Experiencing the Kansai Charm: Osaka
Osaka has always been my first stop in when travelling to Japan. Osaka is a designated city in the Kansai region of Japan. Many people compare Osaka to Tokyo, but I think they each have their unique charm. Osaka is a perfect combination of traditional and modern Japanese culture.
In my mind, this is the place that represents Osaka best. It's heaven for shopping, food, and stunning night views. It is impossible to take a look at every shop, because there are so many of them, both no the streets and in the alleys too. Dotonbori is my absolute favorite. The street is full of giant 3D signs, so creative and magical like a view from a movie. If you see the big octopus sign, it's the shop for Takoyaki. There are several of them along the street, and you can't miss it! I love this classic Japanese snack so much, sometimes I even get it in New York. But Takoyaki in Osaka is always the most authentic and delicious one for me!
Dotonbori in the early morning is drastically different. Without the crowds and dazzling lights, the streets are so quiet and empty, like it hasn't woken up yet. It was difficult for me to picture what Dotonbori would be like without all the people before I actually saw it. This completely different view was charming to me.
Two desserts you can't miss at Dotonbori:
·Rikuro-ojisan no Mise Cheesecake
This is the most delicious cheesecake I've ever had! So incredible! It's on one of the main streets, and whenever we passed by it, there was always a long line. The cheesecake is so moist and soft. I simply couldn't stop myself and finished 3/4 of the entire cake!
I'm so obsessed with cheesy desserts. Pablo Cheesetart has been on my list for so long! The cheese flavor is so rich. I love every component of it: the jiggly gem on the top, soft creamy tart, and the delicious thin crust!
Hitakara is a city about 40 minutes away from Osaka. There are trains that directly go there, very convenient. T-site is a huge bookstore located near the Hitakara station. When I first saw it online, I was stunned. These giant walls of books are my ultimate dream! The design of the bookstore has the modern, simple, clean Japanese architecture style. All the books on the shelves add layers of colors! There are also many cute shops, cafes, and restaurants in the building. You can easily spend a whole afternoon here.
Another postcard place in Osaka. If Dotonbori represents the modern, energetic side of Osaka, then Osaka Castle represents the history of this city. I came to this place when I first visited Japan before college, this time I really wanted to revisit again. We went there late afternoon just to avoid the crowd. The glow of sunset covers the castle with gorgeous golden color. There weren't many people in the park anymore. Everything was so calm and peaceful.