It’s been a few months since my last Japan update due to my extended trips to Europe and America, but I am happy to be publishing a lengthy article on my recent trip to Nagoya, Kyoto, and Osaka this summer! The purpose of this trip was to attend the World Cosplay Summit of 2023, and also cross off some more hiking trips and cafes off of my bucket list. This is the first summer in almost 3 years that Japan has been open for tourism since the emergency state regarding the pandemic, so many accommodations have risen in price. However, I was still able to find some nice last-minute deals and the increase of tourists didn’t get in the way of anything I had planned. I’m happy to report that even though I’ve been to these cities many times, there are always new things to discover!
For a detailed guide on World Cosplay Summit, please see my review from last year.
Nagoya and the Oshi no Ko Exhibition
Before changing into cosplay, I decided to buy tickets to the Oshi no Ko Exhibition titled “Lies and Ai” held in the Nagoya PARCO art gallery. This exhibition mostly focused on scenes from the very first episode featuring Ai’s mysterious life and Ruby and Aqua’s childhood. I loved all of the tiny details that were put into the entrances, the life-sized rooms from the anime, and the official costumes on display. The tour comes with an optional voice guide using Ai’s voice actress which adds emotion to the experience. I definitely felt like I had stepped into the anime and was watching all of the events unfold firsthand.
Unfortunately this exhibition was only held for a limited time and is now over, but there should be more in the future as season two of the anime has already been announced.
Aesthetic Food Finds in Nagoya
Nagoya has some of the best cafes in Japan and I was happy to discover more of them on this trip. Above all, I recommend the panda cheesecake from yama cofee. With a touch of lemon flavor and adorable chocolate panda toppings, this cheesecake is one of the best that I’ve ever had! It was almost too cute to eat. Almost. Next is the strawberry cake from Amanda Sweets Gallery. Shaped like a real strawberry, it has a sweet fruity filling that will definitely satisfy your sweet tooth. Lastly there is the Alice in Wonderland parfait from Cafe de Lyon. This parfait is quite fancy with fresh fruits, both whipped cream and ice cream, and cake and pudding inside! While eating it I felt like I had stepped into a wonderland of flavor with every bite. Honestly all of these places are worth checking out!
Kyoto and Kuramadera
Since my last trip to Kyoto, I’ve seen all of the noteworthy temples in the main part of the city so I decided to go off the beaten path and see Kuramadera in the mountains this time. Mt. Kurama, which you need to hike in order to reach the temple, is said to be the home of tengu deities. Tengu are mischievous red creatures with long noses who are fabled to specialize in swordsmanship. Whether they are good or evil is unknown, but I sensed a welcoming presence from the tengu statues around Kurama Station. You can find tengu masks and souvenirs all around the shops in Kurama to satisfy your inner yokai.
Hiking up to the temple takes about one hour and the mountain is pretty easy to climb. However, you can also take a cable car from Kurama Station for 200 yen that will take you to the temple. I decided to hike the way up and take the cable car down since I had already gone running this morning. The views from Kuramdera are incredible so if you’re up for the hike then I definitely recommend it!
You can also combine a trip to Kurama with Kibune Shrine. Please see my article here for directions and more information.
Address: 1074 Kuramahonmachi, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, 601-1111
Entrance Fee: 300 yen
Aesthetic Food Finds in Kyoto
Kyoto has no shortage of aesthetic food from sushi to ice cream and I’m happy to recommend more of my favorite places. First up is This is Shizen which is a nature store that serves realistic flower bouquet ice cream. Though there were a few different options, I decided to try the sunflower bouquet since it was the newest addition to their menu. I loved the sweet frosting that was paired with the ice cream—it definitely hit the spot on a hot summer day. Next is the seasonal peach dessert from Gion Sakai which is shaped like a water balloon. Picture fresh peaches coated in white chocolate and this is what you get. Though it was a little difficult to eat at first, I highly recommend it. As for lunch, I recommend the sushi course from Gion Ichiho because it is made with local ingredients and is filling. Though I’ve eaten a lot of great meals, this was one of my top picks in Kyoto! Finally is the chilled summer soba from suba. I’ve written about this place before and will gladly recommend it again because the noodles here are out of this world!
Osaka and the Family Guy Bar (The Drunken Clam)
One of the most meme-worthy bars in Osaka is the Family Guy karaoke bar, better known as The Drunken Clam. At first I thought this bar was a myth, but after hearing about it from multiple friends and making the journey there myself, I can confirm that it does indeed exist! This English speaking bar attracts both tourists and locals so it is a great place to socialize and make friends while singing your favorite tunes. The menu has a wide selection of cocktails and specialty drinks which are quite large in portion size. I enjoyed seeing all of the art and decorations because it truly felt like the bar from the hit anime Family Guy. Come here for the memes and stay here for the good times.
Address: 喜久ビル 3F, 6-26 Souemoncho, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0084
Aesthetic Food Finds in Osaka
My top two recommendations for sweets in Osaka are Locanda for their moon mille-feuille made with fresh fruits and custard, and Poire du nord for their selection of sweets and strawberry delicacies. The moon mille-feuille tasted similar to a crepe and was hands down the most aesthetic thing I ate on this trip. The way the chef creatively placed the strawberries on my plate reminded me of a flower arrangement. The strawberry cake I ordered from Poire du nord was like a combination of strawberry shortcake and sweet candy. I loved the little ribbon they used to tie the candies around the cake; it was truly a nice touch that made it Instagram worthy. I can’t recommend both of these places enough!
Though tourism has soared this year, there were no issues with overcrowding and minimal wait times in all of the places I mentioned. If you’re traveling this summer, my advice is to be careful of the heat and reserve shinkansen tickets ahead of time if possible. I won a portable mini fan from the game center that has greatly aided my in my travels. My next trip will be to Dubai and Spain next week! I hopefully will have more time to write this summer, as I enjoy sharing my experiences with you. Safe travels, everyone!