After visiting Osaka during the evening & night a day before (check here our first Osaka post in case you missed it!), we had the feeling that the city had a lot to offer during daylight too… and we weren’t mistaken: Dotonbori’s giant food signs and the big posters next to the Glico sign are even more surreal if you visit them when the restaurants are closed.
Dotonbori during the morning was quite a shock, we were lucky to have a hotel in the area, so just by crossing one street we were surrounded by all the restaurants and ready to have a Ramen for breakfast. Well, I’m kidding, we didn’t eat Ramen, although they had a 24h service and was perfectly possible. Instead we took our time to admire the giant signs with no tourists around, only owners of the shops starting off their day. It was fun to discover which type of restaurant was behind the shop blinds: a giant octopus must mean it’s a takoyaki, a big hand holding a nigiri for a sushi place, and so on!
In the afternoon we headed to Namba Yasaka shrine, which we had included in our wishlist after seeing a surprising picture at Kitsune-kun’s Instagram. The place looks as it belongs to a fairytale land such as Disney but it is in fact a historical shrine. What draws the visitors attention is a giant lion head (Ema-Den) with the mouth open that measures around 39 feet high and is truly impressive in person.
But that wasn’t the only wonderful thing waiting for us in that little corner of Namba: while approaching the temple we started hearing drums from inside the temple. A couple of people were gathered around the entrance, listening to a Japanese traditional drums and flute group playing inside the lion mouth, that worked as a stage. The moment was completely magical, and Dani noted the fact that the music resembled Naruto’s theme song. Ha! Sorry for our lack of deeper knowledge in traditional music, I can now read how the anime reference may sound.
Do you know that the open mouth of the lion is built to scare evil spirits? I’m sure the music helped to increase its magical efficiency!
In a perfect modern meets traditional way, from the shrine we walked towards Den Den Town, the electrical-manga-merchandising neighborhood. Den Den Town is like a shrunken Akihabara with a retro gloss; you can expect to find here stores such as Animate or K-books that are also popular in Tokyo. We bought here blind boxes and a Rilakkuma soap container (that I was looking for but had been unlucky before!), and did a lot of window shopping.
For dinner we had a reservation at a praised Yakiniku restaurant back at Dotonbori, that put a perfect ending to the Osaka experience. We almost set the restaurant on fire with our clumsy bbq skills… but hey! but that will be another day fun story.
Only for the food Osaka is a perfect stop in your Japan itinerary, but its special charm stole our hearts in many ways we didn’t expect! We were in Osaka for a short stay but since we had many recommendations we are thinking on having a separate post with our addresses here, would you find it useful that we separate into Tokyo-Osaka-Kyoto? Or an overall guide?
Next step will take us to Kyoto and I can’t contain my tears with emotion. I think it is my most beloved memory from the honeymoon and being back was going to be scary (up to our expectations?) yet a necessary stop.
Tokyo – Part I: Shinjuku & Harajuku
Tokyo – DisneySea
Hakone and the Takuminoyado Yoshimatsu onsen
Osaka – Part I: Osaka Castle, Umeda views and Dotonbori at night
Himeji Castle (& the Hello Kitty café)