oh

saka is considered the food capital of Japan and while it may not always top most travelers’ must-see lists, it is worth a visit to sample the wide variety of local cuisine on offer and to immerse yourself in it. the Osaka philosophy. ‘kuidaore’ – to eat, drink and enjoy life!

Like Tokyo, Osaka is a bustling place with neon lights and quaint streets wherever you turn, but on a much smaller scale than the Japanese capital. While there are a few tourist attractions, like the impressive Osaka Castle and the Aquarium, Osaka is really all about the food. It is also an ideal base for day trips to other cities like Hiroshima, Kobe or to visit the Buddhist monks of Koyasan.

Like much of Japan, each restaurant specializes in a different cuisine, and the best way to mingle with locals is at some of the city’s best hotspots with a tour offered by Inside Japan Tours, who craft tailor-made itineraries for you. any interests, budgets or deadlines. As you tour the streets of Osaka, a local expert explains everything you eat and even explains how you can recreate the star dishes at home.

The first thing all food lovers should do is visit Dotonbori. Part of downtown Osaka and truly the place to be, Dotonbori is home to some of the best restaurants in Osaka (you’ll spot the right places by the queues forming outside). The city was both the founding place of conveyor belt sushi and the plastic food trend – a Japanese tradition you’ll find in almost every restaurant across the country. Opening a restaurant in this food hub is all about standing out, so storefronts feature eye-catching, life-like recreations of the food served inside.

What and where to eat and drink:

Okonomiyaki

Always worth the inevitable wait, okonomiyaki is a local specialty and a staple. It’s made from shredded cabbage mixed with flour and eggs, then fried with pork and seafood – and it’s absolutely delicious. Chibo and Warai are the two main hot spots to enjoy this dish – serving traditional Okonomiyaki as well as variations with noodles instead of cabbage. The meal is served on a hibachi-style griddle in front of you.

Takoyaki

Along the main street of Dotonbori restaurants, you will notice an endless amount of Takoyaki food stalls. A local delight, these are dough balls made with flour, egg and octopus and served piping hot straight from the grill. This neighborhood’s party food, Takoyaki is a staple for locals, which you’ll see consuming the balls in large groups and at all ages, accompanied by a pint.

Kushikatsu

Another local specialty is kushikatsu – or skewers of meat and vegetables – and for that there is an abundance of places to eat. These restaurants serve chicken, pork, beef, asparagus, and shiitake mushrooms, all fried in breadcrumbs and served on sticks that you dip in the common sauce and enjoy. No kushikatsu meal is complete without a glass of plum wine – but beware, this super sweet wine is much more alcoholic than it looks.

Visit of the Suntory distillery

One of Osaka’s top attractions, the Distillery Tour is a must visit for whiskey lovers and novices alike. The distillery is a short train ride from Osaka and offers the opportunity to experience the art of whiskey making. The tour guides you through the blending, distillation, blending and maturing process of Japan’s first commercial whiskey distillery. After passing through the warehouse filled with casks containing whiskey from 1924 to the present, the tour ends in the tasting room where you have the opportunity to taste different variations of whiskey in glasses used by professional tasters.

Day trips:

If you bought the all-important JR pass before heading to Japan, make the most of it with day trips to and from Osaka. A central hub for reaching major cities in Japan, Kyoto and Kobe are 15 minutes from Osaka, while Hiroshima is about two hours away.

Alternatively, you can use Kiwi Taxi, an international taxi company that operates in over 95 countries at affordable prices. Designed for tourists, the cars allow you to book your route from the airport to your hotel quickly and efficiently and the drivers are very friendly, offering advice as well as recommendations on the city from their local expertise.

Kobe

Kobe is a bustling port city that is home to the famous Kobe Beef. Pricey but worth it, Kobe Beef is this city’s main event, but a day trip to Chinatown offers mouth-watering street food at low cost. Choosing just one place to eat Kobe Beef is definitely a challenge – we opted for Ishida due to a recommendation from a local and we were not disappointed. The menus are the best value for money and consist of a soup to start, followed by a salad, fried vegetables, steak as a main course with an absolutely delicious accompaniment of Kobe fried rice and, finally, some dessert and a hot drink. The beef is cooked on a hotplate in front of you as the chef explains which combination of Andean salt, pepper, yuzu vinegar, or soy sauce you should pair with each bite of the melt-in-your-mouth steak.

Hiroshima

Hiroshima is a must visit while touring Japan. A visit to the Peace Museum is essential, but it is currently under renovation until 2019 so a small capsule exhibition is available for free. If possible, try to make your visit to Hiroshima coincide when the local baseball team, the Hiroshima Carps, play as it creates a charming and lively atmosphere in the city where residents of all ages and from all walks of life come together to watch their games. team. Watching a game is a truly unique experience, whether it’s participating in the chants as best you can, enjoying ramen and gyoza at the stadium’s food stalls, the atmosphere is electric.

Miyajima

AFP / Getty Images

From Hiroshima it is only a short train and ferry ride to the island of Miyajima. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Miyajima is a small island with a famous torii gate shrine floating in the water. While guides suggest going early in the morning to avoid the crowds, most people have this memo, so in fact, going towards the end of the day – and even at sunset – allows you to really appreciate the beauty of the island. It’s also amazing to see it transform from a bustling tourist hotspot into a Zen island – and don’t forget to sample the local confectionery, a Momiji cake in the shape of a maple leaf and filled with green tea, different variations of beans, chocolate or cheese.

Where to stay:

Staying in a traditional ryokan in Japan is a must. These hostels feature tatami floors, rice paper walls, and give a more authentic sense of Japanese design while upholding Feng Sui principles – ensuring that the layout promotes harmony and positivity. Providing serious home cravings, it’s no surprise, then, that 56% of vacationers remodel their homes after returning from vacation according to Booking.com.