So we had thought about getting up for sunrise, and then realised that it was going to be cloudy. We got up at 6:45am instead to get those early morning photos. Phil and I went straight down to the Tori Gate and Shrine. It was so beautiful, although unfortunately, cloudy. The morning light was still beautiful and of course, only people who stayed on the island were there.
We went through the shrine again to get some different photos. Just stunning. We walked around and then headed back for breakfast. Dallas opted to keep sleeping rather than come to breakfast. Phil went back up to the room and I went out for more photos as the sun had come out. It truly was so beautiful.
I went back up to the room and relaxed for a while. We then checked out and organised the mini bus to take us back to the ferry pier. We were able to get the 11:30 ferry back to Hiroshima Peace Park. This allowed us to have some time back in Hiroshima before getting the Shinkansen. We had morning tea at this gorgeous cafe, just next to the river. It was perfect. I went back up to the Children’s Peace Monument to get a photo of it in the sunshine. After we had eaten, Dallas and Phil went to check out the point where the atomic bomb detonated. Phil stopped off at 7-11 to get some fresh sandwiches and Coke – No sugar for the train (they don’t have Diet Coke here!).
We caught a cab up to the station and boarded the Shinkansen. Dallas’ last bullet train ride. This is crazy fast. Phil has an app that can tell you how fast you are going. It clocked us at 300 km/hour. Crazy.
We arrived in Osaka and found the cab area. We got a cab down to our hotel. There seems to be a lot of well-known brands here with a little more English on signs. There are lots of tall buildings everywhere we looked. We made it to our hotel and Dallas went off to his hostel to check in. We had a tour booked at 7:30 which was an Air BnB experience with Barun. We met Dallas to have dinner beforehand at 6:30. We walked across the Dotonburi Canal to meet Dallas. WOW! This is crazy! Crazy busy and crazily lit up! It was like nothing else we’ve seen in Japan.
We decided to try a local place with lots of Japanese people inside. We didn’t understand how this place worked. We just ordered food that we liked. It had a price on it, but we didn’t understand that it was supposed to be shared and that price was per person. Whoops! So Dallas had sashimi (and had enough for 3 people), Phil had roast chicken and garlic and I had 2 prawns covered in bread. Dallas then had some udon noodles. We were very surprised by the bill as it was triple the cost that we thought it was going to be. Oh well. The food was lovely.
We met Barun our tour guide for our Hotspots and Hidden Gems tour. We can’t recommend this tour enough. It was perfect for our first night in Osaka. Barun took us into the less tourist side of Dotonbori and showed us different landmarks including a Balinese style resort right here in the heart of Osaka. Barun then took us into America Mura which translates to American Village. It was this area that the youth started meeting and made it their own area. There were young people skateboarding and just hanging out. The streetlights are all unique and shaped in the form of people. It really is a more youthful vibe here. There were lots of clothing shops selling American clothes. I will need to come back here and check it out for something for Chris.
After here, we headed onto one of the shopping streets that had been a shopping street for 400 years! Obviously it looks very different now to then. We then came across the running man billboard. We spent some time around here taking photos. Luckily we were the only ones on the tour tonight. We then spent some time walking down the main Dotonbori street. It was packed. Barun introduced us to this clown figure. There was a mannequin of it playing a drum. He is the unofficial mascot of Osaka. He originally was a mascot for a local restaurant and was made to resemble the restaurant owner. Now he is the mascot for Osaka.
We then went down this little alleyway, which looked like it went to a restaurant, but no it went to a Buddhist temple. This was the Houzenji Temple. It was a small hidden oasis of peace and calm in amongst this crazily busy city. The deity that resides here was covered in moss as so many people splash it. There was some incense burning and a Japanese family there praying. It really was a special place.
After the peace and calmness of here, we headed back into the craziness. We walked past a guy selling Turkish ice cream – Andy. He was hilarious. He was doing magic tricks for a little boy who had bought an ice-cream cone. It was super funny. He is from Istanbul and has been in Japan for 18 years.
After here, we headed past a restaurant where you can go to eat and go fishing. The tables are set up in boats and you can fish, as there are fish swimming around the boats. Eat, drink and fishing all in the one place. Perfection for some. Our last stop was at a place where they sell the local speciality, Takoyaki (octopus in balls which also include other ingredients). The guy here is called Hiro and he is amazing.
We farewelled Barun here and headed back to our hotel. We were exhausted, but so pleased that we had met Barun and gone on his tour. If you are interested you can find out more about his tour here.
What a fabulous day!