Cherry Blossom Season in Osaka

NOTE: I have a lot to say on many topics in Japan. Rather than trying to condense them into one huge post, I’ll write more frequent, shorter articles. Sorry for the delays on this so far, but this entry was becoming enormous.

TL;DR

My three-and-a-bit weeks in Osaka were quite simply magical. I can’t say enough nice things about the country, the city, the people, the transit system, and one cafe in particular.

Flights

The flight from Vancouver to Osaka felt pretty short, likely due to the various devices that I had to entertain me. I remember 5-hour flights being excruciatingly long as a child, but felt shorter. It’s 9 hours to Narita, a 2-hour layover, and another hour-and-a-half flight to Osaka.

Because of a delayed flight, I ended up on business class on the Narita to Osaka flight. This is the way to fly when you’re sleepy! A chair that folks out into a bed? Yes please!

Accommodation

My Airbnb was a little further out from the city centre, in a city called Toyonaka. It’s really pretty, with a lot of parks, the Japan Century Orchestra, and a bunch of shops and restaurants.

The Airbnb itself was small by Canadian standards, but I’d call it “Brooke sized”. I like small places, and this was just enough for a bed, washroom, mini-fridge, and hotplate. My Airbnb host was really excellent, leaving me little treats when she’d change the towels, and even inviting me to her home in the mountains to cook takoyaki!

Food

Osaka is known for its food. I can’t get enough of okonomiyaki and takoyaki. The later one surprised me, as I’m not exactly a huge fan of seafood, and it’s pretty much ocean-y from the batter to octopus inside.

Internet Access

The internet in Japan is strange from a North American perspective. The actual wired speeds are really fast. Most shops also have WiFi (even corner stores!), but you generally have to log in, and sometimes even are required to have an account set up ahead of time (which can be a bit of a Catch-22). Further, often the free WiFi simply doesn’t work at all. Having a tethering plan is pretty much a must for these situations.

Tech Scene

Osaka has a growing tech scene, with a few public initiatives to encourage startups in the city. There is a Haskell meetup, was unable to find any other FP meet ups in English (please let me know if I missed one!) I had meant to go to the Haskell meetup, but was called back to North America for a company meeting (and to apply for my working holiday permit).

Coffee

The cafes in Osaka range from the frequent Starbucks to very artisanal one-person shops. Fewer people seem to loiter in coffee shops than in North America, but it also doesn’t seem unusual. If you’re in Osaka, I recommend Granknot Coffee and Brooklyn Coffee Roasters :)