While I really enjoyed my time in Kamikochi and in nature, it was time to return to civilisation.

First up was Osaka. I had to go to Takayama on the way so bought an ekiben that had Hida Beef in it.

Hida beef

It took about 6 hours to eventually get to Osaka and find the hotel. I had forwarded my luggage from Matsumoto and it had arrived fully intact. I met up with my friend a couple of hours later and we went for a wander through the touristy parts of Osaka. I was so hungry I didn’t take the camera!

We decided that as Osaka is meant to be a foodie destination that we would eat each course in different places and we would only go to places that didn’t have other tourists in them.

First up was a yakitori place, it was full of salary men. The food was great, we had a few skewers each and a few bottles of beer. That’s how the salary men were doing it so we thought we couldn’t go wrong if we followed their example.

After that we continued wandering and the name of the next place caught my eye. Nana’s fresh food. It had a diner style appeal but obviously Japanese style complete with salary men. They had picture menus which was good as my Japanese hadn’t improved at all and they didn’t speak English. I pointed to what I thought was pork chops with vegetables, the menu wasn’t far off…I got bacon with kimchi 🙂 it was very good though.

In search of desert we continued on our quest. Couldn’t see a desert place though and all the walking had made us thirsty. I made the executive decision to go into a standing bar. It is as it sounds, there are no chairs, the bar simply wasn’t big enough. This bar sold Hawaiian craft beer! Had to sample.

Fire Rock Pale Ale from Hawaii

Again, this standing bar featured salary men and one salary woman all having a good time. One of the salary men wanted to take a selfie and could fit the whole bar in it; except he purposely angled it so my friend wasn’t in the photo.

We finished that night with a soak on the roof top ‘hot spring’ overlooking the Osaka skyline.

The following day was sweltering. It was easily over 30C and for a split second I was almost tempted not to leave the sanctuary of the air conditioning. But I had a rugby game to go to and a new city to visit.

We got the bullet train to Kobe and wandered around Kobe looking for Kobe beef that wasn’t crazily expensive. We were unsuccessful. We’re talking 100g of beef for around £40! We went to a Brazilian all you can eat restaurant and paid £40 for the two of us. We walked off our meal with a walk around one of the Sega arcades and a trip to the rugby fanzone. Some how in that walk, my friend lost his towel.

To keep cool we sought ice cream. I had purple sweet potato ice cream and it actually tasted like sweet potato, I’ve no idea how they do it but they do it well.

As we made our way to the stadium, we were on the look out for people selling tickets as my friend didn’t have a ticket for the game. They’re quite easy to spot. We found one that was selling single tickets and began negotiating; after a few back and forths a price was agreed and we got into the stadium.

We had seats in different sections of the stadium so my friend joined me and was going to move when people arrived to their seats. He never had to move; what luck, he even got a free drink from some salary men that had bought too many! Scotland had a good game against Samoa, although all the fans had melted as the roof was closed and the humidity was stupidly high.

Scotland v Samoa

We planned to head a place called Minoh the next day as we’d seen enough of Osaka. What we hadn’t appreciated was that the waterfall in the nature park was at the top of a tall hill. It was another roasting hot day! We stopped at a restaurant half way up. Well at least we thought it was a restaurant from the outside. Turns out it was a place to have afternoon tea, complete with real silverware.

Coffee with a giant sandwich

We did eventually get to see the waterfall, it was really nice. Completely surrounded by tourists that had been bussed in. The place was crawling with Kiwis. Also crawling was a praying mantis, well it was until a Kiwi partially stood on it.

It was then I discovered that praying mantis’ are susceptible to parasitic worms. It was like a scene out of Alien. Tentacles sprouted out of this praying mantis and were looking for another host. It was both creepy and fascinating.

It didn’t put me off my green tea ice cream though.

We headed back into Osaka and to the roof top baths for a soak before going to the observation deck after sun down.

				
				

Having had enough of the view and seeing lightning in the distance we headed to ground leave where we had the bottle of champagne I was gifted. And of course, we needed food. The food hall under the observatory was shut and we took a wrong turn out of the maze-like food hall and ended up on the residential side of the observatory rather than the touristy bit.

It was lucky though, we found a gyoza restaurant. Turns out it had a mention in the Osaka/Kyoto Michelin Guide and after 3 plates each we agreed it was definitely worth a mention.

Gyoza

The next day we headed to Hiroshima.