Category Archives: Cities and Sites

Osaka, the Kitchen of Japan

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle

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.

 

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.

Dig Beer Bar
Dig Beer Bar
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.

 

MORE PICTURES??

Want more pictures from our time in Japan outside of Tokyo? Dan’s gallery is here, and Erin’s is here.

 

Nara, Japan

 

Nara
Nara
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.

 

Deer love Deer Cookies!
Deer love Deer Cookies!
Dan feeding the deer.
Dan feeding the deer.