Trip to Osaka / Osaka

Monday 23/10

We wake up at 8am. We must be gone at 10am (check-out time). The weather is nice (blue sky)! Surprising since it hasn’t stopped raining for the last 48 hours.

We of course have some regrets when we see this weather and I call the owner to see if we can keep the luggage in the apartment until noon, to have the time to walk the Path of Philosophy (and visit the 2 temples: Nanzen-ji and Ginkaku-ji). But there are other guests and it may be too difficult with the key.

We go on foot to the train station, to take a train to Osaka (45’ only). Arriving in Osaka, I take the train in the opposite direction, to go and try to obtain the translation of my driving license in JAF, in the outskirts of Osaka. I then take a bus to reach the JAF office. They need one hour to translate it. I read a bit about Osaka while waiting. I go back to Osaka first by train then by metro to Namba station where I hope to be able to rent a car. Choice is limited: I only find Nissan rent-a-car. It’s rather expensive (I take the full insurance) but I guess it’s reliable. And this solution is also cheaper than the famous JR Pass according to my previous calculation. I rent an Almeda for 7 days (from tomorrow, Tuesday, until Sunday 29 when we arrive in Tokyo). It was not easy to rent this car but I think (hope) that it will give us a lot of flexibility, starting tomorrow with the visit of Himeji castle, on the way between Osaka and Naoshima island. By public transport, with our entire luggage, I could feel that it would be much too difficult (I could also witness that it affects the mood of some of us in the family…).

I reach the hotel around 3:30pm. Isabelle and the kids are waiting for me. The room is as expected: 5 futons on the floor, beside each other; on tatami mats, and… nothing else. I thought it was ok for one night. It’s the very first time (for our 100th day) that we don’t have our private bathroom. Kids (especially Florence and Jules) are happy to sleep on the floor, all together. The hotel (Zen Labo Osaka) is super central; it is the most important for us.

We have basically only a (late) afternoon and an evening in Osaka. We will only focus on Minami (with Dotombori and Amerika-Mura districts), the South part of the city. We mainly want to see the flashy neon signs and the vibrant street life that one expects of Osaka.

Today we take it easy: we plan to follow the walk recommended by the Lonely Planet (2.5 km, 2.5 hours). But we first go to the Kuromon Ichiba market (always difficult for me not to go to a market), an Osaka landmark for over a century. Vendors sell fresh fish, meat, produce and pickles. We eat street food today. Black vanilla ice cream for the kids, French crepes for Florence and Isabelle, sweets and chips for the kids.

We start the Lonely Planet walk in Dotombori. With its glittering neon lights and plenty of restaurants and theatres, this is Osaka’s liveliest night spot. The canal is lined with pedestrian walkways and many illuminated billboards glittering off its waters. There are a lot of people in the streets. Above all, Osaka is a city that loves to eat; all the restaurants are full and there are long queues even for street food.

We then take the long Shinsaibashi-suji Arcade.

For dinner, we try the local specialty of tako-yaki, doughy dumplings stuffed with octopus and grilled in special-made moulds, sold as street food. We also eat ika-yaki (grilled squid, served in a thin crêpe splattered with egg, mayonnaise and sauce) in the beside food stall.

We walked back the kid to the hotels around 7:30pm and we continue for one hour. We all enjoyed this (short) time in Osaka. It also gives a totally different view of Japan than Kyoto.

We then come back to the hotel to work on the blog and to prepare the next days (Naoshima island).

It’s again quite late when I go to bed: 1:30am.

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