…caught in a time bubble. Cradled by the conversations of my co-passengers, I’m sipping a cranberry juice and eating Finnish chocolate while admiring the city lights of some remote Siberian village. Most people are getting rapidly bored in a long-haul flight, I’m not. You recieve plenty of food and drinks, can watch so many movies and use this free time to think.
In the full booked plane, I sat next to a French girl who is going to New Caledonia to visit her father, with a flight change in Osaka. The whole trip takes more than 24 hours! It was an interesting flight and once again I didn’t sleep at all!
After a very quick passport control and retrieval of my luggage, I take the bus to Omoya, the pension where I’ll spend the first week of my stay. In Osaka it’s so warm and sticky, with lots of mosquitos enjoying the taste of my Gaijin blood…
Humid gastronomic journey to the urban jungle
After a short night fighting the biting plague, I walk to the next station of Komyoike. There I take a train to the centre of Osaka, where I’m meeting with a Japanese friend. The weather is like yesterday, hot and sticky…
First we stroll around in Doguyasuji, an outdoor shopping center specialised in kitchen ustensils (pots, pans, chopsticks, knives, etc.) mostly for professionals with for example huge pots, takoyaki maker and very expensive kitchen knives used by chefs.
Then, after walking past the most touristic part of Osaka, the Dotonbori river with its huge crazy billboards, we go to a traditional restaurant nearby, whose speciality is “Kayaku-Gohan”. This dish basically rice seasoned with dashi (fish stock) and soy sauce along with mushrooms, vegetables, meat, or fish. I wanted to go to this place for a while. This famous restaurant is one of the few who survived the modernization of Namba. It’s been there for 120 years! It’s very small with a cosy old-fashioned atmosphere. The dishes are succulent, with a subtle and perfect seasoned dashi taste.
Next, we take the underground to the outdoor shopping center (Shôtengai) of Ten-Roku, one of my favourite places in Osaka. It’s the biggest Shôtengai in Osaka and still authentic, unlike the one of Shinsaibashi which is now only a succession of chain stores for tourists. We stroll the whole way, south to north, passing by old bookstores, tsukemono (pickled vegetables) shops, kimono stores and of course plenty of restaurants.
Later on, we return to the south of Osaka and go to the temple district of Shitennoji. The huge area is home to the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan. Each time I come to Osaka, I’m going there, enjoying not only the temple site itself but also the old traditional shops along the way from Tennoji station.
Then, it’s time to eat again! Today I have to pick up some of the luggage I left at my wife’s cousin place. That’s why we’ll have dinner early.
Last time, while strolling around with my wife, we found an old Kushi-Katsu restaurant (deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables) who looked very invitingly and authentic. Today I’ll try it! Our first impression was right, the place is really nice, runned by an old nice couple. The food is fantastic, I’m in heaven! After about 15 pieces of succulent Kushi-Katsu (among others scallops, chicken heart, sardines with shiso and umeboshi, prawns, garlic), it’s time to go home!