8 Days in Japan - Day 7 in Yamazaki/Osaka

Aug 1, 2017 -

Day 7 in Kyoto, Yamazaki, and Osaka

Key Highlights

- Breakfast at 7-11
- Self-Guided Tour at Yamazaki Distillery
- Dropped off luggage at Osaka Guesthouse Hive
- Lunch at Okonomiyaki Momji
- Being touristy at Osaka Castle
- Dinner at Okonomiyaki Chitose
- Experiencing Japanese Nightmarket at Dōtonbori
- Finally eating Okonomiyaki dinner at Ajinoya
- Second dinner at a takoyaki stand

My travel partner and I left our glorious Prime Pod in Kyoto at around 9:00 AM. We had a 10:30 AM reservation at the Yamazaki Distillery, so we needed to make haste. Yes, alcohol before lunch. We picked up two pieces of bread for breakfast at a 7-11 near by the Prime Pod. It was an hour ride from Kyoto to Yamazaki via the Shinkansen.

When we got to the Yamazaki station and exited, we made a sharp right. Then we followed the Yamazaki street signs to the Yamazaki Distillery. It was about a ten minute walk from the train station. When you cross a set of train tracks, you'll see the check-in center and just beyond that is the white visitor center. Luckily for us, there were storage lockers for our luggage. You'll have to put in a 100 Yen coin, but you get it back when you leave.

Yamazaki Distillery Guest Entrance
The actual visitor center is a small while building. Unfortunately, we didn't sign up early enough online for a guided tour of the Yamazaki Distillery. Nonetheless, with the self guided tour, we saw plenty of history from how Shinjiro Torii started the company in 1923 to the company winning world's best whisky in 2015. The visitor center featured a lot of unique whiskeys, but most importantly there was a tasting area. While you did have to pay for the tasting, they were very affordable. At less than 1000 Yen, we were able to taste three different Japanese whiskeys. All of which were only available at the distillery. At the gift shop, I stopped to pick up a Yamazaki glass, a coaster, and then a bottle of their straight whiskey. All for less than $20 USD. What a steal!

By the time we left the Yamazaki Distillery, it was just past 1:30 PM. Both my travel partner and I were hungry and had just drank three glasses of whiskey without having more than just the 7-11 bread in our stomachs from the morning. We made our way to Osaka via the train, which took us another hour.

Hibiki 30, Hakushu 25 and Yamazaki 25
The first thing we did when we arrived in Osaka was rush to our Osaka Guesthouse Hive to drop off our luggage. What we noticed was that this hostel was small and cramped. It was not as nice as the place we stayed at in Kyoto or Tokyo. While it was still livable, instead of capsules or pods, it was one room with bunk beds. At least smoking indoors was prohibited and we were only going to be there for one night.

We went back to the station and headed towards Okonomiyaki Momji in search of food, or so I thought. Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savoury pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning "how you like" or "what you like", and yaki meaning "grill". After crossing the street underground and coming up on the other side, we were lost. The Google Maps GPS was throwing off our location. We must have put in the wrong location. I don't even remember if we ate lunch that day.

Osaka Castle from the outside
The Osaka Castle was closing at 5:00 PM and we wanted to make it before it closed. So, we rushed back to the station and hopped on the Osaka Loop Line. After one or two stops, I noticed we were going the opposite direction away from Osaka Castle. We jumped off and took the right one. After what seemed like a 25 minute walk from the station, we finally made it to the Osaka Castle. It is a remarkable castle, built in 1583. We paid the fee of about 600 Yen per person to go inside. There were relics and battle paintings, sculptures, and documents. While I would like to say it was well worth it, I was a bit disappointed as everything had been remodeled for tourists. From the top, you can see a good view of the city and sky line.  

A co-worker of mine had just came back from Japan two weeks before and recommended that we eat at Okonomiyaki Chitose. The restaurant is located in the outskirts of the city and in an older part of town. I zig zagged left and right and walked about 25 minutes with a hangry girlfriend only to arrive at Okonomiyaki Chitose to find it out it was closed for the day. I was ready to just pick a place nearby and eat. The place was run down and there were a lot of drinking pubs with old people singing karaoke. Definitely not the part of town that you want to spend a nice evening at.

Dontonbori! We found it!
We were determined to eat good food that night. In fact, we walked all the way back to the station and looked for the famous Dōtonbori nightlife. We ended up at Ajinoya for okonomiyaki, which is a Michelin star guide restaurant. There was about a 20 minute wait. But when we sat down and saw the food, it was well worth the wait. We've had okonomiyaki near Culver City, CA, but this was on a different level. They made their own sauce here and the flavor was just incredible. We ordered some grilled noodles and then a okonomiyaki to share. There is a great deal of other food places in Dōtonbori including restaurant that served crab and even fugu (Japanese for pufferfish). We wanted to take advantage of being in Osaka for only one day, so we found some takoyaki. Supposedly, Osaka is famous for takoyaki. After our second dinner, we were exhausted. It was time to head back to our hostel and retire for the night.

Ajinoya's Okonomiyaki
My travel partner had booked all the hostels and hotels for the trip. Day 8 is the last night in Japan and we were going to spend it in a hotel. Or so I thought. When I asked her where we had booked the hotel, she said near the airport. Then I looked at the hotel reservation and it said Narita airport hotel. Oh boy, our flight was out of Haneda. Although we were not able to get a refund for the hotel reservation, we did find a cheap hostel to stay. Stay tuned for day 8 to see how that went.

8 Days in Japan - Day 8 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 1 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 2 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 3 in Tokyo
8 Days in Japan - Day 4 in Hakone
8 Days in Japan - Day 5 in Kyoto
8 Days in Japan - Day 6 in Kyoto/Nara
8 Days in Japan - Day 7 in Yamazaki/Osaka

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