While our research said to take the airport express into the city and cab, it failed to mention the taxi line or that somehow the ticket we bought put us on a bus not a train to the station. Oh well almost at the end of the travel day.
Osaka is known as the kitchen of Japan, and so we came ready to eat. Because we cannot afford to do many of the things recommended by the New York Times, we were excited to be able to follow their advice our first night in Osaka. As recommended, our first stop was Beer Belly Tenma, which served beer from Japanese Minoh brewery, including a delightful peach weizen, and where we also sampled a minced-pork local specialty.
Eating french fries with chopsticks at Beer Belly Tenma.
Minced pork wrap.
Then it was on to Dig Beer Bar, just a few blocks up the road, which sported shwag from several Colorado breweries. We thankfully visited on a Japanese beer night, and we tasted several additional good local beers, and enjoyed their specialty pizza. It was a great place with a friendly atmosphere, where we enjoyed conversations with the bar tenders, who spoke amazing English, and some fellow travelers from Canada.
The New York Times tour covered, we spent the rest of our time exploring other restaurants in the city, including Mizuno, home of one of the most highly reviewed okonomiyaki (egg and yam flour pancakes stuffed with other ingredients) in Japan, and frequenting what is now my favorite tempura restaurant in the world, located in the basement of the Osaka subway station.
Best tempura shop IN THE WORLD.
Want more pictures from our time in Japan outside of Tokyo? Dan’s gallery is here, and Erin’s is here.
Nara was the first permanent capital of Japan, from about 710 to 784. The second-tallest pagoda (intricately crafted wood structures built of wood alone, with a tendency to burn down during Japan’s many famous fires) is located in the city, at a height of 52 meters. However, according to a postcard from Nara, “its solemn beauty compares favorably” with the tallest pagoda, located in Kyoto.
Nara was a terrific stop. It is filled with temples, shrines, world heritage sites, and deer. According to legend, a god is said to have once visited Nara atop a white deer, and since then, the deer have been respected and protected as “divine messengers.” These divine messengers are particularly fond of deer crackers, Shika Senbei, which can be purchased from vendors in town for 150 yen (about $1.50). Hungry deer will stand outside of vendor shops, belling, urging you to buy them some deer crackers. But, you have to hide the crackers on your way out of the shop or you will be quickly overwhelmed with eager deer. Once you start giving out the crackers, the deer get very excited, and can be just a bit intimidating. I turned around to find a male whose horns had been sheared off standing right behind me, and then I ran, from a bunch of divine deer. After feeding a couple of rounds of crackers, Dan and I sat on a picnic bench to eat a snack and I had deer all over me, rubbing their heads on my legs, and chewing on my map and shirt. Quite fun though.