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Osaka Part 2(very picture-heavy)

Posted by Shaun

The next day in Osaka, Laura and I followed the recommendations of some of the J-Hoppers guests we met yesterday and headed to Minoh, a town in Osaka prefecture that's about half an hour away from Osaka city. We were on a quest for a beautiful waterfall and some hiking. Turns out it wasn't that simple.
We followed what we thought were signs to the waterfall, and they ended up leading us straight up a mountain towards an unknown destination.
Normally, I enjoy a good hike, but mountain climbing isn't exactly my forte. I've never taken so many breaks while walking. It was pretty pathetic how tired we were.

Taking a photo of another Hankyu train out the window of our train. I was trying to photograph the river we were crossing but all I got was train and land.

Notice how this map has a straightforward path with the waterfall at the top? Yeah, shoulda paid more attention to that.

Minoh meibutsu: Momiji Tempura! Yep, I ate fried maple leaves. They were sweet and crunchy and you're jealous.

Starting up our misguided hike up the mountain.

We were starting to realize what we were in for, but we were too giddy from the smell of actual dirt and trees to turn back. Tokyo will do that to you.


Yep. Hiking straight up a mountain.

And up and up.

And up and up.

There, that's the facial expression I was going for.

And we sit down on a bench for a while.

Our hike took us up to this pretty cool view of (I guess) Minoh city. So I guess that was worth it.

After our misadventure in mountain climbing, we turned back the way we came and started searching out a place to eat. We ended up at a chain cafe on the other side of the train station, but it was pretty good and not too expensive, and we could sit down, which were all huge pluses. Then we decided to head to follow the main road and assume it lead to the waterfall.

This was also a decently long hike, but at least the signage was much clearer.

There it is, a big red arrow pointing to "waterfall." You can't miss that.
And sure enough, we finally arrived at the waterfall. I should mention that I managed to get a blister on my foot and do something weird to my hip muscle before we left Tokyo. So this was some intense walking.

"Look at how big this thing is!"
After successfully scouting out the waterfall in Minoh, we headed back to Osaka. Osaka's a great place to stay if you go to Kansai (western Japan). You can take day trips to Kyoto and Kobe, plus cool places like Himeji castle (originally part of our plan but we heard it was under some serious construction) and Minoh, and you could even jot on over to Takarazuka to see the all-female revue on its home stage (though there's a Takarazuka theater in Tokyo too).

Our mission in Osaka was dinner. And what better place for dinner in Osaka than Dotonbori? Dotonbori is a street known for its wild signage and restaurants that used to be a theater district. It really only takes a brief trip to Dotonbori to realize that Tokyo may have big buildings and bright lights, but it doesn't have a soul. I think you'll see what I mean in a moment.

Welcome to Dotonbori.

This crab sign is one of the famous landmarks of Dotonbori, according to wikipedia.

It turns out the "Bikkuri Donkey" is a chain, but their name (Surprised Donkey) and signage amused me.

I like how this sign combines takoyaki and Universal Studios (the other thing Osaka's known for)

Fugu (blowfish)

There are four of these ramen places in Dotonbori and they're recommended on the internet, but I didn't come to Osaka to eat ramen... I came for okonomiyaki and takoyaki. So we never checked them out.

This place had all-you-can-eat okonomiyaki, so we ended up going there.

The giant tanuki on the sign above the restaurant.

Coolest glass I've ever drunk oolong tea out of.

Making okonomiyaki (kimchi-squid flavor)

Laura mixing up her okonomiyaki (I forgot what flavor)

Grilling the okonomiyaki

Outside the restaurant after dinner.

Laura and I with Kuidaore Taro, one of the famous landmarks in Dotonbori. My head got too close to his arm and he almost drummed on me. Yikes.

This is the front of the Dotonbori Hotel.

I wish I knew who these guys were. They're definitely creepy, with their little feet and big noses and no bodies...
It was delicious, and an interesting adventure. Lots of fun to look at all the signs and then stuff our faces. Next time, Kyoto!

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