From the japan Collection
After the weather finally let up from the downpour the day before, we decided we would make this day our day to head over to Osaka. Luckily for us, we were able to take the high speed Thunderbird train to Osaka station. During this trip, we were actually ticket checked! (We hadn't yet had our tickets checked until we took the Thunderbird.) Luckily our JR Passes allowed us on this one.
When we arrived in Osaka Station, we were not prepared for how huge it was. It is essentially a 16 story building with shops and two floors dedicated to restaurants. We chose a tonkatsu place on the 16th floor and ate a set meal of pork tonkatsu!
Okay, I'll be honest. One of the biggest reasons I wanted to visit Japan is so I could visit as many Pokemon Centers as I could, especially after the one in New York closed down. Part of the thirteenth floor was setup to sell only Pokemon merchandise. It was pretty crazy just to see how much there was. Also we got our first taste of Japanese arcades here. There were all sorts of Pokemon games to be played and people were using a BANA PASSPORT card so they could track their progress and come back later and keep playing. After buying some merchandise (and picking up a shiny Ho-oh as a mystery gift) we headed back down to the subway station to hit our next stop.
The Osaka subway has a local line referred to as the 'Osaka Loop' and as its name implies it makes a loop around part of the city. Along the loop are other train lines that shoot out of the main loop to take people to the outside parts of the city. There was one that would clearly take us to our next destination, so we hopped on the loop and took it to Bentencho Station. Then we switched over to the Chuo Line and took it to Osakako Station where we go off and walked to our next attraction, the Osaka Aqauarium, Kaiyukan (海遊館).
Osaka is also home to the Tempozan (天保山観覧車), a giant ferris wheel. We waited about 20 minutes for the special see-through carriage with glass flooring. We took a ride and got to see the entire skyline of Osaka and even its neighboring regions. Also the information in our carriage was kind enough to point out the waste disposal plant that we could see from the peak. Good to know where all of that stuff goes.
With the ferris wheel behind us we got back on the subway and headed back into Osaka to hit up Maguroya Nakatsu (芝田一丁目 まぐろや). This was easily the best tuna I have had in my entire life. I'm pretty sure we ended up ordering 15 portions of these by the end of our dinner. It was heavenly. If you are in Osaka you must try this place out for the tuna sashimi.
After dinner, we headed to Namba Station which was a quick 5 minute walk from Dotonbori (道頓堀). We checked out all the standard things, the Nipponbashi Bridge, the Glico man, the giant crab. But it felt like the most tourist-trap thing we had encountered on our trip. You walked down one of the streets and there were dozens of people trying to shove flyers into your hands to get them to eat at their restaurants. For the first time we saw tons of trash littering the street. We did manage to find a decent gyoza place, but I would say Dotonbori is not really worth visiting more than once.
After wandering around for about an hour we found the one good thing about Dotonbori. A takeout gyoza stand which had some absolutely delicious gyozas.