Even if Osaka is a main city in Japan, no one really recommended to make a stop there.
But since it’s described as the kitchen of Japan, we HAD TO go!
1 – Hotel
Spending 17 days in Japan, will not be the same budget as other Asian options. Sometimes, you might choose a cheaper option for your accomodation.
You probably heard of “capsule hotels“, this unique concept created here, in the land of the rising sun. It’s supposed to target locals who party late after work and don’t manage to get a train back home.
Recently a new concept has been developed “First Cabin Hotel“: it’s like travelling first class inside a plane! Since we wanted to experience as many cultural specificities as possible, we were like “why not?”. In addition, it also helped saving a little on our housing budget.
First, the location is absolutely perfect! In the heart of Osaka, few steps away from Dotonbori street and just on top of a main subway station: Nanba.
Actually you can get an elevator directly from the subway to the hotel, which helps when you are carrying your luggage.
When you get to the lobby, you are given two different keys, since men and women are separate on different floors! Yep, so don’t go there if you are looking for something romantic 😉 This is how it looks on women floor:
There are containers placed one after the other and you have your “room” inside. This is how it looks inside your cabin:
As you can tell, there is not a lot of light inside. Actually we had no windows at all. The cabin is large enough to welcome your luggage but as you might have noticed, there is no door but a curtain. I had no problem with that: I just carried my valuables with me during the day and that’s it.
If I had to mention one limit, it would be more the noise issue. If you are unlucky to have a snoring neighboor, well, either you deal with it, or you can buy ear plugs at the lobby!
I really enjoyed the bathroom and the onsen! Yeah, who would expect an onsen in this place???
Wifi is available for free and you can easily get breakfast at the stores in the building!
If you feel like trying capsule hotels, I would totally recommend First Cabin. As far as I know, they can be found in Osaka, Kyoto and Tokyo.
Osaka deserves its title as “Kitchen of Japan“! There are plenty of options from street food to gourmet restaurants. Unfortunately, there are only 4 meals in 2 days….
Everywhere, you will read that “Takoyaki” is the region specialty. I love octopus, and got very excited to try those. But to be honest, I might have chosen the wrong one in the streets but I didn’t find it very tasty… It was fun to watch them preparing the little balls though.
If you are looking for a traditional Japanese restaurant in Dotonbori, there is this place called IMAI, which is recommended on the Lonely Planet guide.
We saw few tourists but also locals. We had delicious soba noodles and tempura. The service was very nice, polite and fast! We enjoyed our meal a lot.
Check their tripadvisor ratings here!
We also had fresh sushi while visiting Kuromon market! We went to this place called Kuromon Sanpei since it was very busy and their sashimi looked fresh.
You can choose your food from the display (as I did) or you can order a menu at your table (it comes with miso soup). I really wanted to try their sashimi, so I got two options and loved them both!! There is free tea available to pair with your meal. If you enjoy being in the middle of a food market atmosphere, this is somewhere you have to go. You will find plenty of options from fish, to meat, ramens and all kind of Japanese food. There was even a stand selling red tuna directly out of the fish!
If you are a meat lover, you’ll probably notice that Osaka is right by the city of Kobe, hometown of the tastiest meat on earth! The restaurant Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M had been recommended to us by our hotel (and was also number two on tripadvisor). We definitely had to book a table before going and managed to get a sit only at 7.30 pm…
We got there and had our own little booth closed with a curtain. In the middle of the table, there is a grill where your meat will be preapred later.
On the menu, you can decide which part of the animal you prefer (and basically what budget you have for your meal cause it’s basically from simple to double!!) and you can have a menu if you want to try several options.
Once you place your order, a piece of fat is brought to you and will later be used as “oil” to spread on the grill before cooking the meat.
The meat is served with vegetables and pickles. We had fun cooking ourselves the food and there is no doubt about the quality and the great taste.
However, I really had the feeling that they wanted to rush us to give the table to the next couple and I also had the feeling there were small quantities for the price we paid… If budget is not an issue for you, if you are a meat-lover, if you want to impress your girl: then you should totally go!
I barely talk about desserts, and I would like to mention here something I discovered in the market: Oobanyaki. It’s a sweet pancake filled with different creams. I had the one with custard cream. Since that day, I had to eat one everyday until my last day in Japan. Really loved those, so yummy!!!
For the first time while in Japan, we had a guided tour. We chose “Osaka Safari” since it had been recommended by a friend and also by the French agency “Vivre le Japon”.
We got the “Half-day” option. Angelo met us by 9.30 am in the hotel lobby and we stayed together until 1.30 pm. Angelo has been living in Osaka for a couple of years now and he is very knowledgeable about the country and its culture. At the beginning, we had no idea where he would take us and he decided to walk us to places that are not necessarily in your tourist guides.
We love doing things by ourselves but I have to admit it was great having a guide, asking questions about the culture and just not having to pay attention where you are going 🙂
We did not make it inside Osaka Castle but had a great walk in the gardens. We were there during Golden Week so the line to get tickets was insanely huge.
There was a traditional drums show in the gardens with men dressed like samuraïs.
Tempozan Ferris Wheel was a huge highlight during our trip. We went there late afternoon and had a beautiful sunset!
The view was terrific, and so was the light. We enjoyed taking pictures and it was definitely a cheesy romantic moment ❤
You can not go to Osaka without chilling in Dotonbori street at night. I have to admit I thought it was a lot of fun and I was really impressed by the 3D characters!
If you want to finish your day on an unexpected note, there is a unique place called Panic Rabbit 84 Cafe! I read few articles about this place before going and it reminded me of the Box in NYC. So I really wanted to try and I sent an email to make a reservation for 2.
The place is very small, it can welcome up to 12 guests per session. The stage is very close and the hosts are soooo much fun! We were the only non-Japanese that night and we had a lot of fun. I loved the ladies and I wish them a lot of success with this place . I recommend Panic Rabbit 200%!
That’s it for our tour in Osaka! We had a GREAT time and if you travel to Japan, Osaka must be in your list 🙂
I hope all these tips help. If you have a question, feel free to ask.
Our next stop is Tokyo. Follow us here!
To check our tour at a glance, go here.