I had a quick trip (2 nights) to Osaka, Japan in early September. It was a business trip on short notice. Luckily, I upgraded myself to business class with Japanese meals. In case you don’t know, you can request a Japanese meal if you are flying business to and from Japan on United. It is a standard option for everyone in business class but it often runs out quickly. However, you can call United to request one before your flight.
This is my second time in Osaka but I don’t remember much about it from my first trip about 15 years ago. This time, I flew in to Kansai International Airport which is a landfill in the middle of the bay. It is about an hour by train from the city center. I took an express Nankai train to the city center. I had a reserved seat and there were only a few stops at main stations along the way.
The train and subway system in Japan is somewhat easy to use and there are English signs in most places. I was able to navigate myself most of the time. I really enjoyed exploring Shinsaibashi district and Dotonbori district where there are many shops and restaurants. If you go, don’t miss the neon signs along Dotonbori canal. The most famous sign there is the Glico sign.
On my first night, I was craving tonkatsu and I found this local restaurant near Dotonbori district. This is a place where you order your food on a machine outside the restaurant first. This kind of restaurant doesn’t offer table service. It only has a counter around the kitchen. You go to the machine, insert money, pick what you want to eat, take the ticket(s) inside and put them on the counter where you sit, the chef will take your ticket and get you food. Most dishes come with noodles. The food was great and it only cost me 480 yen. For water, you can help yourself from cups and water pitchers available on the counter. After you are done eating, make sure to use the available cloth to wipe down your area. No need to tip in Japan.
On my second night, I got to try Torikara stick (fried chicken meat stick). It was pretty good. They offer many sauce options but I didn’t try any since I couldn’t understand what they were.
One of the most famous tourist places in Osaka is Osaka Castle. It is an easy walk from Tenmabashi station. The castle area is pretty big and the castle itself is beautiful. You can go inside the castle which is now a museum. You have a nice view of the city from the 7th floor of the castle. The elevator will take you up to the 5th floor and you can walk up to the 7th floor.
A few random things I learned from this trip about Japan.
– The close and open buttons in elevators really work in Japan
– It is hard to find free WIFI in Osaka. The only place I found was at Apple store.
– It was hot and humid in September.