Osaka 2019 Roundup - Day 4: Namba Walk + Kuromon Ichiba + Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Monday, 3 June 2019

Osaka 2019 Roundup - Day 4: Namba Walk + Kuromon Ichiba + Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Day 4! 

I needed a coffee to start the day, and I totally went for Starbucks Japan's latest launch: Royal Milk Tea Frappuccino, The Royal Milk Tea was launched in celebration of the new emperor's ascension and would be available until 18 July 2019 only! 

The drink was not a letdown (I'm a milk tea lover), and the toppings were rich with whipping cream, sprinkled with shortbread pieces and a honey drizzle.

Not only Dotonbori has a line of shops available for shopping maniacs, but their good use of space also extends underground, where you'll find Namba Walk. They sell all sorts of things underground as well, and I find that many office workers use this walkway instead of walking above (Ebisu-suji / Shinsaibashi-suji). Seems to us like fewer tourists walk here and I like that about this place: shopping in peace and (some) quiet.

Also used to be called the 'Town of Rainbow' until it was renovated in year 1994, the Namba Walk sports a whooping 270 shops selling fashion, gourmet food and daily goods, while also serving as a passage connecting multiple train stations.

Namba Walk Website:

I chanced upon a 'One Piece' t-shirt collection here at a smaller Uniqlo branch, and that's where some of my money went.

Bookstores are dying out? Not for Japan!

Along the way, we also saw a super mini phone, my dad was playing around with it and found that it doesn't have many features. Guess it's meant for those who live simply (no social media!) - for the elderly, perhaps? This phone was cute though!

After that short stroll, we also proceeded to our favourite part of the day: lunch!

We head over to Kuromon Ichiba 黒門市場, and I had already bookmarked where we were going to try our wagyu beef: at a local butcher shop, Maruzen meat shop 丸善食肉店.

After focusing on my target (the beef!) I told myself that I had to turn back and try other foods I controlled myself from along the way.

Finally, we were at Maruzen. But be warned though, there are extremely little seats (say, 6 seats?) so we waited for awhile so that my mum could rest and eat (she doesn't like standing to eat, a usual sight with these markets). Anyway, prices range depending on the type of meat you order and its weight.

We tried both the Kobe beef and Wagyu beef, which cost us about 5450yen (approx SGD$72), the owner told me to take a photo of the meat I ordered.  Once I paid, I took a seat and the chef began cooking in front of us, teppanyaki style.

Everything was done in front of us so it was pretty transparent. We also took the photo of his award.

Every bite of meat was a legit melt-in-your-mouth goodness.

We also turned back to one of the stalls to try Horumon (Beef offal stew). We head over to Yamadasanchi 山田さんち for their signature "Bakudan Horumon", meaning 'Bomb Wagyu Beef Offal Stew". This was so good and we enjoyed every piece of this! There was no weird smell at all, this is a must-try! I'm very sure they are the only store selling this. haha.

The owner was so friendly too!

Yamadasanchi 山田さんち (黑門市場):

Kuromon seemed like a neverending alley of seafood, so we just popped by one of the seafood stores and ordered a variety of grilled seafood. The bill totaled 8500yen (approx SGD$115), and to be honest, overall I think it wasn't exactly super yummy, just so-so for us and we did think that we could have spent the money some where else eating more special food. I'm not too sure if the food was not nice because there were just so many tourists in the shop and the shop owners just couldn't cope with the workload.

Well, one memory I did take away from eating at this place was my first taste of Sazae (Turbo cornutus - go look it up the internet!). According to Wiki, the Sazae is a horned turban, "a species of sea snail". My japanese friend loves it, and she told me the super green thing I ate at the tail end, are the innards of the snail and it has this bitterish taste to it.

When I ate it, I totally didn't even know what I was eating, but I ate the whole thing (yes, including the innards!). My face immediately cringed, my family did not want to try. Lol. I guess the body of the snail itself was fine (of course, it was all fully cooked, grilled). I think enjoying the innards, that's an acquired taste. Fun fact though, I happened to look over at another tourist couple who also happened to be eating this at the same time, and the immediate look on their faces after they had one each was classic: an exact reaction just like mine. LOL.

Kuromon Ichiba:
Maruzen Meat Shop: 

After the meal, the sissy had to go back to the hotel to prep for a telephone conference meeting the next day (eeks!) and my mum headed back with her to rest. So it was a date between dad and I.

We made our way to the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan! Far in the distance while walking toward the Aquarium, you'll already see the Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel 天保山大観覧車, greeting you from afar. We didn't have a chance to go for the Ferris Wheel cos it was already about 3pm by the time we got there, and we were supposed to meet my mum and sis for dinner at 7pm, so we didn't have much time.

That aside, the Kaiyukan building structure is so beautiful!

We got one ticket each, my dad's already above 60, so he has a discounted ticket (just show the passport!). Fees totaled 4300 yen.

The aquarium is very lovely, and I totally enjoyed my trip. Well, I have so many photos but so little space, so I'll just be sharing some photos I captured, that I really liked.

A cute shot of my dad trying so hard to snap a shot of the dolphin.

The whale shark is just... stunning to look at! I'm biased too, cos, BLUE.

I love them stingrays! Managed to capture a shot of this one which looked like it was dancing. haha.

A nice cafe (Cafe Mermaid (4F) overlooking the harbour, where you can get to try 'Whale Shark Soft Serve Ice Cream', so many people bought it (for the gram, if you know what I mean). But I just can't be bothered. I got a drink instead.

I was actually very excited because only in Japan can I see my favourite fish: the Clione (a.k.a Sea Angel). Well, the Cliones are small floating sea slugs, but they look so lovely to watch, so relaxing too, because they look like they have wings and 2 very small horns on their heads. Please go google their photos if you wish to check out how they look like!

Unfortunately, I don't have photos to show here because I didn't manage to get any good shots during this trip! But I could live with that, because I did manage to get some good shots when I saw them during my last trip to Hokkaido.

Another favourite of mine are the jellyfish, and I did get to see so many species of jellyfish here, they look like they are dancing in the water. So magical. I really love how God puts effort in all His creation. Seeing how beautiful these small creatures are, simply reminds me how He truly is such an awesome artist.

Of course, the fat seals.

And the King Penguins, which cannot be missed.

Towards the end, visitors can also get a chance to touch the stingrays in the pool, but be sure to adhere to all safety and hygiene instructions!

Before ending your session at the Kaiyukan, don't forget to visit the 2 in-house souvenir stores too, because they have many super cute stuff!

Especially for Sumikko Gurashi fans (who are there during this period), they currently have a limited edition Sumikko Gurashi x Kaiyukan edition collectibles, just available for sale at this location (nowhere else!)

It was truly a pleasant date with the daddy.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan Website:
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan Location:

When we arrived back at Namba, we decided to have dinner near our hotel, which happened to be a surprise good eatery (Tendon Tenya) which specialises in tendon. My parents liked the food so much here that they came back 2 nights in a row. Yes, they did. It's easy to find also because they are a chain store and have many branches.

This place serves up an affordable, delicious tendon that uses tempura oil with zero cholesterol for rice dishes, udon & soba noodles. Pair your meal with a warm udon soup, that is light and comforting, especially with a lovely hint of yuzu. :)

Tempura Tendon Tenya てんや 難波御堂筋店:

After dinner, we still wanted to eat Okonomiyaki, which is the classic Japanese savory pancake. Osaka is famous for it after all, and we decided to just have it as takeaway for enjoyment in our hotel room as we were stuffed after dinner. 

We head to Tsuruhashi Fugetsu (鶴橋風月), also a stone's throw away from our hotel. The wait took about 15 minutes as the food was freshly cooked upon order. I really enjoyed this dish, but my sissy did not. Sadly I didn't get any food shots as it was devoured by us when it hit supper time. Only after I ate did I realise I forgot to take photos. Ah well. haha.

Surprise surprise though, if you want to have a taste of it but can't go to Osaka, they do have an outlet in Singapore at Eat at Seven, Suntec City

Tsuruhashi Fugetsu 鶴橋風月 なんば御堂筋グランドビル店: (also available at many other locations)

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Osaka 2019 Roundup - Day 3: Money Exchangers + Osaka Castle Park + Shinsekai

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Osaka 2019 Roundup - Day 3: Money Exchangers + Osaka Castle Park + Shinsekai
It's day 3! Time flies when you're having fun indeed. While the parents are enjoying their coffee, we decided to take some photos with the artwork around the hotel lobby. 

We have one goal this morning - to exchange money! Many money changers can be found around Dotonbori, as it's very much a touristy area.

On the way to the money changers, we chanced upon the evolution of how the image of the Glico man came to be, just had to photograph it!

So hamsum. LOL.

We only changed some money in Singapore and learned that changing money in the city was cheaper itself, so I sourced out a popular money exchanger (about 10mins walk away from my hotel) and exchanged most of our money there. If you go to their online website, you'll realise that the rates are so good it's unbelievable. But usually, you have to preorder (and you can only do it if you know Japanese). So we went with the daily exchange rate offered onsite and it was still pretty decent.

It's literally called the 'Exchangers'.

Exchangers Website:
Location I did my exchange: 

After exchanging money, we head over to the famous Ichiran ramen (一蘭) for a wholesome brunch meal. No introductions needed as this popular pork broth tonkotsu ramen is on everyone's 'Things to Eat In Japan' list. Here, you get the privacy of eating by yourself in a very small allocated space. I obviously ordered the signature one, the full package.

Ichiran Ramen:

After the crazy heavy meal, we had to find a way to digest all that carb. Again, we took to walking the streets of Shinsaibashi, which we never seem to finish exploring.

It's also amazing how walking really digests all that brunch food so fast, and we proceeded to try Luke's Lobster! Honestly, it was nice, but with all the rave reviews online, I perhaps had too much expectations on it. So, it kinda fell flat for me a little.

Luke's Lobster:

Next up, we head over to Yamaha, the music school. My sister and I used to take electone lessons when we were younger, and I must say I'm pretty rusty at it. But my sister wanted to check the music sheets out, so we did. We still have 2 electones at home, and it's pretty hard to actually purchase the music online from yamaha (despite just requiring to download the music data online) so we had to figure out how to purchase the music data from here.

We heavily relied on google translate to explain and check how to go about purchasing the data from here. The school had 5 storeys, and it was interesting to visit. It seems like each studio could only accomodate 1 student and 1 teacher at max, so I guess here it focuses on privacy learning (instead of a huge studio like ours that has 1 teacher to 10 students.

After figuring out how to purchase the scores and music data, sissy and I went online to check the available scores we want to buy, went to purchase a USB drive and proceeded to buy the music data for download from the store.

If you're planning to purchase scores and music data from Yamaha directly (in-store), please be warned that you have to pay cash only. They do not accept credit cards! We forked out about SGD$180 here, just on music sheets and data. hahaha. This means, we have to exchange money AGAIN. (Whoops)

Yamaha Music School (Shinsaibashi-suji branch):

We still had some time after Yamaha, so we decided to go to Osaka Castle Park to check out the Osaka Castle (Osakajo). We did a quick google check online and according to some websites, the best station to drop off and walk to Osaka Castle was the Tanimachi yonchome station (谷町四丁目駅), despite on Google Maps it seemed that Morinomiya station was closer. 

Anyhoo, we proceeded to believe the online tip and got off at Tanimachi yonchome station. 

Once we got off, we also saw the Osaka Museum of History 大阪歴史博物館, and proceeded to head to have a coffee break at the Star Isle Cafe (スターアイル) located at level one, with a huge window sporting a nice view. 

I still have no clue though, why Japanese folks love their sausages (there are definitely better tasting ones elsewhere!)

Osaka Museum of History:

After the coffee break, we took a slow stroll to Osaka Castle. My mum's knees were not in the best condition, so we didn't head up the Castle. We did admire the beautiful castle up close and took many photos with it. What was amazing was the stone moat though. How did they, in ancient times, build such a well structured, steep and technologically advanced stone moat in those ages?

That's something to think about. For us, we marveled over the stone moat more than we did the castle, actually. By the time we reached, it was already close to 4plus in the afternoon, a pleasant time to visit.

Had to also take a photo of a Shiba Inu, just simply enjoying the view of the castle too. :)

I'm not sure why travelling makes us feel hungry so quickly. By 5 plus, we were ready to leave the castle grounds to have dinner. And so we took a quick 10min cab ride to Shinsekai (新世界, lit. "New World") for some kushikatsu (fried japanese skewers)!

We were dropped off at the Tsutenkaku (通天閤), a well-known landmark of Osaka, brightly advertising Hitachi. This 103m tower also sports a souvenir store at its basement. We didn't head up to the observatory, but those who wants to do so, it's payable.

After strolling the souvenir stores, our stomachs were calling out to us pretty badly, so we decided to dine at Kushikatsu Daruma Shinsekai Sohonten, which was located right next to Tsutenkaku, it's very easy to locate it as it stands out!

By the time we visited it about 6plus in the evening, it was full and we had to wait, but luckily not for long. For those who have no time to visit Shinsekai, there's also a Daruma branch in Dotonbori area!

We asked for the English menu and went with the set C (Combo Dobutsuennae), which features 15 pieces of kushikatsu for 2000yen. Of course, we added on a couple more sticks after that (ala carte style!). Every set also comes with a free doteyaki (doteyaki beef tendons and daikon radish simmered with miso), which we loved and ordered one more ala carte!

Just dunk a crispy fried kushikatsu in the special sauce, and then eat it. It's that simple!

How can you have kushikatsu without beer? :D

I liked strolling at Shinsekai! It had this really nostalgic Japanese feel that I love.

Kushikatsu Daruma Shinsekai sohonten:

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