“Sooner or later, everybody dreams of other worlds.”
―J. Aleksandr Wooton
The grind of work in South Korea sometimes led Misshoggy dreaming of other worlds, outside of her classrooms and lesson planning. Alas, a long weekend beckoned. Hence, she packed her bags and flew across the sea to Osaka for a five-day journey across Kansai.It was sorely needed: the quirks of Osaka swept across her like magical dust, leaving behind the happiness-sucking worm at the office.
Osaka was a world away from Seoul. She has this quirk and a bit of kitsch to her. Juxtaposing Shinsaibashi, the Osaka main shopping district to the coolest part of Seoul, Osaka has more personality with its bright billboards and massive animal structure overhanging the restaurant’s entrance. The more you dug around Shinsaibashi, the more you found yourself lost in charm of the National Kitchen of Japan. Now let yourself soak in the atmosphere where merchants of yore made and lost their riches
During Tokugawa Era, Osaka, the Nation’s Kitchen, was the collection and distribution point for rice, the most important measure of wealth. Thus, it was the city where merchants made and lost fortunes, although the shogunate did warn them of their conspicuous consumption.
A visit to the Nation’s Kitchen would not be complete without the staple okonomiyaki and takoyaki. Or if you’re brave, grab yourself some fugu (the poisonous puffer fish).
The otherworldly trip continued onwards to Universals Studio Japan (USJ), where the Wizarding World of Harry Potter of Asia resides. Greeted by the Weasley’s Ford Anglia on your way to Hogsmeade, you’ll be excited to see the Hogwarts castle on the yonder.
However, be warned, if you’re there on a public holiday like I did, you will be met with crowds and never-ending queues.
3 hours to the the Forbidden Journey ride in the castle, 2 hours to Honeydukes and an hour to the Butterbeer. If Misshoggy wasn’t a Potterhead, didn’t think she would be that patient.
Patience were tested, but the journey around Hogsmeade was magical, well at least it was to a late 20-year-old Potterhead. Reminded me of those days of attempting to sneak out of her home to try camping out for midnight releases, futile of course with an Asian mum. Those days of bravery cannot compared to the courage of some anticipating the next frightening amusement.
For the horror chasers, you can enter the world of zombie apocalypse at Biohazard. Rumour has it that it is really scary, you’re cautioned that you might get stepped on or punched, hence no heels and no sandals would be allowed into the auditorium. Unfortunately, Misshoggy was a scaredy-cat on sandals, therefore, I can’t tell you what it’s really like. But I’ve got a Youtube preview video for you, if you’re curious.
Comes the day where our Osaka leg has to end, but not without a dinner at an old school izakaya bar, with the classics of sashimi and sushi and a good serving of sake.
It was short but memorable. Before I leave you till next week’s adventure in Kyoto, here’s a glimpse of another Osaka’s landmark, Osaka Castle.
From Seoul, you can fly from both Incheon and Gimpo International Airport. Early bird prices start from AUD 222. It should take you around 1 hour 40 mins.
To get to:
Japanese train network can be very confusing for first time goers. In Osaka, the train system consists of JR Line, other private lines as well as a subway network. It will be further explained in Japan 101 in two weeks times.
(Subway) Yotsubashi Line, Y14; Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line, N15; Midosuji Line, M19.- Shinsaibashi Station, Exit 5, 6 and 10.
Universal Studio Japan:
(JR) From Osaka Station, take the Loop Line to Nishikujo. At Nishikujo, change to Yumesaki Line towards Sakurajima. It will take you to Universal Studio Japan station.
(Subway) Chuo Line, C19,; Nagahori Tsurumi-ryokuchi Line, N20- Morinomiya Station, Exit 3b.
(JR) From Osaka Station, take the Loop Line to Morinomiya Station.
From Morinomiya Station, follow the Osaka Castle sign. It should take you 15 mins to walk to the castle.
Misshoggy stayed in Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Premier in Higobashi. ~AUD 167 a night.