Osaka Journals

Kansai (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto) atmosphere

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A travel journal to Osaka by david

ultraman and child Photo, Osaka, Japan More Photos
Quote: A list of places in Kobe, Osaka, Akashi, and Kyoto thick with Kansai culture.

Kansai (Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto) atmosphere

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Overview

Quote:
The Kansai region is the undisputed champion of Japanese cuisine, and the locals leave their workaday concerns at the door, so restaurants and drinking spots are a great place to start. Other local gathering spots at which memorable experiences are guranteed are GO (boardgame) parlors, Shogi (japanese chess) parlors, Pachinko parlors, Onsens (hot springs), martial arts dojos, sporting events (the list goes on).Quick Tips: The English language monthly whats-going-on magazine 'Kansai Time Out' (not related to London or New York T.O.) is a very good resource, if a bit 'gaijin centric'. If you have even the slightest amount of Japanese ability, the weekly entertainment magazine 'Pia' (available ...Read More

Kobe's ShinKaiChi

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Story/Tip

Hotel Asia Photo, Osaka, Japan
Quote:
Shinkaichi epitomizes 'shita-machi' (rough, older part of town) to most Kobe residents. Back in the 60's and 70's Shinkaichi was the center of Kobe, though in the eighties newer Sannomiya took precedence and Shinkaichi began a steady decline. Recently it has undergone a revival of sorts, partly due to the Kobe Arts Villiage Center, a state-of-the-art performance/music space, but the overall feel is still worn and seedy, and is well-worth a walk about. As in any 'shita-machi' area, most shops haven't changed since shortly after World War 2, and the locals are a colorful mix including construction workers, professional pachinko players, low-level Yakuza, and day-laborers. The best place to meet them w...Read More

Kobe's Meriken Park

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Story/Tip

Quote:
An escape from the shopping-oriented crowds of Sannomiya and Motomachi (the center of Kobe) quiet Meriken Park, in effect a large pier jutting out into Osaka bay, is just a short walk directly south of JR (Japan Railway) Motomachi Station. The pier was toppled in the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, and in its reconstruction parts of the destroyed pier have been left as they are in a fascinating, tasteful display. By day or night the view of the the Rokko Mountain range is impressive, and the fresh sea air and calm waves more Zen than most temples these days. Chances are you'll be joined by young couples or old fishermen, and respite is the word of the day. HOW TO GET THERE: take JR Kobe line t...Read More

Kasuganomichi, Kobe's Korea town

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Story/Tip

shop Photo, Osaka, Japan
Quote:
Walk 5 min. south of Hankyu Railway Kasuganomichi station and you will find a large, thriving ShoTenGai (pedestrian shopping street) dominated by Korean food markets and clothing stores. For the resident the vegetables are cheaper and fresher than most supermarkets, and rarer treats like large zucchini can be found at reasonable prices. A walk around the area will likely lead to local Korean restaurants, ChiJiMi or Paejon (korean pan-cake) food-stalls, Kim-chi specialists, and very, very local 'snack' bars. The Yakiniku (grilled beef) shop at the east end of the ShoTenGai is a favorite local spot, and the menu (on the wall) is in Korean; always a good indication of authenticity. Stay late enough and ...Read More
abandoned corner Photo, Osaka, Japan
Quote:
The walkway which runs from Kobe's JR (Japan Raliway) Sannomiya station to JR Kobe station is one of the densest, most active areas in the city. In the past it was THE place for seamen-on-leave from Russia and S.E. Asia to buy second-hand electronics in bulk. More recently young fashion oriented shops have snatched up spaces near JR Sannomiya station and have turned it into one of the hottest young-peoples shopping centers in the region. The western end, near JR Kobe station, is still dominated by second-hand electronics and curio shops, many owned by Vietnamese, Chinese, and Koreans. In a city where 'grit' is little and far between, it can be a welcome change in atmosphere. TO GET THERE: take J...Read More

Hakagure Udon Shop, Osaka, Umeda

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Story/Tip

Quote:
While Tokyo has (and even Kansai people will admit) superior Soba, you will never get a bowl of Udon which compares to that rolled out at Hagakure. The narrow, ever-busy shop is located in the lower level of the DaiSan building in Osaka's central Umeda area in a maze of corridors, so you may have to ask your way once you feel warm. The shop is open for lunch, closed for a couple hours before dinner, and there is always a string of people waiting to get in (but it is WELL worth it). THE dish to order is 'KiJouYu Udon', which in its simplicity allows you to fully appreciate the Udon itself. The prices are very reasonable, and ordering plus 50% ('ichi-ten-go') or double ('daburu') portions costs no mor...Read More

Arima Onsen (hot spring), Kobe

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Story/Tip

Quote:
Nestled in a valley just over the Rokko Mountains, Arima Onsen makes a wonderful day-trip from Kobe or Osaka. Busses run (in both directions) from Hankyu Ashiya and JR Ashiyagawa stations, and the Kobe Dentetsu (railway) terminates there, but a hike over the Rokko Mountain front range makes a soak all that more rewarding. The hike is fairly steep initially, but Japanese octogenarians do it regularly. There are views over the dense industrial paradise of Amagasaki and Osaka bay, and clear days bring into focus the islands and high mountains of Wakayama. At the top of Rokko mountain there is a very average curry-rice/udon shop for the hungry and lunch-less. Once in Arima a dip costs between 350 yen a...Read More

Takatori mountain, Kobe

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Story/Tip

Quote:
It is a regular practice of the Japanese retired to form a morning hiking group to daily ascend a nearby mountain. Takatori mountain is a particularly popular spot as the surrounding neighborhoods are traditional and local, and perched at the summit is a centuries old shrine looking out over Kobe city. Every morning the hiker will be greeted by dozens of Ohayo!s, bleated with particular gusto on Saturdays and Sundays. A special treat 2/3 of the way up are two eating/drinking places where members of the older generation gather to drink beer and play Shogi (chess) from the morning. The beer is carried up and down by a man in his 70's and his wife in special shoulderbags designed to hold a dozen or s...Read More