Cherry blossom season is my favorite time of year. This year, my partner and I decided to go to Osaka for cherry blossom viewing.
We stayed at a hostel near Higobashi Station, which turned out to be a great location. It was near everything we wanted to see.
On our first night, we headed to Zundoya Ramen shop. I was worried that we would have to wait a long time because this restaurant is very popular, but we didn’t wait more than 15 minutes. It was rainy so that might’ve had something to do with it. What was interesting about this restaurant was that there wasn’t a person to take your order. We had to use a kiosk to order and pay.
Because this place is famous my expectations were very high, but once I tasted my ramen I saw why they were famous. The broth was the thickest and densest broth I’ve ever tasted. It had a deep, rich flavor and the pork slices melted in my mouth. The noodles were firm and they did not get soggy at all. Even though it wasn’t a large portion we did leave feeling very full. I thought we would be able to walk around and then get another snack just to taste some street food, but hours later we were still full.
The next day, on our way to the train station we saw an udon restaurant. It didn’t look special but the food looked good so we decided to give it a try. They had tempura and a special spring udon set that we decided to try. We were both pleasantly surprised at how amazing this inexpensive bowl of udon was. It was a common restaurant but they definitely put care into their food and they used quality ingredients. We liked it so much that we actually wanted to go back again, but we didn’t have time because we wanted to try as many different things as we could.
After breakfast, we headed to Osaka Castle. This is a must-see spot in Osaka and you cannot leave without seeing it. The castle is very beautiful and you can see it from Osaka Business Park Station. It’s also a beautiful spot to see the Cherry blossoms and although they weren’t fully bloomed they were still very beautiful, as was the entire park. The castle has eight floors and because the grounds are extensive I wouldn’t stay here for less than three hours. You want to take in as much of the history in the museum as possible and enjoy the beautiful park.
When we left the castle we saw some food stalls outside of the castle walls. Each one was different but we decided to get some takoyaki and beef skewers. Even though the food wasn’t spectacular, although it was delicious, the kindness and good attitude of the street vendors made the atmosphere and food better.
For dinner, we decided we would eat okonomiyaki. Osaka is known for their okonomiyaki, but my partner wanted to go to a restaurant that was known for their okonomiyaki. So we went to Ajinoya but when we saw the line we almost left. We did go at a peak time so we did have to wait for one hour, but the wait was worth it. It was the best okonomiyaki I’ve ever had and the service was great. If you aren’t in a large group you can sit at the bar in front of the grill so you get to see the cooks make the okonomiyaki. They’re very friendly and one of the cooks even posed for someone’s picture.
The next day, we decided to go to the coffee shop across the street from our hostel. The aunty from the shop had actually helped us find our hostel on our first night so we wanted to check out her shop. It was very cute inside but I wasn’t sure about how the coffee would taste. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The coffee was actually pretty great and it was all hand drip coffee. She gave us cream but because the coffee tasted so good we didn’t use it. We also ordered some sandwiches and again I wasn’t expecting much but they were good and kind of refreshing. The aunty seemed to enjoy working there and she put a lot of care into making the coffee and the little sandwiches. I hope I can go back there one day.
After breakfast, we headed to a small temple near Namba station. This temple was very interesting because the Buddha statue was actually covered in moss and the temple was tucked away in a small alley. Walking by you wouldn’t even notice it was there unless you were looking for it. It was kind of surprising to see such a small temple that was peaceful and quiet in the middle of a bustling shopping area. After praying to Buddha and asking for his blessing we decided to write a wish on an Ema before we left.
After leaving the temple we decided to do some shopping before eating lunch. There are a lot of great shops around that area so we were able to buy some gifts for my partner’s coworkers and for ourselves. We finished up and went back to the temple because there is a great sushi restaurant right next to it. When we went inside the restaurant the atmosphere felt calm and cozy. They had sushi at every price range and they had a wide variety of different fish. Even the mid-range priced tuna tasted amazing and it melted in your mouth. The tempura wasn’t greasy and the batter was thin and crispy. Overall, I was very impressed with this restaurant.
We had an amazing weekend in Osaka. It’s a beautiful city with so much more to offer than you can see in a few days. We’ll definitely be back to explore more of this great city.