Cafe, Food

OSARU Coffee – Cafes Osaka

Osaru Coffee Osaka

OSARU Coffee is one of the newest in a stream of coffee houses and cafes popping up over Osaka. Located between Namba OCAT and Naniwa Park, this sweet little corner cafe has brought delicious drip coffee to Motomachi. Bright and airy OSARU’s indoor-outdoor feel make it the ideal neighborhood shop for slowly sipping away the day. Continue reading…

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Dinner, Food, Lunch

Cante Grande – Indian Curry in Osaka

Cante Grande Curry Plate

I’ll start with a little disclaimer: I’m not a fan of spicy foods. So, when Adrienne suggested taking me to Cante Grande after our exploration of Utsubo Koen, I wanted to make a run for it. To my surprise, I found myself loving this place, not only because of the warm atmosphere, but mainly for their not-too-spicy curry dishes! Of course, I have not been to many Indian curry restaurants, but I have tried a few other places prior to visiting this one, so I think that qualifies me enough to give my two cents. Continue reading…

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Fall, Food, Seasonal Events

Manpaku Food Festival – Osaka October Events

Are you ready to EAT?! Well, get ready because the annual Manpaku food festival is coming to Osaka! The aptly named Manpaku, is a combination of the words manpuku, meaning ‘full stomach’ and hakurankai meaning ‘exhibition’. This food exhibition is the largest in Japan and will surely please any food lover. On offer, are a variety of international cuisines, Japanese popular staples, unique regional specialties and a wide selection of local beer to wash them all down with. If you find yourself needing a break from all the tastiness, take a stroll around the park to check out the non-food stalls and the live entertainment. Craft making, games and play zones mean a fun day out for the whole family.  Continue reading…

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Cafe, Top Picks

Standard Bookstore – Osaka’s Best books & more!

Standard Bookstore Osaka

Osaka’s Standard Bookstore is anything but standard. Filled with an abundant collection of art, culture, fashion and lifestyle books and magazines there is something for everyone at each of their three Osaka locations; Abeno, Chayamachi and Shinsaibashi. And while you can find books on almost anything you could imagine, there is one thing you won’t see at Standard – a best seller. This is such a point of pride for them that they even use it as their slogan, ‘A bookshop that doesn’t sell best sellers’. So if you’re after the latest Nicholas Spark’s love story, you’ll need to look elsewhere but if you fancy spending time perusing limited edition photo collections, handmade local zines and rare international magazines this is the shop for you! 
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Entertainment, Fall, Hiking, Seasonal Events, Spring

Hoshi no Buranko – Hiking Japan

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Near Kisaichi station (Keihan Railways), Fumin no Mori is one of the largest national parks in the greater Osaka area and boasts having one of the best beginner hiking courses. The national park is made up of 8 smaller parks: Kurondo Enchi, HoshidaEnchi, Muroike Enchi, Kusaka Enchi, Nukata Enchi, Narukawa Enchi, Mizunomi Enchi, and Chihaya Enchi, each containing their own unique draw. My personal favorite, Hoshida Enchi, spreads over 105 hectares, and has hiking courses that all lead to the stunning centerpiece Hoshi no Buranko (Star Bridge). The bridge takes it’s name from the Tanabata legend because it is believed the the Amanogawa River (Milky Way) runs through the park. You can read more about Tanabata here. Continue reading…

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Destinations

Minoh Spa Garden Onsen

Minoh Spa Garden

No day out in Minoh would be complete without an otsukare soak at the Minoh Spa Garden Onsen. Located just a short stroll from the station it’s the ideal finish to a day of exploration and hiking before jumping back on the train to Osaka. (Check out Candice’s post on Minoh Park, here)

For those wishing to stay the night, Spa Garden is part of the Minoh Kanko Hotel which offers several types of stay options. You can check out their website here (Japanese only). Despite Spa Garden’s new and modernized look, the facility lacks English instructions which can make it a bit difficult to navigate. Below is a quick how-to for your time at the onsen. Continue reading…

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Seasonal Events

Gangara Himatsuri – Ikeda Fire Festival

Gangara Fire Festival

As summer nears its end, so too does the hustle and bustle of the seasons festivals. And although I’m quite happy to bid cicadas adieu, I felt a bit sad heading to our last festival of summer. The Gangara Himatsuri is an annual summer event held in Ikeda City on August 24th. Similar to Gozan no Okuribi in Kyoto, Gangara Himatsuri is a torching ceremony. Taking place at Mt. Satsuki’s Atago Shrine the words 大(dai) and 大一(dai-ichi) are lit on the south and west sides of the mountain. The 大 stands for Heaven and 一 stands for Earth. On the same night, two gigantic hay rods 4 meters long and weighing a staggering 100 kilograms are set alight and hauled around the city to usher in the autumn season.

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Cafe, Dessert, Dinner, Food, Lunch

Sangmi Cafe – Organic in Osaka

Sanmi Cafe Osaka

With four locations throughout Osaka, organic cafe, Sangmi, has made eating healthy easier than ever. Focusing on three key elements: external beauty, internal health, and well being, all dishes are lovingly prepared using locally sourced ingredients. The base of the meal sets is their signature brown rice. Grown in Hiroshima without pesticides it contains loads of Vitamins B and E and has up to 6 times the fiber of traditional white rice.

Like their rice, Sangmi cafes are equally selective with their eggs. Sourced from chickens fed on a balanced diet, the eggs are naturally low in cholesterol and have a much richer taste. I definitely noticed a difference from my store-bought eggs in not only taste, but also the texture; it was a lot stickier. For lunch there are a couple of sets to choose from and they average around ¥1,000. The sets include, brown rice, your choice of a main dish, soup and a few small sides. You definitely get a lot for your money and won’t walk away hungry. That being said, if you do have a bit more room for dessert I highly recommend the tofu pudding with brown-sugar syrup. It’s one of their most popular dishes for good reason!

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Fall, Seasonal Events, Spring, Summer

Utsubo Koen – Osaka’s Best Parks

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Roses in every shade and shape imaginable right in the heart of the city! Like a page from an English gardening magazine or a scene from Alice in Wonderland, Osaka’s Utsubo Koen is truly an urban oasis. At first glance, the size of the park is a bit deceiving but as you begin to walk around you soon realize that it is much larger than it looks.

The reason for this is its unique history once being used as an airplane runway by the United States during WWII. After the war, the space was rebuilt into a park and today contains approximately 160 different species of roses and free to the public all year around. In addition to the April – May Rose Garden, the park also holds a sculpture exhibition from mid-October to November. Both are definitely worth a visit as are the tennis courts located on the western side of the park. There are 16 courts in all but they do tend to fill up quickly so if you intend to play, it’s best to reserve.

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Machete Tacos – Mexican in Namba

Machete Tacos

Over the past few years more and more Mexican restaurants have been popping up in Osaka, a development that I know I’m not alone in welcoming. This year, as luck would have it, I watched with great anticipation and a few hunger pangs as the old cafe next to my apartment transformed into one more – Machete Tacos.

From the custom-welded cactus window guards and the vintage light fixtures, to the hand-drawn desert motif covering the windows it is easy to see that Machete Tacos was made with love. This attention to detail also extends to the food. The colorfully designed menus offer all the delicious basics; burritos, tacos, enchiladas, nachos just to name a few. For the thirsty, they have a wide range of tequilas and Mexican Beers as well as several soft drinks. I personally love the guava juice.     Continue reading…

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