osaka, our flight had been delayed four hours so we arrived around 11pm. We wanted to go out and explore the area, but we were so tired from the travel that we decided to just check into our air bnb, sleep, and start exploring the following day. In the morning, we decided to check out Kuromon market, which was on my list of things to do in Osaka.
Oh my goodness, fresh seafood EVERYYYWHERRRE. It was hard to decide where to begin.
Those big fried things on sticks were HUGE lumps of crab meat. My arteries were quivering.
There was a long line for these grilled scallops in miso butter. After eating this, I can say that I would like to bathe in this miso butter. Fresh uni. Alex, Jay, and I walked to Dotonbori and found a ramen stand to eat at for our lunch meal. They didn’t want me to take any photos, but the ramen was very yummy.
Osaka is known for these octopus balls called Takoyaki. I really don’t like the texture of octopus, but these were good and flavorful.
Grabbing some coffee at Lilocoffee Roasters. Sooooooo good. I got a matcha latte and I’ve never had matcha so fresh.
Popular Glico man in Dotonbori. I was so happy because I see people taking photos in front of it all the time and now I finally get to do it!
Nice shot of Alex after grabbing drinks at the Family Mart and walking around.
I love the drinks in Japan. So many flavors to choose from. Cheeeeers! With the moving crab.
Visiting Osaka Castle.
Love you.. my travel partner.
MEEEEEP SHIBA There are a lot of festivals that go on during the Sakura. The best times to see the cherry blossoms in full bloom in Japan would be between late March and early April, and we just barely missed it *cries* I was so sad, but at least we got to see the last of them here at one of these food festivals going on that day. They are all so beautiful and pink and one day, I’ll visit again at their prime and weep.
Abueno Harukas, the tallest skyscraper in Japan. What a sight that was on our first night here. Japan is full of these tall buildings that have floors and floors of department stores, markets, desserts/treats, you name it. Even on the way up, they played some space-like elevator music that made the ascend so trippy and cool. I loved this observatory and wish I had taken more pictures. The top floors are both an indoor and outdoor observatory with an open roof in the middle. It was rainy that day, so when we sat in the outdoor part, we could see this breath-taking view of the city while also feeling the rainy weather outside and being able to smell the rainy aromas. So cool.
On the second day, we headed to Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. Some of the rides here were crazy. There was a rollercoaster where your feet were dangling and you’re suspended in the air totally on your stomach. It definitely messed up my stomach lol
One of my favorite things was being able to try the different theme park food that we don’t have in the theme parks in America, like hello kitty pork buns and warm matcha churros mmmmm. I spot Sailor Moon costumes.
That night, we went back to Dotonbori to try and find something to eat for dinner. Dotonbori at night is pretty special. Super crowded, but very lively. And street food everywhere. I still don’t know how to pronounce these lil savory “japanese pancakes”
The next day, my cravings for Japanese curry was at an intense high the moment I woke up. I researched some of the best places to eat in Osaka and luckily there was a good curry spot just a 10 minute walk from our air bnb in Namba. Japan is filled with all of these small restaurants that seat maybe 10 or less people which makes the food experience pretty intimate. This curry spot also had a machine that you order from, a lot like the ramen spots, and you present your ticket to the cook when you sit down. It’s pretty fast and cool.. but sometimes the buttons won’t have any pictures or english translations so you’re kinda just, blindly pressing buttons and hoping for the best. Best curry I had in Japan. I think about it daily. Namba city.
On my next post, I’ll talk about our visit this day to the Osaka aquarium, which was one of my personal highlights of our trip.