Osaka, Japan

osaka castle

After going to Kyoto and Tokyo in 2014, I vowed to go back to Japan. The food, the culture, the impeccable train system, I was enamored by all of it. I was lucky enough to be back last month on another family vacation, but this time felt even more special because Matt is now part of our family.

We went to Osaka, one of the premiere food destinations in Japan. I read that the people of Osaka spend more money on food than anything else, and that their food culture is characterized by the term “kuidaore” which roughly translates to eat oneself bankrupt. Most people also commonly refer to it to mean: eat until  you drop. Osaka sounds exactly like my kind of place.

And eat we did!


osaka restaurant higashimikuni

ramen osaka

It was snowing on our first night in Osaka, but we lucked out because there was a seafood restaurant right outside our airbnb  rental. (This is the 5-bedroom we rented, and we were all happy about how large and super convenient it was, minutes away from the Higashimikuni train station, and close to restaurants, grocery, and convenience stores). We had an amazing plate of shrimp tempura that I shared with Matt, my sister Patty, and Patty’s boyfriend Marlon. If I can time travel, I would go back to that night and order another plate of shrimp tempura all to myself.

On another night, Matt and I walked to the restaurant area right outside the Higashimikuni train station and entered a little ramen place. I had the spicy miso ramen, a pure bowlof comfort  food. It wasn’t spicy enough for my spice-loving tongue (I find that most Japanese food only has mild heat),  it was still better than most other ramen bowls I’ve had.

garcia family selfie osaka train station

We had a lot of fun at the train stations, which were admittedly hard to navigate (for me, but not for my genius dad who can figure out anything) but were impressively clean and efficient. The major train hubs/connections, like Shin-Osaka, were massive and had multiple restaurants and stores within. We ate at a kaiten there, or restaurants that are sometimes referred to as “conveyor belt sushi.” I am no longer an amateur who sprinkles matcha green tea powder on salmon nigiri, and I confidently pressed buttons on the little computer to order more sushi even if most of the time  I had no idea what I was ordering.

wagyu steak kuromon market
My favorite experience at Osaka was going to the Kuromon Ichiba Market,  where I had THE BEST STEAK OF MY LIFE. Many people are rhapsodic about wagyu beef and rightly so. It was perfectly marbled and meltingly tender. A quick sear, simple seasoning, and I was in heaven. This was, without a doubt, the best thing I ate in Osaka.

seared wagyu beef

patty kuromon market

marlon kuromon market king crab kuromon

Known by locals as gastronome, the Kuromon Market has fresh produce, the freshest seafood and meat that are cooked and grilled on the spot, sweets, merchandise, gifts, and other delectables. We  spent a few hours there and it would be my number one recommendation of what to do in Osaka.

A few more pictures from the market:

pickled vegetables kuromon

fresh uni kuromon

parents kuromon baby octopus kuromon
king crab nigiri kuromon grilled octopus

pickled vegetables | fresh uni | my parents at the entrance of the Kuromon market | baby octopus (the bulbous heads are stuffed with  hard  boiled quail eggs) | king crab nigiri | grilled octopus

fresh seafood kuromon osaka

beef lung kuromon market beef lung kuromon ichiba market
mochi karaage kuromon market

bianca eating fried chicken

incredibly fresh seafood | woman cooking beef lung | beef lung plate (it was delicious) | mochi (rice cake) stuffed with a sweet filling and fresh strawberries | karaage (Japanese fried chicken) | me housing said fried chicken

osaka castle japan

garcia family osaka castle

black sesame ice cream matt nagy

Another must-visit is the Osaka Castle, one of Osaka’s main historical landmarks. The castle is pretty stunning, surrounded by a large park filled cherry trees and apricot flowers. There’s a formidable wall and moats around it, and everything is very grand. I love visiting ancient castles (the last one I saw was the Castelo de Sao Jorge in Lisbon) so I really enjoyed this. I also enjoyed the treats from the food trucks right outside the castle. Pictured above is black sesame ice cream and Matt. (Confession: I actually got green tea ice cream but ate it before taking a picture.)

I really loved our  trip to Osaka.  I’ve been so fortunate to have traveled to so many places over the years – I’ve gone on girls trips, solo trips, work trips, blog tripsgroup trips and I cherish them all – but the ones that I hold deepest in my heart are the trips I’ve taken with Matt and my family.

marlon monic matt

And special thanks to Matt and to Marlon for being so so good with my sister Monica! She loved  every minute in Osaka, which made me appreciate the trip even more.

airbnb view osaka

I highly recommend adding Osaka to your itinerary if you are planning a trip to Japan. For me and my family, it was a most memorable and delicious experience.

I’ll post about our short Tokyo visit next time!



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