My Travel Bucket List: I want to eat in Osaka, Japan

NISHINOMIYA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 11: Yamato Maeda #0 of Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants bats during the friendly match between Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants at the Hanshin Koshien Stadium on November 11, 2014 in Nishinomiya, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
NISHINOMIYA, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 11: Yamato Maeda #0 of Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants bats during the friendly match between Hanshin Tigers and Yomiuri Giants at the Hanshin Koshien Stadium on November 11, 2014 in Nishinomiya, Japan. (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images) /

A big reason that I travel is to eat, and Osaka is a place to go eat big. There, eating comes across as a sport. To be more precise, it looks like a marathon where everyone just heads out and eats until they hit the line, and just can’t go any further.

As if traveling to Japan isn’t already an incredible experience, swinging by Osaka just seems like it would take everything over the top. All I want is to eat great food, maybe catch a baseball game and then lie down for a week or two.

Eating big in Osaka

Right off the bat, you know I’m going to Osaka to eat since I’ve made that pretty clear in the intro paragraphs. I know who I am and I know what I’m about. And what I want is to eat crazy amounts of great food chased down by excellent beer in neighborhoods like Dotonbori.

Dotonbori, OSAKA, JAPAN
OSAKA, JAPAN – APRIL 24: (EDITOR’S NOTE: Image was created as an Equirectangular Panorama. Import image into a panoramic player to create an interactive 360 degree view.) Brightly lit signs advertise businesses on April 23, 2016 in the Dotonbori district of Osaka, Japan. The lively streets running along the Dontonbori Canal, are among the most iconic and popular tourist destinations in Osaka, the second largest city in Japan. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images) /

Naturally, I’m going to end up eating sushi and sashimi. Some people might call that trite or touristy, but that doesn’t matter. Going anywhere in Japan without taking advantage of something so iconic makes literally no sense.

I also want to try out yakiniku and horumon, aka Japanese barbecue, while I’m in town. The preparation and flavors are reputedly quite distinct in Osaka, and one would have to imagine that they’d pair gosh darn well with that aforementioned beer.

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The big one for me is Takoyaki, ball shaped dumplings with slices of octopus in them. That’s about as classic a dish as you’re going to find in Osaka. That being said, leaving town without cramming at least one Okonomiyaki in my mouth with a few Kushikatsu would be a failure.

Hitting a baseball game

I’m not the type of person to sit down and watch a game of pretty much any sport on TV. It’s not that I don’t like sports but I enjoy the energy of a live crowd, and feel like something is lost in translation when I watch any game at home b y myself.

But when I travel, I love hitting any major league sports I can. I’ve watched NHL games in Edmonton, Alberta and Dallas, Texas. I’ve watched MLB games in Toronto, Ontario and San Diego, California. And I’ve been to a few NBA games in different cities.

All of that being said, I’ve always wanted to watch a baseball game in Japan. It might be considered the United States’ national pass time but by all accounts no country takes it more seriously than Japan, particularly in Osaka.

Going to see a Hanshin Tigers game has been on my sports travel bucket list for a long time. The fans are into the game, and the concessions are something to behold. Baseball and noodle bowls just seems like a superb combination to me.

Exploring the city

I’m not just going to town to eat food and watch baseball, though those are two great reasons to go anywhere. This is a city of slightly under 20 million people in the greater metropolitan area. As such, there is no shortage of things to do.

OSAKA, JAPAN, Sumiyoshi Shrine
OSAKA, JAPAN – JUNE 14: Japanese shrine priest attend a parde leading to the shring paddy field during the Otaue Shinji, sacred rice planting annual ceremony at paddy field of Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine June 14, 2013 in Osaka, Japan. The Otaue Shinji, sacred rice planting ceremony dates back about 1800 years, and is held annually on June 14 that sacred rice will harvest annually on October 17. Firstly, Shrine priests and performers gather in the shrine main hall for pray to success of ceremony. Then shrine priests handed over rice seed to women called an Ueme, planting women. Next, Planting women are carrying scared rice plants with performers to field by parade. (Photo by Buddhika Weerasinghe/Getty Images) /

As is often the case in major Japanese cities, there are a plethora of castles, shrines and museums to check out. In particular, I want to visit Sumiyoshi Shrine, a Shinto shrine that is reputedly more than 1,800 years old. The city I live in is just over a century old.

But there’s also some stunning examples of modern architecture around Osaka to take in, as well. Plus, I’m a sucker for a good aquarium, and Osaka Aquarium is apparently one of the biggest in the country with eight floors of exhibits to explore. And they have whale sharks!

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This is obviously just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things to do in Osaka. But just like any trip, I’m going to have to pick and choose what I do. Only this time, I’ll have to fit it all between between food comas and Hanshin Tigers games.