First Impressions

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
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.

Picture from Trip Advisor (Toraju Okonomiyaki Restaurant)

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 
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.


  1. Hi Zack
    Congrats on the scholarship.
    We are all very proud of you on the street, I look forward to your photos. My advise to you, is go to the nearest Nikon dealer and get a good camera and learn how to use it. You will have opportunities to see and document things most will never have. The photos you have posted are excellent. I know you have an eye pfor photography. Keep up the good work. Look forward to your posts.
    Bill Chirico


  2. Zack,
    Bob and I are so happy for you to have this wonderful experience in Japan. We will miss seeing you when we visit North Bay, but we know you will enjoy your time and studies abroad. I will actively follow your blog to see what you’re up to. Congratulations! You are very deserving of this opportunity.


  3. So enjoyed the history lesson and the wonderful pictures. Would love a taste of all those delicious dishes. Exciting seeing it through your eyes. Thank you Zack. Cheers from North Bay. Noreen


    • Hi Noreen!

      So nice to hear from you! If you ever make it over to this side of the globe, let me know. I would be more than happy to introduce you to the amazing food and culture in Japan.

      Best Wishes!


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