Checking-in to Earthmans Amemura.
It’s located around the Dotonburi neighborhood with lots of little restaurants and eateries. Some shops were opened till late, and there were many snack bars around. I booked the #601 room for 4 adults.
3 of my old folks + me, a.k.a the guide.
The hotel works on a self-checkin basis. We didn’t see any receptionist, thus it could be a problem if you want to leave your baggage when you’re checking out. Earthmans Amemura feels like a very contemporary cafe-esque hotel. The rooms had a bit of industrial vibes that spoke of different textures and materials.
.things to eat
coffee & lawson
Ichiran Ramen is quite a popular ramen chain. It seems that no matter when I go, there will always be a queue. I managed to convinced the 3 old folks to suffer under the wet queue for this bowl of soulfood.
And it was so damn good! You have to purchase tickets through a vending machine at the entrance, so make sure you have cash on you! Then you’d be given a piece of paper to pick your preference.
– How savory you want the soup to be?
– How firm you want the noodles to be?
– Extra meat? Onsen tamago? Or kaedama?
(Kaedama means an extra serving of noodles, usually to top up if you haven’t finish your soup)
*** DO NOT MISS THIS OUT WHEN IN JAPAN
2. Yaki Niku / Grilled meat
When in Japan, there’s always the difficulty to choose what to eat. I’d suggest you plan your stomach space really carefully. Unless you’re a huge eater!
After checking out a few different yaki niku house, it seemed like a lot of them are on a buffet basis. That was too much for the 4 of us. Instead we went for à la carte orders. Grilling squid is an absolute favourite. And of course, not forgetting the different selection of beef cuts. From affordable ones to premium ones to suit your wallet. We generally go for average ones since my mom doesn’t eat beef.
— Speaking of which, my mom isn’t a fan of raw food. So can you imagine, we missed out all those sushi greatness 😭
📍Yaki Niku Goen Nishishinsaibashi
2-chōme-3-20 Nishishinsaibashi, Chūō-ku, Osaka, 542-0086, Japan
(if you hate smokey grill house, this place is not for you)
— 居酒屋 つのふり
On our way back after a wet Nara tour, we found ourselves in a super cool underground izakaya restaurant / a.k.a Japanese tavern. It’s located along the sheltered streets next to the main Nara JR Station.
This one that has huge delicious posters out on the ground level without a “door” except a staircase that goes underground. If we weren’t in Japan, I’d say it’s quite dangerous to be that adventurous. Our curious minds decided to take a peek and holy! Look at that interior! Private little tents which over looked a little river on the other side, the sound of water... *cue Bink’s Sake
However bigger tents were all taken up so we were directed to another side with the classical tatami seats.
The menu was an ipad, with everything written in Japanese. So it was a bit complicated. They had chinese subtitles, so we managed to figure out some stuffs. The meal wasn’t exactly cheap. I think it was around 2000¥ for 9 tiny slices of different beef cuts. We had this tiny little stove to grill them, it was so cute! This was one of the best meals we had during our days in Osaka/Nara 🤤
Japan, 〒630-8216 Nara, Higashimuki Minamimachi, 21 奈良観光会館B1F
When in Japan, you’re meant to eat your way through…
There’s just too much to eat. On the streets, you’ll find many takoyaki stalls. Takoyaki are simply flour batter filled with minced octopus, ham or cheese. The variations are endless! They usually comes topped with eggsy mayo, sweet sauce and lively looking bonito flakes. Which are not alive of course. They move because when takos are freshly served the heat kinda shakes them up and it looks as though the flakes are alive. Bonito flakes are super thin shavings of preserved fish!
Similarly to takoyakis, there are also a cabbage pancake, okonomiyaki. Fluffy cabbage in a flour batter filled with pork, prawns — whatever you want really, pan-grilled to perfection.
Other than that, there’s grilled squids (highly popular, though they cost more as well), random beef skewers on the streets. Just keep your eyes opened!
We just randomly went for this giant tako because they had the entire baby octopus in it.
4. Coffees, bakeries
Can we take a moment to appreciate all the good coffees in Japan?
Streamer Coffee was just 1minute away from the hotel. At the first look, it had the hipster vibe which I thought didn’t really fit my old folks / and I was right 😰But their coffee was great! I can’t remember the price but I think it was around 400-500¥ a cup. It costs a little more if you were to sit in the cafe to chill around. But their coffee packs a punch.
For non coffee lovers, they have rich hot chocolate as well. Unfortunately, they don’t really serve proper food so you’d need find that somewhere else. However they had really yummy cereal oats! The flavor and crunch was just right!
📍Streamer Coffee Shinsabashi
1-10-19, Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Instant wakeup call
Speaking of coffees, you can’t forget bakeries.
Well— more specifically, Cheese Tarts.
There’s a few different brands, which I can’t believe that I forgot to snap a photo of them before I drowned them in my stomach. I got a small Pablo Cheese Tart on the first day I arrived. All because the minis were sold out. They seemed to be easily sold out. So I could only go for the smallest sized one that was considered as reasonable snacking 🤤🤣So whenever you come across a Pablo, take a step in, you won’t regret your calories!
Before we left, I found another cheese tart at Shin-Osaka Train station when I was waiting for our airport express.
It had another fruit gelee layer over the cheese tart, which I can’t remember if it was apple or peach. I only remember drowning them in my stomach the next day when I landed in Singapore. It was that good 😍
P/S Of course their bakeries were great! There’s always something special about freshly baked japanese breads!
ALSO, can we talk about how awesome konbinis are?
Konbinis — Convenient stores, are on every corner in the streets. There’s a couple of different brands but Lawson is my favorite. They have the best bento selection (in my preference) and you can find all sorts of snacks and cheap coffee that a friend of mine always rave!
Maybe because it was spring/summer a lot of konbinis / vending machines didn’t serve warm drinks. During my previous Japan trip, I loved getting a tiny bottle of warm Royal Milk Tea. But however maybe it was a warmer season, it was hard to get a cup of warm tea.
Nonetheless, I’ve discovered new found love with jellies! These cooling jelly packs were quite refreshing when the day starts to get a bit too warm.
.things to do
4 days 3 nights seemed like a lot of time, but in reality it wasn’t.
Mostly because it rained. We got lazy and tried to hide indoors as much as possible when it rained heavily. But because it was Golden week, everywhere was so crowded! Like everyone, we purchased an extra transparent umbrella and roam the city.
Shinsabashi Shopping District
The area near Glico signboard, its’s a whole stretch of shopping galore. There are international brands such as H&M and Forever21. But I’d recommend you to shop at Uniqlo for affordable basics! Drop by all their local drugstore and test out Japanese skincare! Some of them are really good! Especially the Hatomugi Skin Conditioner and Minion Amino Moist! Both of them really helps in keeping the skin hydrated if you have dry skin! I’ve also tested some Shiseido Elixir Lifting Lotion, they were really comfortable on the skin as well! I got them as complimentary hotel during our stay in Tokyo. I got converted during those few days and bought some home. Though some other items didn’t suit me in the end 😭
Remember to check out their departmental stores!
Especially the B1/B2 levels at Osaka (Umeda) Station. Their whole range of food market is worth an eye opener! Get wowed by the extremely beautiful grown produce and their shocking price tag. We managed to find some really good strawberries for 300-400¥ a bucket. Those were good enough. However we didn’t splurge on expensive white strawberries…
These levels cater to bento-esque food. We picked up a few different bentos for our train rides to other cities. There were so delicious!
Also, don’t forget about this massive super mart chain, Don Quijote! They sell everything in there. Our last night in Japan, we looted tones of Japanese snacks home! So be sure to drop by and stock up!
The iconic spot that you can’t miss: We were quite lucky that the only day when Osaka wasn’t raining was the day we decided to pop up the castle. It was rather gloomy but it didn’t stop the crazy crowd. So make sure to get there early if you want your grams’!
Labelled as the tallest building in Japan, I was very hesitant on buying the tickets in advance. Which in a way, I was right… because of the wet rainy days, it wasn’t really worth it to go all the way up and get nothing for a view. But there’s a sky park midway that was high enough for us to admire the cityscape. Get your tickets in advance to beat the queue!
One of the oldest shrines in Japan if I am not wrong. It’s a pretty orangey shrine that honestly, looks like a lot of other shrines in Japan 🙊after sometime. But I still like to visit them and pay my respect like how the Japanese do. Somehow it has some sort of calming effect on me…
We took one day to roam Nara! In fact, it was raining the entire day. We were not sure if it was a good idea but still went in the end. The train there took about 1hour to get there. I’m sure it will be a lot better if it were not raining but sunshines instead. Once you get out of the station, you can walk all the way in (which we did… in the rain) or take a bus. The bus seems bring people right into the middle of the park so it was like a short cut if you’re lazy.
Nara park is famous for the freely roam deers on the roads as well as a couple of famous shrines in the area like the Todaiji. Trekking towards the park as you follow the crowd, you will get to see herds of deers here and there. You can also spend 200¥ to buy crackers to feed them. These deers are clever animals and are so used to humans. They bow to you in return for snacks, just take note not to get head-butted by them because you refuse to give them crackers or if you run out of them. Some of them with a little nastier temper will actually bite your arse. I’ve actually witnessed that…
Todaiji is known for having a gigantic Buddha statue. Unfortunately for us, the rain didn’t stop for a second. As it was Golden Week, many shrines in Japan were holding special events. It was so packed that we were stuck in the front of the temple and couldn’t enter. We could only see the temple for afar!
Golden Week is not a good time to travel if it’s your first time in Japan 🙊
Now then I will let the visuals tell the story…