Osaka Prefecture ー After 26 hours of travel, I finally arrived in Osaka, Japan on April 3rd. I have now been in Japan for 2 weeks and am settling into my new environment. I am living with students from all around the world and together we have explored Minoh City and some other amazing places around Osaka.
Expo City is an enormous shopping mall that’s about 15 minutes away from campus by monorail. Last week a group of us went there to look around the shops and then went to an Okonomiyaki restaurant for dinner.
Okonomiyaki is sometimes described as a Japanese savoury pancake, but that doesn’t quite do it justice. The Japanese word, Okonomi (お好み) literally means “as you like,” and yaki (焼き) means “grill.” Basically, you pick what you like, whether it be seafood, pork, or vegetables, add it to the batter and grill it. At most Okonomiyaki restaurants, there is a grill at the table for you to make your own meal. Unfortunately, I’m still not used to taking pictures of everything so you’ll have to settle for a picture from Google.
Banpaku Kinen Koen
Last Monday, we went to Banpaku Kinen Koen (Expo Commemorative Park) which is right beside Expo City and was built for the Japan World Exposition in 1970. April is the best time of the year to see Japanese cherry blossom trees in full bloom and, thankfully, despite a few rainy days, the park was still in perfect condition.
Dotonbori is one of the most famous locations in Osaka. The whole area surrounding Namba station is packed with shops, bright lights, and crowds of people. So far, I’ve been to Dotonbori twice, once with some Japanese friends who went to North Bay on exchange, and another time with a group of students from Osaka University.
Walking down the streets, you can smell everything from Takoyaki to Kobe Beef and, of course, Okonomiyaki. Most of the restaurants have people out on the streets to wave in customers.
Minoh Falls is probably the most famous landmark in the city and attracts a lot of tourists in the fall when the leaves change colours. The hike from the bus station is just over 3 kilometres; however, there are a few temples and shrines along the way where you can stop and take a break. The forest is home to monkeys as well, so they keep you entertained as you walk up to the falls.
There are also a number of shops lining the path to the waterfall selling all different types of foods that are unique to the area. Momiji no tempura means “deep fried maple leaves” and is a popular snack for tourists. The most interesting food was definitely deer burgers and deer curry. Unfortunately, the food stall was closed so I wasn’t able to see what it looked like.