Japan: Day 2 @ Osaka – #explodinginjapan

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Just in case you didn’t get the memo, #explodinginjapan is the official hashtag for my food adventures in Japan on Instagram (@explodingbelly). HAHA! Catch the first part of this travelogue here and some tips for you first time travelers here.

We spent our second day, which was coincidentally Christmas day, in Japan at Osaka!  Today, we will be visiting the “must visit” sites when in Osaka. They are Kuromon Ichiba Market – Dotonbori – Shinsaibashi. They are all within walking distance of each other, and you can follow the sequence in which we visited this place, it’s QUITE logical. It’s a pity we didn’t finish exploring the sights at Shinsaibashi, because I transform into Explodinguterus once every month, and even the strongest painkillers do not work on me. Too much info, let’s get on to the morning of this glorious Christmas day of 2015!

Kuromon Ichiba Market
Address: 2 Chome-4-1 Nipponbashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0073, Japan
Google map: 10 minutes walk from Namba Station

Osaka is known as the FOOD HAVEN of Japan, and Kuromon Ichiba is one of the main food markets in Osaka, which is located in the Namba area. A 600m long market, featuring 170 stores, Kuromon Ichiba (黒門市場) is THE kitchen of Osaka, where locals and even cooks, shop for ingredients, and also where a hell lot of tour buses make a stop at. According to my research, don’t expect the freshest seafood (but still fresh, just not freshest) in Kuromon Ichiba, because they don’t have access to them, hence much lesser sashimi stalls here as compared to Tsujiki Fish Market in Tokyo! More details with more FOOD on the post catered to just Kuromon Ichiba up soon!

Anyway, we made our way to Kuromon Ichiba in the morning! Our first time taking their trains, okay, besides the one we took from the airport. It was pretty challenging trying to get a single trip ticket because I didn’t know how to READ the super messy map and find Namba station from the hundreds of stations and lines listed there, and the machines didn’t quite respond to my touch. You apparently had to count the stops and decide on the price and pay it before you can press anything on the screen. It can be pretty confusing for first timers. That’s why better to buy the card and tap in and out.
Photo 25-12-15, 11 53 00 AMAfter we sought help from a local, we got our tickets and we were off to Namba!
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Really, if you only have limited time in Osaka, your best bet would be visiting Namba and Umeda/Osaka station!

It took us a relatively long walk (~10 minutes) through these shops..

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I heard they have the best buns in Japan. Didn’t try because long queue and save stomach space for the market. They are quite commonly found around Osaka.

At least got things to see. Food. Food and More food.

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Then capsule shop, which my mum didn’t want to stop at. Bitch. HAHA okay lah, partly cause the machines didn’t have cute toys.
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Followed by a DAMN LONG STRETCH of road, and if you’re observant enough, you’re able to see a Pachinko store on both sides of the road. Again.
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After working out, this finally greeted us. Okay lah, it took us by surprise because I wasn’t expecting it to appear so soon. It reads Kuromon Ichiba in Chinese, because Kuromon Ichiba translates to Black Gate, and hence the chinese name – hei men. Photo 25-12-15, 12 26 35 PM
While my mum got caught up by the cute puppies in the display of the pet store on the left of the entrance, Photo 25-12-15, 12 27 58 PM
I was intrigued by this view. So I stopped in the middle of the road to take this, then a person decided to photobomb me. Ugh.

And we are here at the market! Look at the huge fish hanging from the ceiling! CUTE!Photo 25-12-15, 12 30 02 PM
You’ll catch stalls after stalls like this, selling freshly grilled seafood and shell fish, all at very affordable prices. Photo 25-12-15, 12 30 55 PM
Also, in that chilly weather,
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We had their traditional – Oden. Like yong tau foo, but BETTER, to keep our bellies warm before stuffing them with seafood.
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We then had some butter soy sauce scallops because we saw a long queue!Photo 25-12-15, 12 14 11 PM
Super good, super, super good, and unhealthy with the amounts of butter and soy sauce.

We had MORE scallops. Photo 25-12-15, 11 59 31 AM

And octopuses with… quail egg stuffed in their head! Photo 25-12-15, 11 55 24 AM
Photo 25-12-15, 11 58 20 AMOkay lah, while a lot of people online made it sound REALLY REALLY tasty, when I ate it, I thought it was like that lor. Chewy octopus, not much taste, and just really not much taste.

We spent a good 2 hours at the market stuffing our faces with more food that this. I’ll come up with a separate post for them to introduce the stalls, and finally ending off the trail with some ice cream!
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Sakura flavor hor.
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Oh, oh some where along the same stretch as this ice cream, we found the rest spot, WITH WIFI. WHAT. Haha!

En route to Dotonbori

While I was complaining to my mum about how stuffed I was, we saw this taiyaki (little baked fishies) store along the way to dotonbori.
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Then i got hungry like within 3 minutes.
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I found out that there was SWEET POTATO flavor. Wow, that’s something new. And an unwritten rule is, when in Japan, eat sweet potato. I don’t know where that came from, but I always had this impression that sweet potatoes in Japan were solid.Photo 25-12-15, 12 47 13 PM
SO, I got my first fish. Photo 25-12-15, 12 47 53 PM
I can’t stop raving about how generous the Japanese are with their fillings in EVERYTHING. Very much unlike that of Singapore. When I last had this in SIngapore, it was like 40% fillings, 60% fish bread. This was like 80% fillings, and every mouthful was accompanied by the taste of sweet potato. The sweet potato mash was also OH SO SWEET and delicious. Now, that rule holds even more weight in my life. HAHA!

We continued walking for a bit and before we knew it, we’ve arrived at the bustling streets of Dotonbori! We passed by the famous-ish owl cafe too! But didn’t go in cause I don’t like birds.


You’d know that you’ve reached Dotonbori, when you see throngs of crowds and huge billboards in the shape of food sticking out of nowhere. Dotonbori is one of the main tourist attractions of Osaka, and are known best for having a large number of restaurants and food places in a single area. They are also known for their famous “Glico running man” billboard, which you’d see later.Photo 25-12-15, 2 39 54 PM
See.. I’m not lying about the food thingy sticking out of nowhere. Photo 25-12-15, 2 36 34 PM
Even got sushi. SO CUTE.

Even before we entered the main streets of Dotonbori, this flashy green food truck stopped us in our tracks, not with its visuals, but THAT aroma. The amazing smell of MELON. We looked up and saw a SUPER LONG LINE forming behind this little van. Photo 25-12-15, 12 57 24 PM
Umm.. I think I’m hungry again. And okay, then we went to join the queue. Photo 25-12-15, 1 12 13 PM
I only got so close to this glorious piece of invention after a good half an hour of queueing. It was crazy. But oh so worth it. WHY?

This bun, is not just any bun. It’s a BO LUO CRUSTED MELON BUN, with an ice cream in between. Textures and flavors are ALL ON POINT. IT was served warm as well, and if you guys have been following my blog, the hot-cold combination? I AM SOLD. Best damn melon bun I’ve ever eaten. Scrap that. BEST DAMN BUN I’VE HAD. It’s so good, I’m gonna do a review on it with its address, and full menu on a separate post.

After gaining about 3kgs from all that eating, there we go exploring the streets of Dotonbori and entering random shops. If you’re looking for something to bring back for your loved ones, there’s a snack store which sells a ton of sexy flavored snacks like pocky and what not, as well as pretz with the glico man on it. If you don’t know what’s the big deal with this Glico man (neither do I actually), it was in this very store when I explained to my mum its significance. For Singaporeans, the significance of this Glico guy is akin to the representation of merlion to Singapore. Yeah… Kinda.

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We are finally here at the most touristy spot of Osaka – YA GLICO MAN. Selfies galore. I decided that I’m not so mainstream and hence did not take a picture with it, instead I took a picture far into the horizon. Am I a photographer yet?Photo 25-12-15, 1 47 51 PM
This view confirm much prettier than my face with glico man.

Ahead, lies one of the longest shopping streets I’ve seen – Shinsaibashi. As you can see there’s a huge H&M, on BOTH sides of the road. SIAO. That’s not even the start of Shinsaibashi.
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Here we are at the inside of Shinsaibashi. It’s a SHOPPING HAVEN for everyone. Photo 25-12-15, 1 52 31 PM
It was also about this time when I died of cramps, but we still managed to visit a few shops, and even went into the pancake cafe I’ve planned to visit to have coffee! No pancakes there, much to my dismay and protesting uterus.

Further into Shinsaibashi lies yet another 15 storey departmental store, with MORE shops further up! We didn’t finish exploring because I couldn’t walk any longer and we headed back to our hotel for the evening!

I took a hell lot of meds and went to bed, and woke up feeling 100%. YAY. We then decided to have some piping hot ramen from Ippudo! We spotted it whilst on our way to HEP 5 the day before! Photo 25-12-15, 6 38 39 PM
I’ve never tried the ramen from Ippudo before, even though they’ve opened in Singapore! So, I was really excited to try them! More will be up on the individual review as well! Photo 25-12-15, 6 42 01 PM
We waited for 45 minutes in the brrrrrr cold. WHY DO YOU LIKE TO QUEUE MY JAPANESE FRIENDS. Is there an express tourist pass?!Photo 25-12-15, 7 01 37 PM
And we were finally inside. It was really cramped and crowded, and oh, loook at that hottie behind the glass. He’s really very good looking and he also kept looking over. Maybe cause I started it… That’s why. HAHA!Photo 25-12-15, 7 06 16 PM
Hmm.. While my mum was really impressed with the noodles, I was more impressed by the runny egg, which I forgot to take a picture of. I thought… This was okay only leh. Not DAMN nice lah. But it’s nice, I guess.

We headed back to HEP FIVE for more shopping, however the mall closes at 9pm. Most departmental stores closes at 8pm, leaving us with nothing much to do at night. It’s horrible. Especially when the streets sell NOTHING but FOOD. It’s like I want to see something else and buy something other than food.

We resorted to visiting the FIRST 7-11 store we saw and look! Photo 25-12-15, 8 15 13 PM Photo 25-12-15, 8 15 23 PM
OMG?! Why Singapore don’t have such cute cakes in 7-11?! UNFAIR.Photo 25-12-15, 8 15 57 PM
LOOK AT THAT ARRAY OF INSTANT NOODLES TOO. I was too conscious of my food intake, and I can’t believe I didnt try ANY of these instant noodles in Japan. I regret. I repent. I will go back and eat, or at least dabao back.Photo 25-12-15, 8 16 59 PM
|I didn’t want to drink red tea but eee the bottle so cute, so I took a picture of it.

We wandered along the streets outside of the mall, and saw this beautiful sight. Photo 25-12-15, 8 28 37 PM
It’s everywhere actually. Like EVERYWHERE. I used to love these a lot when I was a kid, when it used to be $1 per egg, now it’s like $3 or $5. RIPOFF. I got myself a squishy squishy gudetama.
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Whilst on our way back to the hotel, we spotted this UFO catcher place, and it’s probably the only form of entertainment at night + booze + yakitori + karaoke. We stood around for 15 minutes to watch this couple catch gudetama, and my mother just decided to ask me to try catching one as well. Photo 25-12-15, 8 52 50 PM
It was initially JUST A TRY. That’s why I didn’t take any pictures. However, my first grab got gudetama in a SEEMINGLY vulnerable position. So we decided to GO ALL THE WAY. Even though I told my mum we only spent $20+ catching this gudetama, I swear I spent almost $50, trying to poke the tama to make it drop. Not even exaggerating, because I calculated halfway through, and it was already $25, but I decided to shut up about it. HAHA!Photo 25-12-15, 8 54 03 PM
We cheered like 2 mad girls when gudetama finally dropped. Okay lah, in Singapore, this would have easily cost us $70. IT WAS SO SQUISHY, I WAS IN LOVE. Photo 25-12-15, 8 54 15 PM
Here’s a close-up of it. And my mum chose this camo pattern because I promised to catch this for her! I would’ve gone for the egg shell one though! HAHA! But she like can already! YAY! I’m still so happy looking at this, and my mum was so happy because I caught it for her for Christmas. But she forgot that she actually paid for this on her own. HAHA!

After which, we’ve also tried to look for a nice little cafe amongst the eateries to go for a drink or ice cream at about 10-ish, but to NO AVAIL. Everywhere was just booze and mains. I can’t even. We had to settle for some canned drinks from the machine, and walk a longggggg route back to the hotel! It was an awesome night out nonetheless. Because, Gudetama!

Stay tuned for Day 3 in TOKYO with explodingbelly!







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