On our original itinerary, we were supposed to spend two nights in Osaka. But plans changed when the majority of our group wanted to attend a baseball game in Tokyo. This meant that we had leave a day early and spend an extra night at our last hotel.
Osaka's culinary center
I didn't mind going back to Tokyo a day early, but I did want to see more of the country's second largest city. Called "Japan's kitchen," it would have been the ideal place to take a culinary tour if we had an abundance of free time. Since I often say I live for food, Osaka would have been my ideal destination. As it turned out, we simply went to the Dotonbori, which is the neon-soaked central district of the city.
We sampled some of the city's most iconic dish, takoyaki, which are fried octopus dumplings with savory sauce, mayonnaise, nori and bonito flakes. Strangely enough, NLS love this dish and will drop everything to have it, but she didn't like the takoyaki here as much as others before.
I took one bite of it, and just thought it was fine. That's probably because I'm not a huge fan of octopus, but this is likely the only way I will eat it.
We also had some gyoza, pan-fried potstickers with a pork filling:
The one thing we didn't have was Osaka okonomiyaki. Having the Hiroshima version the day before probably made this one less appealing.
Let's be samurai
Although we didn't do much exploration of Osaka, our entire group went to a samurai/ninja warrior "training" studio, Tatedo Association. It's part show and part activity, in which trained katana masters taught us how to fight with replicant weapons. Once we learned basic moves, we engaged in combat with each other. After the training, we then dressed up in costume, which was surprisingly enjoyable even though the yukata outfit I wore was a bit uncomfortable once the obi (sash) was tied around my torso.
They then performed a short skit with much faster expert moves than what we did in our abbreviated training. Finally, each person had the chance to fight the samurai master, which both NLS and JRS did. It was essentially good cheesy fun.
Missed the capsule hotel
One last detail about Osaka. Because of a misunderstanding with the hotel arrangements, most of our group stayed at a capsule hotel. Called the Nine-Hour Capsule Hotel, its name probably originates from how long you can stay there. These accommodations have compartment beds and shared bathrooms, which was something I really didn't want to do. I also thought we couldn't, because my kids were under 18. But this hotel allowed for guests 12 and up, so we could have stayed there. We ended up at a regular hotel just down the street.
Good thing we didn't stay there. Most of the adults said that because of the lack of soundproofing, they could hear every noise during the night (including snoring) and they couldn't sleep. Sometimes a mistake turns out to be the best thing. I only wish we could've seen more of Osaka.