Spending Golden Week in Osaka, Japan
Golden Week, doesn't that just sound great?
The term is used in Japan for the long weekend that comes from a combination of a few public holidays, such as Children's Day. We have those days off in Korea too, so my boyfriend and I found the cheapest flight we could and headed to Osaka. It would be his first time and my seemingly hundredth time in Japan.
We touched down around 10am at Kansai Airport and took our time getting through immigration. My boyfriend picked up a short term data plan at the airport and I filled up our Pasmo cards for the train to our AirBnb.
We must have gotten on the local instead of the express by accident because it took a bit longer than expected to get to our apartment. We dropped our bags off at noon and immediately set out for lunch! My boyfriend is absolutely obsessed with ramen so that was our first stop. I ordered the vegetable noodles one, hoping that the broth wouldn't be pork based, but alas, it was. I still enjoyed it but to be honest I was longing for a onigiri from a conbini :)
After lunch we continued our walk towards Dotonbori, the main (read: touristy) foody center of Osaka. We forgot that Golden Week means a lot of crowds so after swimming through the mass of people we stopped in Honolulu Coffee to rest and people watch. We hit up Bic Camera so I could get some film and then headed back to the apartment to take a nap since our day started around 5am!
We rolled out of bed and since it was my turn to pick the meal, we got sushi! Then we took a long night time stroll to Kitahama and had beer (for him) and tea (for me) at North Shore, sitting on the deck overlooking the river. It's gorgeous at all times of day and that particular area has a ton of restaurants and cafes on the water! Brooklyn Roasters is another great choice!
The next morning I loaded up my film camera and we set out in search of a bakery. Because of the holiday, most places were closed but we luckily stumbled on a small cafe serving sandwiches and toast. As a result, my boyfriend has made a ham and cucumber sandwich every day this week for lunch - they made him an addict!
We then walked north to Osaka Castle and moseyed around the grounds. The line was too long for us to go into the castle, but walking around for free is still lots of fun!
We grabbed a quick bite to eat again and then hopped on a train to Nakazakicho, a quaint little neighborhood filled with small eateries, cafes, and thrift stores. We perused the shops and then took shelter in a quiet, dark cafe called Cafe Arabiq. The owner was very strict about no photos indoors but look at the entrance! How could we not go in?
Since I saw what I had set out to see that day, I let my boyfriend lead the way the rest of the day. We walked to Osaka Umeda Station and stood there for a while just watching the never ending crowds of people crossing the streets. After cooling off in the shade, we headed home for another quick rest (not before we grabbed ice cream at Gufo Groovy Ice Cream though, of course) and then were off to find one of my favorite Japanese foods: okonomiyaki.
We went into a completely random place only to realize that it was actually run by Koreans. My boyfriend was immediately skeptical that it would taste authentic but our okonomiyaki was delicious and we didn't have any complaints. Then we just wandered around taking in all the lights. Dotonbori reminds me a lot of Times Square in that most locals wouldn't be caught dead there, but secretly they still find magic in all the hustle and bustle.
My boyfriend and I are pretty similar in that we need to spend time alone in a city to really appreciate it and understand how we feel about it. So Sunday afternoon I headed to Amerikamura to check out the odd shops and eateries, while he rented a bike and went towards Tenoji. I picked up a few great vintage finds and read a book in Streamer Coffee, home to my favorite drink - the military latte. Part green tea, part chocolate, part espresso. How can you go wrong?
We met up again at the apartment because the rain we were expecting had finally arrived. We changed into better rainy weather clothes, grabbed an umbrella, and hit the town again! This time, we were getting my boyfriend from chicken karage (fried chicken) and gyoza at a great little place called Gyoza Oh! I got their roasted sweet onion in the most heavenly sauce ever!
After that, we grabbed a giant melon bread ice cream sandwich and made our way home through the downpour.
We had planned to take a day trip to my favorite city, Kyoto, but the rain made us change our minds. Looking back, I'm glad we did because sometimes I plan trips that are so packed that I don't really take a lazy day to just appreciate being in a different place.
We slept in and headed to wad omotenashi, a dreamy tea house and pottery studio where each item is made by amazing potters (they tend to keep their more expensive items for their regulars that they trust to be careful! haha!) We sat for nearly two hours just drinking tea, eating roasted rice cakes, and watching the rain. I ended up talking to one of the girls working there and buying some tea for a friend back in Seoul. It was so calming and I highly recommend this if you have a moment to spare in Osaka.
After that, we walked in the absolutely pouring rain to the Goryo Shrine and then headed home. We grabbed a ton of food from the conbini and spent the night packing, watching Japanese TV, and eating too many snacks. The next morning we headed back to Seoul feeling incredibly refreshed.
I don't know what it is about Japan, but whenever I am there I feel such a weight lifted off of me. I didn't know how much I needed this long weekend break until I took it. Thank you as always Osaka, see you again soon.