Japan has always been a special place for me. Immersing myself in Haruki Murakami’s captivating world as a 20-year-old led me to dream of a country of color and solitude. I lived vicariously through his lonely, pensive male characters. Visiting Tokyo, then, was a dream I kept reliving, and I had the opportunity to continue my love affair with Japan – this time in Osaka.
From crowded subways littered with homegrown clothing brands, restaurants, and coffee shops, each space offered something new. We stayed in a small Airbnb in Nishinari-ku, a 5-minute walk from the Tengachaya Station. I experienced a more provincial part of Japan – a small, quiet town with a supermarket that closed at midnight. Every day, I would eat my curry – my stomach would regret it, I won’t – and the dreamiest vanilla mochi ice cream available in convenience stores. People were warm but kept to themselves.
I encountered my first winter, learning how to layer a turtleneck after another and finishing off the entire outfit with a mustard-colored wool coat I got on sale. I praise the Lord for Uniqlo’s Heattech Technology (and my pink Nike rubber shoes). The cold felt all kinds of wonderful, a reprieve from sunny Manila.
Where to go?
- Universal Studios: I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve only read 4 books from the Harry Potter series. *prepares to be ostracized* Die-hard follower or not, everyone can relive a part of their childhood in Universal Studios (for ¥7,600/P3,300). Prepare yourselves for a lot of waiting and walking. Have your power bank fully charged for an endless amount of Insta-worthy spots.
- Dōtonbori: For a black hole of good food open until the wee hours of the morning, Dōtonbori is a must visit. The large, eccentric signages point out the food being sold in each area. You can also do some crazy shopping. You’ll find international brands like Forever 21 and H&M here, which isn’t common in other areas. It’s best to visit at night because it’s more alive and incredibly beautiful – perfect for photo opportunities.
- Daiso: You won’t run out of discount stores in Osaka. Perfect for pasalubongs, Daiso is a treasure trove of super cheap gifts and trinkets like stationery, clothing, and make-up. Most items are ¥100, so don’t forget to get something for yourself, too.
- 3 COINS: If you’re not yet done shopping, 3 COINS carries everything at ¥300. With 3 available types of stores (3 COINS, 3 COINS + Plus, and 3 COINS OOOPS!), you can easily find these in the subway. They carry a lot of trendy items targeted amongst teenagers like self-tie chokers, colored socks, and graphic tote bags. I even purchased my pretty mirror, which I use as a make-up holder there!
- Tsutaya Ebisubashi: Finding Tsutaya in the midst of busy Dōtonbori for the bookworm in me was priceless – though I left with a magazine, or 2. I enjoyed 5 glorious stories of books, cosmetics (!), and CDs. A Starbucks is also situated on the 1st floor, where you can rest after a full day of shopping and eating. Just know it’s a particularly crowded area – with locals and tourists alike – so it isn’t the quietest spot.
- IKEA Tsuruhama: It took a kind Japanese local and her daughters to bring us to the free IKEA shuttle bus service in JR Namba Station, a 15-minute ride away. Of course, I had to have the infamous Swedish Meatballs served with mashed potatoes, lingonberry jam, and green soybean.
Watch: Best Things to do in Osaka via Erwan Heussaff
Anyway, I’m sorry for the lack of information since this trip was so spontaneous! We also prioritized more shopping spots, oops. I’m coming back over the summer and will definitely explore, take down notes, and prepare a more informative entry. Enjoy your weekend – wherever it may take you. Sayōnara! 🇯🇵
For more photos from Osaka, follow me on Instagram: @shemakeshimknown.