Friday, 8 April 2016

Osaka 1-Day Itinerary: Beyond Shinsaibashi

I have been to Osaka (大阪) three times and each time I only visited the Shinsaibashi area (心斎橋). On this day trip, I still went to Shinsaibashi but also other places. The first thing I did after I arrived in Osaka was to buy the Eco Card One Day Pass for 800 yen at the metro station. The day pass allows for unlimited use of the city’s subway, bus and tram although I only used the subway to get around.

El Poncho
My first stop was to Shinsaibashi to find a Mexican restaurant called El Poncho. The restaurant is on the 8th floor of a skinny building diagonally from Uniqlo. The decor made me feel like I wasn’t in Japan anymore. I ordered a vegetarian lunch set which came with a soup, a drink, three pieces of cheese quesadilla, and two soft taco skins to wrap the beans, sour cream, guacamole, corn, carrots and kabocha. It wasn’t the most authentic but tasted good and satisfied my Mexican food craving. It is hard to find authentic foreign cuisine in Japan so this place came close enough.

Vegetarian lunch set
I walked to Amerikamura (American Village) after lunch and looked around the shops. There are many second hand shops in the area and you can see the well known Statue of Liberty on top of a building.

Amerikamura
Statue of Liberty in Osaka
From Amerikamura I walked to Namba Station (難波) and took the subway to Nipponbashi Station 日本橋)to see Kuromon Market (黒門市場). It reminded me of Nishiki Market (錦市場) in Kyoto with the many seafood stalls and souvenir food shops. Many tourists were there buying goods and I heard more foreign languages than Japanese.

Kuromon Market
Den Den Town
I ended up walking through Den Den Town to the next station. There were many anime and electronics stores. I took the subway to Tennoji Station(天王寺)to see Abenos Haruka which is the tallest skyscraper in Japan. On the 16th floor there is a free garden deck to see the city’s view. It was a sunny day and the spacious elevator had large glass windows for a great view on the way up. I sat at one of the benches in the garden and took in the views. There are some restaurants and a cafe an escalator ride up from the 16th floor if you want to enjoy the view with some treats.

Abeno Harukas
Garden on the 16th floor
Osaka city view from Abenos Harukas garden

My next stop was Osaka Castle which was a bit of a walk from Morinomiya Station(森ノ宮. Osaka Castle was very touristy with the many food trucks and souvenir stores right in front of it. The vibe was different from the more traditionally preserved Himeji Castle only an hour train ride away. There are no food trucks at Himeji Castle and the souvenir store is outside the ticket gate, far from the main keep. However, for tourists who do not have time to visit Himeji Castle, Osaka Castle is still a nice representation of Japanese castles. That's the end of this day trip!

Moat surrounding Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle
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