We woke up to gorgeous blue skies on our first morning in Japan.
Here’s the awesome view from the 14th floor of the Namba Washington Hotel!
You can see the iconic Doraku crab sign in Dotonbori Street on the left.
Here’s a sneak peek of our room. It’s compact, but very comfortable and clean.
Oh, in case you didn’t already know, most Japanese toilets come with a ‘warm water rinse’ after you’ve used the toilet.
I was a bit too scared to try them, but Ry reported back that the ‘shower’ one was effective, but the ‘bidet’ was more of a single, strong spray of water which was a tad more painful…
Anyway, that’s enough about our hotel and toilet features.
Check out this adorable vending machine next door!
Again, we popped in Dotonbori across the road to explore a little more during the day.
If you missed our previous post, Dotonbori is one of Osaka’s most popular tourist destinations. It is a fashionable shopping and entertainment district, along with being a great destination for food!
As promised, here’s the famous Glico Running Man sign!
It was quite the tourist attraction.
I was rather excited to find a 2 storey Monki, one of my favourite shops! (If you’ve never heard of them, they’re basically a cheaper version of Topshop/Urban Outfitters, but still great quality).
I restrained myself to purchasing just 2 items, which were worn lots throughout the rest of the trip, so WIN WIN 😉
While I had a quick rummage, Ry explored the other shops a little more and returned with a bag of delicious cheesy wedges from Subway!
We also spotted this tour-leader using a Rilakkumi toy to guide his group.
Only in Japan!
We continued down the next street, which we hadn’t visited on the previous night.
Pretty much how we’d always imagine city life in Japan to look i.e. streets lined with adverts and neon signs.
Ry popped into the shop to grab a bottle of water and obviously came out with some chocolate too…
This is Kuidaore Taro, who was first placed in front of a restaurant in 1950 and became a local landmark.
After all, Osaka is known as the city of ‘kuidaore,’ meaning ‘to ruin oneself by eating and drinking to excess.’
After the restaurant closed in Jully 2008, Kuidaore Taro was loaned out for events across the nation. The mechanical drummer, a symbol of Osaka, returned to the Dotonbori area and was installed in front of a commercial complex. It’s another popular tourist attraction.
If you remember from our previous post, Ry was after something by the canal…
It’s so impressive watching them make these little balls of heaven.
After exploring Dotonbori, we set off to Shinsekai, which is literally translated into ‘new world.’
Ironically, it is an old neighbourhood located next to South Osaka City’s downtown ‘Minami’ area.
The neighbourhood was created in 1912 with New York as a model for its southern half and Paris for its northern half.
Although I’ve never been to New York or Paris, I didn’t really see the influence, besides the fact that the original tower was patterned after the Eiffel Tower, but it was severely damaged in 1943.
As a result of minimal redevelopment after World War 2, the area has become one of Japan’s poorest.
Despite its commonly held reputation as Osaka’s most dangerous area, Shinsekai boasts a colourful history and unique identity
At the beginning of the 20th century, the neighbourhood flourished as a local tourist attraction showcasing the city’s modern image.
It boasts a range of low-cost restaurants, cheap clothing stores, cinemas and arcades.
Speaking of arcades, we found one which had some amazing photo-booths!
You get to pick the backgrounds and themes/poses that you’d like to use before going in.
However as everything’s in Japanese, we just pressed a few random bits and hoped for the best…
After doing the funny poses, the photos are automatically photoshopped to make you resemble a anime character i.e. big eyes, perfect skin, pointy chin etc.
Next, you go into another room to add your finishing touches, such as hearts, cat ears and writing etc.
This was my personal fave 😉
The final product!
They’re absolutely hilarious and so much fun to do, so we’d thoroughly recommend giving them a go if you’re in Japan!
For lunch, we opted for some tasty sushi and sashimi.
This place was great as they asked you if you’d like wasabi in the sushi or separately, so that saved me having to pick it out! 😀
We didn’t realize that there was a zoo in Shinsekai, so we decided to check it out as it was pretty cheap!
Opened in Janurary 1915, Tennoji Zoo was the third zoo to be built in Japan.
It currently houses about 1000 animals of 230 different types in an area of around 11 hectares.
The first thing we saw as we entered.
Hippos are awesome!
This was the first time we’d ever seen a koala bear in real life.
Great shot by Ry 😀
Although we enjoyed seeing so many animals, we were upset to find most of them in very small, not well maintained cages.
Moreover several big cats were aimlessly walking around in circles, looking very dazed and hopeless.
Personally we think that there are so many other great things to do in Japan that you could give this zoo a miss.
This postcard makes me laugh so much!
We left at closing time and wandered around the shops a little more.
How adorable are these stickers?!
We bought quite a few 😉
As the centerpiece of Shinsekai, of course we went up the Tsutenkaku Tower, literally translated as ‘the tower reaching to heaven.’
Not before getting a photo inside a giant box of Pocky, obvs.
The current tower is the second to occupy the site. The original tower was patterned after the Eiffel Tower and built in 1912. At the time of its construction, its height of 64 meters made it the second tallest structure in Asia. It quickly became one of the most popular locations in the city, drawing visitors from all over the area. The original structure suffered a fire in 1943 which severely damaged it. However instead of repairing the structure, it was disassembled and the steel was used for the war effort.
After the war, citizens wanted to have the beloved tower rebuilt. Consequently a private company, the Tsūtenkaku Kanko Co. Ltd. was established and Tachu Naoto, Japan’s “Father of Towers” was selected to design it. The new, eight-sided structure was opened in 1956.
Its total height is 103m and the main observation deck is 91m.
On the fifth floor observation deck, Billiken, the God of Happiness or ‘things as they ought to be’ is enshrined. It is a popular symbol of good luck and each year, thousands of visitors place a coin in his donation box and rub the soles of his feet to make their wishes come true. (Sorry, we didn’t actually get a photo of this!)
Ry and Kinnikuman, the main character of an anime which featured some fight scenes on top of the Tsutenkaku Tower!
The boxers of Ry’s dreams in the gift shop 😉
Hanging out with ‘everyone’s favourite Kinnikuman superhero,’ Robin Mask!
The LED lighting of the tower is changed every two months.
Hitcahi has sponsored the tower since 1957 and the light designs usually spell out Hitachi adverts, while the other side is usually occupied by a public service announcement.
The lights on top of the tower show tomorrow’s weather by a combination of different colours.
As we walked towards the train station, I noticed these adorable drawings on the side of a sushi restaurant.
The Japanese have really got this cute thing down!
We also stopped off for a little snack of takoyaki balls at a cosy little restaurant.
After refueling, we set off to Shinsaibashi, known for its collection of high scale brand shops.
However I was more interested in an area within it, known as Amerikamura.
This is known for its youth culture and status as a trendsetting area. Unfortunately most of the shops were almost shut by the time that we got there, but it was still fun to look around the ones that were still open.
For dinner, we popped into a small restaurant owned by a sweet old couple who served us some rather delicious nosh!
Our dishes included: fried chicken and vegetables; pork, sweetcorn and buttery ramen; a side of fried vegetables.
For dessert, we opted for fro-yo.
They had so many flavours to choose from! We went for lychee, chocolate, banana and raspberry!
(My fave was the raspberry, while Ry loved the banana one).
NOM NOM NOM!
That’s the end of a jam-packed day of exploring!
Hope you’ve enjoyed the ride 😉