Osaka: zoo, Dotomburi and Tako-yoki

Entering into a contrasting place to Nara felt like a slight culture shock with huge main roads and crowds of tourists.

After checking into our hostel, we were informed to trek to the Dotomburi area. It was full of bizarre moving creature above shops, flashing lights and a whole street dedicated to tourists. Next I browsed in a few shops. As I was looking in a clothes shop, I realised it was Forever 21, which we don’t have in my home town so was looking forward to going to the London shop next month. Now I’ve found one across the world.

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Once I had enjoyed a walk along the river taking in all the sights, I headed for the National Bunraku Theatre, which unfortunately didn’t have any puppet shows until November.

I went on a mission to find temples but every time I discovered that the map must have been referring to graveyards. I did visit the Shitennoji Temple, which is the most famous temple in Osaka. I am starting to discover that Osaka doesn’t really have many historical features but a more busy, shopping, eating atmosphere.

While walking around Tennoji park, which I was confused about at first (this was because there was one path enclosed with a barrier through the park and I couldn’t get in the gardens), I came across a temple with some sort of service going on. Of course, I took off my shoes and entered, kneeling at the back. A monk seemed to be calling people forward, talking to them, blessing them, then they received some sort of a certificate. It was really interesting to watch.

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After finding the entrance to the park to discover that you had to pay, which was ¥500 for the park and a zoo. Yes a zoo: one of my favourite things to do.

As it was quite late and I thought the zoo would close soon, I rushed to see the animals. I was like an excited child.
The zoo had an African Savanna section with lions, tigers, rhinos, giraffes, zebras; other animals included: monkeys, gorillas, koalas, a bear, a polar bear, penguins, seals and flight aviary.

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The animal I was most excited about was the elephant. Feeling slightly anxious that they might have been put away, I zoomed round the trees until I finally saw one: an Asian elephant. At first it was raising its truck far from where I was standing but it gradually came closer to get feed.

I did feel sad for the animals as most of them were on their own and in cages, which were rather small.

In the park, there was also the Keitakuen garden: a traditional Japanese garden circling a pond. It has to be one of the most quaint, beautiful garden I have seen, with stepping stones, windy paths, a tea room and bridges.

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In the evening, I decided to trek back to Dotomburi area through the Nipponbashi, where there was Den-Den town (electronics district), to see the bright neon lights. By the river, there were dancer in traditional Japanese clothing accompanied by drums: they were dancing around in a circle waving their arms. In an arcade, there was a guy playing a dancing game, who was amazing and so fast.

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The street were bustling with people amazed by the lights and atmosphere, where street food was served outside every few shop: dinner sorted. I went for an Osaka speciality: Tako-yoki. These were ball of a sort of batter mixture with octopus, covered in mayonnaise and a sweet, thick soy sauce: they were delicious. The chefs were spinning the balls at a phenomenal speed.

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While eating them with chop sticks, a guy advertising a restaurant came to speak to me and showed me how to use chop sticks properly. Then he was asking me standard introduction question. After, him and some others wanted to ask me who I thought was the most handsome: so funny. They started bowing towards me and putting out their hand like they wanted to give me a handshake. I shook the first one and the others applauded indicating that I had chosen him.

Just before heading back, I walked up the famous Shinsaibashi shopping arcade, which is over a mile long and filled with shops, restaurants and bars.

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