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September 29th 2015
Published: November 3rd 2015
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Kikuya Kikuya Kikuya

Kushikatsu Restuarant, Shinsekai
28th Sept: We arrived back in Osaka and decided to go get some dinner. My friend suggested an area, close to Namba that we should visit for dinner. So we hopped on the subway and headed there as it was only a couple of stops away. The area was called Dobutsuen-mae and is located in Shinsekai, which means new world. It is an old neighbourhood, which was built in 1912. Since there was minimal redevelopment after World War II, the area became one of the poorest in Japan. It is also rumoured to be dangerous. Not that my friend told me any of this, only that the neighbourhood was really old school filled with old men drinking and playing games. It did look a bit ghetto when we emerged from the subway station, but not too bad. I definitely didn't feel unsafe there. We walked along a street that was filled with restaurants, izakayas and these games room for old men. The rooms, or more like halls, were very simple filled with lots of tables and chairs and, of course, old men. I think the men were playing games like Shogi or Mahjong. The decor looked like it was from the
Kikuya Kikuya Kikuya

Kushikatsu Restuarant, Shinsekai
1950s or 60s, they looked like the old working men's clubs, you find across England.

Dobutsuen-Mae is famous for kushi-katsu, which is deep fried sticks. There are many different kinds of kusi-katsu, all different meats, fish and vegetables. The food is placed on a skewer, dipped in egg, flour and breadcrumbs before being deep fried in vegetable oil. We had a place in mind, that we had found on the web and we were on the look out for it. We walked all the way up to the end of the street without spotting it. We decided to look more carefully on our return journey, we still missed it. Third time lucky, we enlisted the help of google and got a picture of the front of the restaurant, so that we could find it, bingo, that worked like a treat. Kikuya was tiny as we stepped inside. There was a bar with a counter wrapped around and that was it. The woman working there was so nice and friendly. I think Osaka people are meant to be more outgoing. There was a display cabinet that showed all the different kinds of meat and vegetables that you could order. We
Kikuya Kikuya Kikuya

Kushikatsu Restuarant, Shinsekai
ordered tonnes of them. I think we ordered pretty much every kind of meat and vegetable that was on offer. The woman cooked a couple of skewers at a time and placed them on the metal tray in front of us, she told us to wait and let them cool down a bit as they would burn our mouths if we ate them straight away. There was also a big metal container in front of us that held dipping sauce, we were warned that double dipping wasn't allowed. The skewers were nice, but after the first couple they all seemed to taste the same. The clam one was definitely my favourite, it tasted like fish fingers, I would kill for some fish fingers, why haven't they broken into the Asian market yet?!

After dinner we went for a walk around the area. It was pretty quiet and the streets were fairly empty. Most of the shops were shuttered but a few were open. We could see the Tsutenkaku Tower, and we watched it change colour. It was kind of gaudy, but I liked it nonetheless. The part that we walked around didn't feel seedy or dangerous at all. But
Kikuya Kikuya Kikuya

Kushikatsu Restuarant, Shinsekai
there wasn't much going on we headed back towards the subway station.

29th Sept: I only really had the morning to explore in Osaka, so I couldn't venture too far. I had spent some time the previous evening looking over the different places that I could go and whittled the list down to a couple of temples. I went for the one that seemed the easiest to get to, Tenmangu Shrine. After a breakfast of champions (cheese and salami set) and a couple of rice balls, one with salmon and the other with fish roe, I was ready for the off. I was staying near Fukushima Station and the train I wanted to take was from Shin-Fukushima Station, which was about a five minute walk away. There was a film crew on my street, I don't know what they were filming, but they had some props set up and there were quite a few people pottering about. I think that the train fare was only a couple of hundred yen. The station and the train both weren't very busy. I love the women only carriages, not a smelly old man in sight. I wish the Seoul Metro would re-introduce
Kikuya Kikuya Kikuya

Kushikatsu Restuarant, Shinsekai
them. I only had to travel a couple of stations so the journey was only 5 minutes.

I exited the subway station and walked through a shopping street, as it was quite early, most of the shops and restaurants weren't open. I enjoyed walking through the shopping street, as it felt like a slice of normal Japan and a change from all the tourist attractions that I had visited. I think I enjoyed walking through the street a bit too much as I reached the end of it and came to a busy road. I had missed the turning for the shrine. I retraced my steps and found the signs pointing the way to the temple. To be fair, the signs were pretty small and all in Japanese. The first entrance to the temple, that I came to was the car park, but a little further along the street there is the proper entrance.

Tenmangu shrine was established in the tenth century. It is one of the most important shrines in Japan and is dedicated to the Shinto deity, Sugawara Michizane. I had a good wander around the shrine. it was quite quiet. One thing I love about
Kikuya Kikuya Kikuya

Kushikatsu Restuarant, Shinsekai
religion here is that people don't seem to make a big deal of it. When I was wandering around the shrine, people would just pop in and offer a prayer on their way to work. So simple; no pomp, no ceremony. There was a building to the side of the main shrine, and it was covered with different emas, wooden plaques that people write their wishes on, the emas were huge and each one was dated with a different year and had a different design on. I wonder if the shrine changed it's image every year, or if these were special ones going off the Chinese zodiac. There were a couple of smaller shrines at the back of the temple, so I had a look around those too. Across the back of the temple there was a pond which had some turtles swimming and sunbathing. There was a little bridge to cross and there was another kind of shrine, but they seemed to be a cafe or something attached to it.

When I exited the subway, I decided to head to the 100 yen shop, that was about a ten minute walk away. I was pretty disappointed when I found it was tiny and attached to a supermarket. However the supermarket was great and I stocked up on Japanese goodies to take home with me. I bought ramen, Japanese curry both ready made and in block form, and crisps. my favourite seaweed, and I branched out and bought some pea ones, that are really good too. I headed back to the hostel to drop off my goodies and then I headed out again. The film crew were still at work. I hadn't had any sushi yet, so I headed to Osaka Station as there were some sushi restaurants near there. The lady in the hostel had told me that there was one in a shopping mall on the way to Osaka Station. I reached the shopping centre and walked through the entrance way, which was lined with restaurants, I presume this is where the woman meant, I walked up and down a couple of times, but couldn't find a conveyor belt sushi place, only a regular one.

I headed towards Osaka station, which was only a couple of minutes further up the road. The sushi place I had originally intended to go was meant to be there. I don't know if the map was a bit outdated as the area, where the restaurant should have been appeared to be under construction and filled with buses. I thought that maybe it was in Osaka Station, so I had a bit of a walk around in there. I thought I had been the sushi hunt for about half an hour, but when I checked my phone, it had been almost an hour! Bugger! I was running out of time, but I wanted to eat sushi. I couldn't come to Japan and not eat sushi. I still can't forgive myself for not eating it on my first trip to Tokyo. There was one more place marked on the map, so I decided to try and find it.

The sushi gods decided to help me out a bit, and I found the third place easily. It was called Sakae. When I walked through the door, I think I died and went to heaven. It was filled wall to wall with Japanese salary men on their lunch breaks. There was one Koran family tucked away in the corner, but I happily ignored them, I didn't want anyone to ruin my fantasy. I ate a tonne of sushi, it was all delicious. There was one that reminded me of the delicious sea clam one that I had in Kyoto Station. I managed to eat ten plates of sushi, the salmon was fab. I went a la carte, picking off the plates I fancied. However, all the salary men around me had some kind of lunch set. It was quite a big box, that was filled with a few different kinds of sushi. I was also given a soup, which had a big hunk of fish in it. The sushi was pretty reasonably priced at about 135 yen a plate.

I waddled out of the restaurant. I think the area that the restaurant is in, would be good to return to at night. I bet it is filled with drunken salary men stumbling from izakaya to izakaya and a spot of karaoke. I got back to the hostel pretty quickly and got my stuff out of the luggage room. I could have ran to reach the earlier train, but just couldn't be bothered so I just sauntered up slowly for the later one. The film crew were still outside. The train fare was about 1,200 yen. I managed to get a seat and I even scared off the women sitting next to me. The train journey took about 70 minutes. Check-in was packed, but the queue moved fairly quickly. Once through security and immigration, I did something I haven't done in years, I went on a mini shopping spree in Duty Free.


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