Ben and I spent the last chunk or our honeymoon in Osaka. It’s not the tourist haven that Kyoto, and Tokyo are, but if you are coming to Japan for food, Osaka should definitely be high on your list. Osaka has been the “kitchen” of Japan. It is a large port city, and was a major trading point both internationally and within Japan. Foods from all over the nation have been brought to Osaka where they have been amped up, and in my opinion perfected. Japanese food is excellent, but it all starts to taste the same. Without a very refined palate (which I cannot afford), I don’t think most people would be able to tell you one chef from the next, foods are highly standardized. In Osaka, the chef defines the meal, we had okonomiyaki 3 times in Osaka, (think of a the heavenly child of an omelet and a pizza). They were all very different and quite delicious, some of them used western ingredients like sausages, others made them with tons of seafood. The chefs in Osaka are quite imaginative, and made Japanese foods the way Ben and I had always dreamed they would be made.
Western food in Osaka is significantly less bastardized than in other regions of Japan, they used pepper, spices, and aromatics, which are all essential to good western cooking, but are generally not found in other regions of Japan. The greatest downfall of Japanese cooking is the lack of aromatics. Japanese tend to favor milder flavors that would be easily overpowered by any addition of herbs so it is understandable that they are not used, but some foods such as onigiri (rice balls) and many of the soups are quite bland and would be easily improved with the right addition of spices. The people of Osaka tend to take more risks with their flavors, and although sometimes this turns out very badly, I prefer the more imaginative and flavor intensive foods of Osaka to the more traditional foods of Tokyo
Ben and I did a bit of sightseeing during our stay in Osaka, but to be honest we were so worn out by our other honeymoon adventures, that we were much more content just plopping down in whatever restaurant we could find and enjoying the cuisine.
The only notable destination we went to was Himeji castle. We were really excited. The pictures of Himeji are beautiful, a pristine white palace, with on an expansive canvas of stunning gardens… Unfortunately the castle is under renovation. Instead of the lovely white castle, all we were able to see was a completely square building, which was built around it for the duration of repairs. The repairs began in 2012, and the best estimate of the guards around it was that the castle would not be viewable again until 2020. I really think Himeji will be worth a trip back someday, but right now there are better castles to visit, and better gardens to visit. When it opens again, I would recommend coming in late June to early July because it looked like the garden had a beautiful rose garden, and a lot of hydrangea.
|Wikipedia image of Himeji|