A number of people on the Osaka beer scene had told me to visit Koji, who is considered to be some kind of local guru. His shop talks about it, with hundreds of bottles from all over the world sitting on tables like soldiers in training; two large refrigerators are filled with even more offers.

“I’m 70 and I love beer too much,” laughs Koji, patting his stomach as he leads me into the main room. It is a high ceiling affair with wooden rafters, giving the place the appearance of a small barn. “Soon I will retire and my daughter will take over the store. “

Koji opens a fridge and produces two sparkling bottles: a Minoh Pilsner for me and a Minoh Pale Ale for himself. He opens the lids and slowly pours their amber contents into waiting glasses. “Kanpai, he smiles, raising his glass with the pure honest I saw the reflection of so many people in Osaka. “Kanpai, “I’m coming back. We toast and drink.

Still reeling from the previous night’s revelry, this early afternoon beer is sure to help unwind, but I also know I’m drinking something way bigger than a glass. of fresh foam: I sip both history and the future, and for that – headache or not – I’m grateful.

Three insider tips

1. When looking for a decent sit-down restaurant in central Osaka, exit the main street of Dotonbori and head to the nearby Ura-Namba neighborhood, where you’ll get better food at non-touristy prices.

2. Despite its reputation as a high-tech mecca, Japan can be remarkably old-school when it comes to accepting credit cards. This is especially true in Osaka, so have plenty of yen on hand.

3. With loads of quality choices and rock bottom prices, Japan is a whiskey lover’s dream. If you want to bring it back, forget about the airport duty-free; for better choice and prices, get a bottle from a local unlicensed store instead.

ESSENTIAL

Getting there and getting around
Average flight time: 12h. British Airways and Japan Airlines fly nonstop from London to Osaka Kansai International Airport, while airlines such as All Nippon Airways, KLM, Korean Air and Virgin Atlantic all offer one-stop service from the UK. . High-speed trains connect Kansai International Airport to Osaka, Shin-Osaka, Tennoji and Nankai Namba stations. The Airport Limousine Bus and taxis also connect the city center.

When should we go
Osaka is best visited in the spring and fall, when temperatures vary between 10 and 25 ° C. Winter is cold but not freezing, while summer is hot, often humid with highs around 33 ° C.

Where to stay
The Flag hotel in Shinsaibashi has doubles from 12,000 yen (£ 83) a night. The Cross Hotel, near the Dotonbori Canal, offers double rooms from 13,000 yen (£ 91) per night.

More information
Tourism in Japan
Tourism in Osaka

How to do
Inside Japan Tours’ seven-night Kansai culture trip includes four nights in Osaka B&B and street food tour, as well as three nights of self-catering accommodation in a machiya townhouse in Kyoto, transportation to Japan, airport transfers and return international flights with British Airways from London, from £ 2,065 per person.

Published in the September / October 2020 issue of National Geographic Traveler (UK)

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