After spending two days seeing Ginkakuji and eating aesthetic food in Kyoto, I decided to make my way to Osaka for the final leg of the trip. Osaka is another iconic city that I’ve been to countless times, but there are always new things to experience there. This time I made a reservation to a planetarium-themed bar that I had always wanted to go to, and also discovered the wonders of pizza takoyaki at Takotako King. I also stumbled upon a very cool shrine in the heart of Namba and made a day trip to Kobe to see friends the next day. I was happy to see that tourism was finally picking up here after the covid emergency state. If you go to Osaka, definitely be sure to check out all of the street food stalls and hidden shrines around the city!
Here is my latest article on Namba Yasaka Shrine and my top gourmet recommendations for winter 2023:
Namba Yasaka Shrine
Located in the heart of the city close to Nankai Namba Station, Namba Yasaka Shrine has a very iconic design that blends retro with modern culture. The lion-shaped head (that is actually a stage) is believed to swallow evil spirits and bestow the shrine with good luck. The shrine is small but has a lot of neat characteristics, especially considering the fact that it’s located in one of Osaka’s flashiest districts. I enjoyed seeing the lion ema with various wishes written on them hanging near the shrine’s main building, plus all of the visitors staring in awe at the lion’s head. I’ve been to Osaka many times, but never knew that this shrine existed until I researched local shrines with a map application. I would say this is one of the most unique city shrines I’ve ever visited, not to mention it has very easy access, so I would recommend it to all of my friends!
Address: 2 Chome-9-19 Motomachi, Naniwa Ward, Osaka, 556-0016
Admission Fee: Free
Tables Coffee Bakery Diner
While searching for recommended sweets cafés in Osaka, I stumbled upon the best strawberry shortcake I’ve ever had in my life at Tables Coffee Bakery Diner. This restaurant has both full meals and flavorful desserts alike. I loved how the cake was coated in creamy frosting that resembled wax burning off a candle. It was thicker than most frosting I’ve eaten in the past and was definitely one of a kind. The fresh strawberries on top and strawberry syrup surrounding the cake were also fine details that enhanced the taste of this already delicious cake. I can’t stress enough how much both the sweet flavor and aesthetic appearance of this cake blew my mind!
Address: 2 Chome-9-10 Minamihorie, Nishi Ward, Osaka, 550-0015
Star Café Spica
Star Café Spica is a planetarium-themed bar that has been on my list for quite a while, but I haven’t had the chance to visit it until this trip due to its crazy popularity. This bar requires a reservation in advance due to its timed planetarium shows that are projected on the walls to make you feel like you’re stargazing. On top of that, it also has a galaxy-themed cocktail menu and and planet lamps that create the perfect atmosphere. I ordered two meteor shower drinks that come with konpeito candies. When you drop the sugary candy in the champagne-like cocktail, it produces an effect that truly does look like a little meteor shower or falling stars! I also ordered caramel ice cream that came with a moon-shaped cookie. All of the food and drinks were great quality. It was fun learning about the galaxy in Japanese and the staff were very kind and professional. If you decided to come here, be sure to make a reservation at least a few weeks in advance.
Address: 4-18 Matsuyamachi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0067
Space Station & Takotako King
Of all of the gaming bar I’ve visited in Japan, Space Station has got to be one of my all time favorites. I love the retro neon aesthetic and all of the interesting travelers I run into here. I also really enjoy talking with the owner, Matt, because he’s also from the US and has lived in Japan multiple years so we have a lot in common. This bar has an extensive collection of not only games and consoles, but also insanely rare gamer-themed alcohol. I enjoyed seeing the Pac-Man anniversary sake and the Level Beer on this visit, and ordered a lot of cocktails with Dr. Pepper in them. I also tried the cream cheese bagel for the first time since a mini blue Donkey Kong figure was advertising it! The bagel really slapped because I was hungry after wandering through the city.
Another amazing food that I tried on this trip was pizza takoyaki from Takotako King (recommended to me by Matt). This takoyaki place is conveniently located about two buildings down from the bar so it was easy to locate. I loved the tomato sauce and creamy cheese on the takoyaki because it was savory. Last time I was in Osaka, I tried takoyaki topped with egg, so I’m excited to see what the next big topping trend is here when I visit next!
Address: 2 Chome-13-3 Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0086
CBD Cafe 4:20
CBD Café 4:20 is a small café that I visited during a previous trip, but I decided to revisit it with some friends to see what new products they had in stock. Unfortunately unlike last time, this time they removed their food menu and only had shisha and CBD smoothies on their side menu. However, I was delighted to see that they had CBD suckers and “Green Crack” with a hilarious design that resembled kush. Though these products are more expensive than what you’d find in other countries, they have a sense of originality and novelty to them making them unique to Japan. I enjoy visiting CBD shops just for the meme and seeing what crazy products they have. My CBD sucker definitely relaxed me and I felt a sense of ease while walking through Namba and Shinsaibashi. I would say this is still one of the best centrally located CBD places in Osaka even without its full menu.
Address: 3 Chome-2-15 Minamikyuhojimachi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, 541-0058
Dining Bar Shape Beach (aka the Sand Bar)
Dining Bar Shape Beach is a beach-themed bar with real sand in it, so you are prompted to take your shoes off before entering to preserve the “beach”. Like Space Station, I really enjoyed the neon retro aesthetic of this bar, not to mention the the all-you-can-drink menu you can have access to for a cheap price. The cocktails at this bar are fruity and light, so you can drink a lot while feeling like you’re on vacation in Hawaii or Okinawa. You can also choose to order stronger drinks with vodka and tequila in them to your liking. The bartenders are pretty chill and laidback here. I went here with one of my Japanese friends for a quick drink, but coming here with a group and smoking shisha together would be a more ideal choice for this bar. In the future I hope to come back with friends because as a beach girl, I really like this place’s atmosphere.
Address: 2-2-8 Higashi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Japan
Day Trip to Kobe
Before taking the shinkansen back to Tokyo, I decided to stop at Kobe to see some friends. First I went to the Harborland and took a nap under a palm tree in the bright sun, the I wandered over to Greenery for a fresh mermaid-themed smoothie bowl. The mermaid tail and shells look real, but they’re actually made out of white chocolate! I would recommend trying this place to everyone because they have the best smoothies in Kobe. Afterwards I wandered around Kobe Tower, which was sadly under construction, but there was some awesome graffiti art drawn by children that I really enjoyed. Though this was my third time to Kobe, I am happy that I was able to discover new things!
If you are interested in more in-depth activities that you can do in Kobe, please see my previous Kobe article.
Thank you for reading my latest three part article series on Nagoya, Kyoto, and Osaka! This was an amazing trip since I got to spend it with so many people that I love. At this moment I don’t have any further travel plans as I am going to Europe for a month in April, but I may decide to cover small events and cafes in Tokyo in the meantime.
I appreciate you all for reading and hope that I stumble upon more aesthetic food in my travels so I can write about it. Hope that everyone is having a fantastic new year, and thank you once again for supporting my writing.