Day 6 – Osaka to Kyoto

Kitahama:

It was a gloomy morning as we packed our bags and soaked in our last few hours in Osaka. We got lucky as there was only a light drizzle when we were dragging our luggage to train station.

Shin-Osaka:

We killed a couple of hours near Starbucks before we boarded our train and the ride itself was way shorter than we expected. It only took around 20 mins to get to Kyoto.

It was a quick train ride!

Kyoto:

Kyoto used to be the capital of Japan. Famous for temples, gardens, shrines and traditional wooden houses.

Within 5 mins of walking in Kyoto, we already notice how different Kyoto is compared to Tokyo and Osaka. There were fewer high rises and the architecture is completely different.

Karasuma:

Our first meal in Kyoto was at Katsukura Shijo Higashinotoin, which was a tonkatsu restaurant.

Tonkatsu: a Japanese dish, which consist of a breaded deep fried pork cutlet and often served with shredded cabbage.

We got the loin cutlet, along with yuba rolled seasonal vegetable cutlet and savory tofu.

First meal in Kyoto!

Our meal came with unlimited miso soup, rice, shredded cabbage and pickled vegetables! This was by far the best pork cutlet I ever had. I was surprised at how light the whole meal was. Usually I’m in a food coma after eating pork cutlet because of how heavy it is. I guess it might be the pickled vegetables and yuzu salad dressing that helped to negate the oiliness of the cutlet.

Nishiki Market:

We explored Nishiki Market afterwards and it was very similar to Shinsaibashi but more narrow and more crowded.

Nishiki Market

Majority of shops sold mochi, honey, seafood and tea. These food stands were completely different compared the food we often saw in Osaka. Too bad we were too stuffed. We passed by a matcha shop, Sawawa and made room in our bellies for dessert.

Matcha icecream with matcha mochi.

We got the Okoicya & Warabi, which is thick matcha icecream and matcha mochi. It was creamy and refreshing, with a slight kick of bitterness. The mochi was the star of the icecream. It was so soft that it didn’t require much chewing at all. There was no line when I ordered the icecream but as I was taking a picture of it, there was a sudden influx of people lining up for icecream. You’re welcome Sawawa.

We spent the rest of our night browsing the rest of the market, which was way bigger than we expected. Outside of the market and on the Main Street, it felt like we were walking down Herald Square. We decided to end our night early as we have an early start the next day.

Day 5 – Osaka

For our last full day in Osaka, we started the morning off with a quick, cheap and delicious breakfast from 7 Eleven. 7 Elevens in Japan are completely different compared to the ones in the States. They are exponentially better. From the selection to the employees greeting you when you come in and when you leave. (Well the latter part is pretty much a custom in Japan). It seems like a popular morning spot as well. We saw a lot of locals eating breakfast and smoking outside.

I got an egg salad and pork cutlet sandwich which was the BOMB by the way. There was horseradish mixed in with the mayo in the egg salad which gave a nice kick to the whole sandwich. I’m surprised I don’t have a picture of this, but I’ll definitely update this post once I get it again.

Tennoji:

We spent our morning at the Tennoji Zoo, which was awkwardly located in near a highway in the middle of the city. For the size, I was surprised they had a wide variety of animals. There were tigers, lions, monkeys, birds, elephants, giraffes, a polar bear and many more.

Zebra and a giraffe

Ruth playing with a ball.

Pacing

Pico the puma with unique eyes.

It was great that they had so many animals, but the enclosures seem too small for many of them. Hopefully, they are treated well.

After the zoo, we explored the markets surrounding the Tsutenkaku tower. It was the perfect time to try kushikatsu as literally almost spot around the area was a kushikatsu spot.

Kushikatsu – a Japanese styled deep fried kebab. Kushi refers to the skewers and katsu means deep fried cutlet (of meat). Apparently it originated from Osaka in the Shinsekai neighborhood.

It took us a while to find Kushikatsu Janjan since the actual restaurant name was in Japanese. Thank god for Google maps with pictures. I found Kushikatsu Janjan from a blog and what drew me to this specific restaurant was that they served scorpion.

We got a variety of meat and vegetable kushikatsu.

Yolo right?

I wanted to try scorpion at least once and it wasn’t good. It was mostly shell, kinda of similar to biting/chewing on crab shell. There wasn’t much meat and it was too much of a hassle to eat the whole thing. The other skewers were pretty good. My favorite two were the mushroom and the eggplant just because they weren’t as heavy and oily as the meat ones. Personally kushikatsu is a bit too fried for my taste. I feel like I can only enjoy it if it was freezing out.

After lunch, we checked out a discount store called Mega Don Quijote. The store basically had everything. It had a wide variety of items like a Target but felt like a 99 cent store with their flashy bright signs.

It took a while to get out the store since it was just one big maze. Once we escaped, we headed north to Osaka Castle Park. The park itself was massive and kind of reminded me of a fancier oriental version of Central Park. There were trees that looked like giant mushrooms and cats roaming around. It was a wonderful escape from the city.

Mushroom trees (I named the tree)

One of the many cats in the park

The crowds got bigger as we approached closer to Osaka Castle. Although we didn’t go in the castle, we got to appreciate the building from the outside. It was beautiful with its gold accent and color.

Got lucky with my shot with the sun shining directly at the Osaka Castle.

Yotsubashi:

We were pretty damn beat from just walking all day. It was time for a much needed coffee break at Granknot Coffee. We both got Iced Vienna coffee which came with cream on top.

The coffee itself was good and I’m not usually a big fan of whip cream. The cafe itself was pretty hipster and something you would expect to find in Williamsburg.

Umeda:

We couldn’t leave Osaka without trying Kobe beef. Especially if we didn’t have time to make a trip to Kobe, Japan for it. We ended our night with dinner at Steak Misono. We watched our steak prepared in front of us, kind of like when you eat at a hibachi restaurant. We started off with appetizers as the chef showed us our A4 Kobe beef.

Look at that beautiful marbling.

Our chef preparing the meal for us.

We watched as our chef grill our steak to perfection. Each bite melted in my mouth like butter. It was one of the best things I have ever eaten. I don’t think I can ever go back to regular steak. Despite my wallet feeling a lot lighter, no regrets. This is probably the most expensive meal we will have in Japan but totally worth it. Highly recommend trying Kobe beef, but expect that hefty bill afterwards.