2 June 2014

Osaka "Getting under the skin of Japan"

After reading a post on Adventurous Kate I knew I wanted to go to Osaka. It sounded like my kind of place - bright lights, friendly people and food food food. It was exactly my kind of place, which is why I extended my stay by two nights. It makes such a difference staying in a hostel with other like minded people, friendly faces, recommendations and great locations. Tani9 Backpackers was just right, with the warmth and convenience I've come to come to love and also some good company to share these wonderful experiences with.

 

Osaka makes a brilliant 'base' because it really comes alive in the evening. It has the best selection of food and drinking options and is more reasonably priced. I found the people much more friendly than Tokyo and if we looked lost they would stop and walk us where we needed to go. From here you can do day trips to Kobe, Nara & Kyoto with ease. With a bit more planning trips to Tokyo and Hiroshima are also an option.



RAGDOLL Cat Cafe

After one failed attempt to find a cat cafe in Tokyo I was thrilled to see this is the 'Explore Osaka' map booklet. Conviniently located near the hostel for 1 hour and 1000 yen (around £6.50) you can enjoy the pleasure of some cute feline company. (I miss Barry Scott.)

 

I was surprised that the place was extremely clean even during the last hour of the day (9pm-10pm) and there was a strict hygiene policy. The cats were beautiful with shiny coats and seemed in very good health.

 

This was definitely one of my highlights of my time in Japan.

 

Cost: 1000 yen for 1 hour including a drink and cat treats.

Station: Between Nipponbashi and Namba station. One road back to the east of Hozenji Temple.

Top Tip: The cats may be more playful if you go towards the beginning of the day, but this is enjoyable any time.

 

Karaoke

There are lots of Karaoke bars around the Dontonbori area. I swore that I wouldn't sing but then Taylor Swift was there smiling and me and....

 

You normally hire booths by the hour and they are charged at 30 minute increments. This can also include unlimited soft drink refills.

 

You could have endless hours of fun in these Karaoke booths with your international friends. The highlight was listening to Koreans sing Gangnam Style. YES...I KNOW!

 

Cost: The booths vary according to how premium they are, but ours was charged at 700 yen (around £4.50) per person per hour.

Station: Namba/Nipponbashi station to access the nightlife centre of Dontonbori.

 

Osaka Castle

This castle in the concrete desert is surrounded by a large moat. On a sunny day families gather and laze around soaking in the rays. There were many places to buy yourself some green tea ice cream or a snack.

 

The castle escapes swarming crowds lending itself to a leasuirely stroll around its perimeter.

 

There are quite a few English signs to tell you more about this grand building and you're free to get up close to the castle without paying a single yen.

Cost: Free to see the outside. To enter the building and visit the museum it will cost 600 yen. If you pay to enter you can enjoy the views at the top of the castle.

Station: Morinomiya (C19/N20)

 

Pangea - Live Music

When I arrived at Tani9 (my hostel) they told me about this concert and as a hostel we all went the following night. It was really great to get out as a big group but also mingle with the locals. There were mixed opinions of the 4 bands playing (I preferred the first two).

 

This particular night was a 'one coin night' - it cost 500 yen entrance, but you had to then buy one drink (also 500 yen) but for a night out it was good value. It's only a short stroll from Namba station.

 

Cost: Varies - check line up @ http://livepangea.com/ (use google to translate the webpage)

Station: Yotsubashi Station (for more info check the website)

 

Bar Moon Walk & the local 200 yen bar

Outrageous you say. Fabulous I say. But only 200 yen you say. Exactly I say.

Dozens of options are available at Bar Moon Walk where a mixer is only 200 yen. You have to pay 420 yen cover charge, but this still works out incredibly cheaply. As we said "The more you drink the cheaper it gets."

I met Maria on my first day and she took me to the local 200 yen bar but unfortunately it was shutting down as the owner has heart problems. It's such a shame as it's a complete gem and we had fun chatting with the locals in their stumped English.

http://www.barmoonwalk.jp/index.html 

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