Friendly, charming, easy to navigate, would definitely visit again. In a nutshell, this is Osaka. It's a pretty big city but has a small town vibe, traditional, homey, hip, and home to some of the best food in Japan.
Where to Stay
First things first, where to stay. That all depends on what kind of environment you like. Do you like being in a bustling neighborhood in the midst of all the touristy places? Or prefer a quiet space? I prefer the latter with the option to jump in a taxi or the train to head to my destination. In Osaka, I stayed at a really cool hostel in a quiet neighborhood. Hostel 64 is housed in a renovated building from the 1960's. The place gave off some cool vibes, had a mini bar, traditional rooms, bilingual staff, and were very helpful and accommodating. Click here for the hostel site.
Friday Day 1: Osaka Castle + Ramen
On the first day, my boyfriend and I kinda slept in. Once we were up, we had coffee and toast at the small cafe that also served traditional Japanese breakfast with a modern twist. We then headed to the Namba train station to do some shopping (tech gadgets) then we were off to Osaka Castle. This truly was a beautiful park and the surrounding grounds also had temples here and there. We also tried some takoyaki and did some souvenir shopping after the castle. All that walking around and sightseeing made us hungry. So we headed to a ramen place nearby. The ramen place, MENSYO KEIJI(麺匠 慶次), is walkable or you can take a taxi. By the time we got back to the hostel it was close to 10 pm. We had whiskey highballs and mini Asahi cans as a night cap. Not a bad first day!
Saturday Day 2: Asahi Brewery Tour + Momofuku Ando Noodlecup Museum
On the second day, we had an early wakeup call because we had a brewery tour scheduled for 10am, lol. We headed towards the Asahi Brewery so early in the morning that we did not have time to have a proper breakfast. The tour was free and had to be scheduled in advance, but the best part was the free beers/tasting/snacks at the end! I recommend this tour specifically because of this. After this, I was really hungry and in need of some food. Next to the train station is a cute little breakfast diner, so we had pancakes and coffee before heading off to the ramen museum.
Next up was the Momofuku Ando Noodlecup Museum. Its an homage to the guy who invented instant ramen. This place is not to be missed because admission is free PLUS you can make your own ramen for about $3. Pretty neat, if you ask me.
Both of the the above museums wore me out so naps and sushi were needed before heading out to Dotonorobi for drinks and karoke.
Sunday Day 3: Nara Park & Shopping (and Eating)
On Sunday, we had a bit of a late start because we wanted to sleep off our hangovers. Once we were up and ready we decided that today was a good day to visit Nara Park. Its a kind of a trek there but so worth it. Once you get off the last train and emerge onto the street, there is so much shopping and eating to do. I was starving so sushi was in order! After that the park was not too far so we walked around for a couple of hours and fed the deer. After the park I checked out some of the winding roads that were lined with shops and picked up some souvenirs. We probably walked around for 6 or 7 hours. The train back to Osaka was basically all naps. For dinner, I had hankering for some Indian food, and after that I headed back to the hostel to pack for an early flight on Monday. So there you have it! Osaka is pretty easy to navigate, has an amazing train system, and everyone is friendly and always willing to help you find your way. We even made some friends along the way!