This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the very beginning, click here.
After 5 packed and enjoyable days in Kyoto and Nara, it was time to move on to Osaka. Osaka is a much bigger and more modern city compared to Kyoto, it is in fact Japan’s largest city after Tokyo. Though bigger, it has an excellent subway system comparable to other world class cities, so we used them solely to move around. No more buses, then.
From our Airbnb, we packed up and left for Kyoto Station to board the JR special rapid train (JPY 560 per person, 30 minutes). I had wanted to try the shinkansen bullet train at least once in Japan, but the price of JPY 1420 was just too steep (it takes only 15 minutes). The special rapid train was quite packed with travelers lugging baggage.
Upon reaching Shin-Osaka, we walked across the massive train station to the subway station. Shin-Osaka is huge, but different from Kyoto Station. Here it more of a urban mall concept, but it is just as crowded with people. Walking along the wide subterranean malls, you can smell the enticing cheesecakes and pastries from the shops.
From Shin-Osaka its a short subway ride to Hommachi Station (sometimes spelt Honmachi). The station exit is right in front of my hotel. But we exited on a different side, so we had to walk around a few blocks. But what a sight of the autumn colours!
We stayed in Lohas Superhotel, a very, very new hotel that has a health and wellness theme. We were really wonderfully surprised by the friendliness and helpfulness of the staff and the rooms were really very nice (although as with most Osaka hotels, they’re quite small).
Another plus point for our hotel – there is a Family Mart downstairs! Woo-hoo! But we didn’t buy much stuff here except for ongiri and coffee in a can, since our hotel served good breakfast every morning.
We couldn’t check in so early in the day, but the hotel allowed us to deposit our bags while we went out.
First order of the day – early lunch. Mark Wiens, one of my favourite travel bloggers, highly recommended Harukoma Sushi, located in Tenjinbashi Shotengai (shotengai means Shopping Street). We took one subway and easily found the place.
Now something about Tenjinbashi. If you think the shopping streets in Kyoto are impressive, wait til you see this one. Tenjinbashi is almost 3 KILOMETERS long, and separated into 7 chomes, or sections. It stretches across 3 subway stations and it feels like it just goes on forever. And thank goodness for the covered roof, as it was drizzling that whole day we were in Osaka.
Walking down the street, it is hard to avoid the aroma of the delicious food around you. We tried this chocolate crepe made by an old Japanese couple.
Harukoma is easy to find, located at the start of 2-chome. There are actually 2 branches within walking distance of each other, so do check which has a shorter queue.
This is the one Google Maps brought me to.
Check out the queue… well, in Japan, very much like in Ipoh, if you want good food, you have to wait…
We didn’t have to wait long, maybe 20 minutes as most customers eat and run quickly (the service is very prompt). You can order while waiting in line. The menu comes in Japanese, English and Korean (there was a Korean couple in front of us), and overall the vibe of the place is very friendly and helpful.
Inside, you can see how small it is. In addition to the L shaped counter seating, there are only 3 booth tables that can fit 4 people each.
when you enter the restaurant, pass your order to the waiter (the orders are conveniently number coded with pictures) and in a few minutes, your food will arrive.
Yes, we did order a second round of unagi as it was so good. Each platter ranges from JPY 200 to JPY 400. So what was the verdict? It was fantastic. I thought it was the best sushi I had during my trip, and also quite affordable. The branch further down the street is bigger, but both have long queues during peak periods.
After lunch we walked on the street, almost to the end. It was raining outside, so we decided to make a caffeine pitstop.
Didn’t take a picture of the shop name, but they served UCC coffee.
Next – Osaka Aquarium