We spent our first day on our honeymoon in Osaka. When speaking with some family members from overseas about our plans, their immediate reaction was that they looooved Osaka. I honestly had thought of this city as just a quick stop on our way to Kyoto, but it turned out to be one of my favorite places! The whole day was halfway planned - we had booked a private tour with a guide for the afternoon and our morning was free, so we had a little time to fill. It was a big first day in Japan for us. Here's what we did!
Morning: Cup of Noodles Museum, Katsu Restaurant, and Pokemon Center
Our hotel was located in Osaka Station, so we ate our continental breakfast and then took the subway to Ikeda Station to visit the Cup of Noodles Museum. The city center where we were staying had lots of people and large buildings, but the subway took us into the quieter northern part of the city. The museum was a couple of blocks from the subway stop, so we followed the signs with a chick on them (the cup of noodles mascot, apparently) and found it pretty easily.
The museum was a great first stop because it's free and it's small (i.e. it wasn't super overwhelming). When we entered, there were a bunch of ladies waiting to greet guests and they spoke English too! The exhibits show the history of the Cup of Noodles company, but the signs were unfortunately in Japanese and Chinese, so we couldn't really read them. The exhibits were interactive and we could kind of guess what was going on. There were also other things to do! At the end of the museum, there is a station available where visitors can personalize a cup of noodles by drawing on the packaging and adding their own toppings and flavors in their cup. I drew a Totoro on mine and added garlic and cheese with original soup flavor. Micah drew the cup of noodles chick on his and added spicy stuff and pork. There is also an option where you can actually take a class to make the noodles, but we weren't able to do it because we had to make it back for our tour.
After our stop at the museum, I was kind of hungry so we found a katsu restaurant to eat at called Katsu Hanamura. It was sooo delicious. Katsu in Japan is so light and crunchy. I don't know how they do it.
When we ate our fill, we took the subway back to Osaka Station, and since we had a little time to spare, we found the Pokemon Center in the station. It was in a department store called Daimaru right by our hotel. Pokemon is obviously really popular in Japan (just like it is here) and it was fun to look at all the different Pokemon merchandise they had.
Afternoon: Private Tour around Osaka
We met with our tour guide, Akemi (she said we could call her "Amy") in the lobby of our hotel. She showed us where we were going on our tour and then we were off. Amy was very nice and gave us lots of good advice. On our way to our first stop, she asked us if we had heard about the recent earthquakes and the deaths that happened because of it. She gave us some tips on what to do if we were caught in an earthquake (stay away from large walls, go inside, etc.) She also gave us some advice on what to do in Kyoto. Upon hearing that we didn't have any tours booked in Kyoto, she gave us some maps of the city so that we could use them when we got there.
Our first stop was the Umeda Sky Building, the second tallest building in Osaka, according to Amy. Seemed plenty tall when we got up there. We took an elevator and then a couple of escalators to get to the roof top, which had a circular path for visitors to walk around and see the city. The view was nice even though it was a bit foggy.
Next, we hopped on the subway and made our way to Osaka Castle. The walk was a bit longer and it was getting very warm. We followed a crowd up a wide, winding path towards the castle entrance and we even passed a photoshoot where, according to Amy, a couple was taking wedding portraits. I didn't envy them in the large kimonos. The castle looks big on the outside, but it is quite small and stuffy inside. We started at the top to see another beautiful (and more sunny) view, then worked our way down, stopping at each floor and reading about the history of the castle.
Our last stop in the tour was Dotonburi. The area is famous for its street food and the Glico running man (Glico is the company behind Pocky) and this is what Micah and I were probably most excited for because of reasons. We were not disappointed. Amy took us to one of her favorite takoyaki spots, where they served takoyaki covered in rice krispies. So delicious and crunchy. We ate more takoyaki (in a shrimp cracker sandwich) and then had an ice cream pastry afterwards.
After getting ice cream, Amy left us to our own devices.
Evening: Exploring Dotunburi
The rest of the night was spent exploring the different stores and video arcades for souvenirs, mech simulators, and neon lights. We ended the evening by stopping at a sushi restaurant that Amy recommended, capping off the perfect first day in Japan.