Osaka is Quite Possibly the Coolest City Ever

WE’RE IN JAPAN!

When we started out on this journey, nearly eight months ago, I thought I’d be updating the blog far more often. As it turns out, when you’re traveling around the world it’s really easy to get wrapped up in all the fun you’re having and completely forget about your blog ambitions. Whoops. For those of you who are wondering, here’s everywhere we’ve been so far:

Nepal –> (Southern) Thailand

(Southern) Thailand –> Myanmar

Myanmar –> (Northern) Thailand

(Northern) Thailand  –> Laos

Laos  –> Vietnam

Vietnam  –> Cambodia

Cambodia–>  Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka  –> Indonesia

Indonesia –>  Japan

Whew. I can’t believe we’ve covered so much ground! Although Japan wasn’t originally on our radar, it’s quickly becoming my favorite country of the trip (and we’ve only spent four days here).

We’re currently in Osaka, which is the second largest city in Japan. We weren’t sure what to expect of Osaka but it’s been blowing our minds! There’s so much to see and do it feels like sensory overload–in a good way.  The city seriously has everything: amazing architecture, mouthwatering cuisine, friendly people, clean streets, eye-catching fashion, and more whimsy than the Alice in Wonderland ride at Disneyland.

We’ve been doing lots of walking (8-10 miles a day, thanks iPhone health app), but we’ve wound up in completely unique areas of the city each day. Here are some of the highlights from our past four days in Osaka!

Of course we started our visit with two fat bowls of ramen. The restaurant Ippudo was recommended to us upon arrival and it was–hands down–the best ramen I. have. ever. had. It’s ruined me for ramen back home.

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Osaka is the ideal place to visit for someone who loves shopping. In four days, we’ve wandered (intentionally and sometimes not) into at least six or seven massive shopping malls. You can find everything from vintage kimonos to cutting edge rave gear.

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During our travels we’ve encountered many kind people. However, I would say people in Japan have regularly gone out of their way to show us kindness. This man featured below, Yoshi, stopped us on the street to talk to us about his jogging club and offered several excellent tourist recommendations. He wanted to take a selfie with us–we obliged and asked him to return the favor.

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Tay and I love sushi and have been ecstatic to get fresh fish straight from the source. Japan, you have our fishy hearts.

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This sushi spot is located on our block and stays open until midnight. JUST LOOK AT THAT SALMON.

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We stumbled into an owl cafe and spent 20+ minutes talking about Hedwig’s plight in Harry Potter.

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In Japan, growing up seems totally optional and bright colors are embraced when it comes to shops and restaurants.

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This construction worker didn’t understand why I wanted to take his picture…

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Ahem, it had everything to do with these excellent Hello Kitty barriers!

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Although Japanese people dress and act quite conservatively in public, their restaurants are boisterous as can be. Here’s a shop that sells a delicacy–fugu a.k.a. pufferfish.

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We’ve seen countless tributes to Billiken, “The God of Things As They Ought To Be.” But assuming that you are where you’re supposed to be, isn’t everything as it ought to be? Thoughts to ponder during our walk through Osaka…

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While visiting the bustling Shinsekai neighborhood we leapt at the chance to jump into a life-size Pocky box.

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And at the recommendation of our new friend Yoshi, we sought out the famous Glico man sign in the Dontonbori neighborhood. There were dozens of people waiting to take pictures with him.

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I’ve been pushing for a furry friend for quite a while. After visiting a few pet shops in Osaka, I think a legitimate Japanese Shiba Inu would be a perfect fit for our small family. Wink wink.

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Here’s a snap of the Dontonbori neighborhood at night. The streets are full of Japanese locals hunting for excellent shopping deals and great food.

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If you’re not into window shopping or pigging out, first of all, you might be boring. Secondly, there’s still a world of cultural wonder to explore in Osaka. Below is an image of the Isshiniji Temple in Osaka. We came at noon on a Friday and saw hundreds of people worshipping and having their prayers read aloud by monks; what a beautiful place!

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Visitors to Osaka also need to make a mandatory trip to Osaka Castle. There were hordes of school children and tourists (ourselves included) but it was a beautiful and enlightening visit nonetheless.

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One of our last stops in Osaka was at the Shittenoji Temple, which was built in 593! The 1500 year old temple grounds house this beautiful cemetery.

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This was a whimsical sign about construction on the grounds. How could you not want to live somewhere where cartoon cats are an acceptable way to make major announcements?!

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Lastly, here’s a temple from inside the temple’s courtyard. We climbed the stairs inside the five-storey pagoda and were greeted by sweeping views of the city. Osaka truly is a magical place and I can’t believe we stumbled our way into staying here for a week. In the words of our new spirit/jogging guide, Yoshi, “I love Osaka!”

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