Begin at the end. Life has a way of bringing us full circle. Of making us return to the point where we started. And for me – I ended up in Osaka after close to three years. I’ve been here twice before. The first time was for work. The second time was for personal reasons. I can’t say my memories here were particularly happy. I didn’t think I’d ever be back – but here I am. On a business trip no less.
It was my first time catching a bullet train from Shin-Yokohama Station. My initial plan was to depart from Tokyo Station, but it’s waaay more convenient from Yokohama. The station is small-ish and the JR, Subway and Shinkansen tracks are very close together. I’m not a fan of Tokyo Station and didn’t want to spend too much time walking around in that big monstrosity of a station. It can take more than 30 minutes to walk from one end to the other.
NO THANK YOU. Shin-Yokohama Station it is.
The shinkansen experience is an exquisite one. It’s so sleek and smooth that you don’t realise how fast it is. I was on a Nozomi 700. At 300 km/h (186 mph), it’s the fastest service running on the Tokaido/Sanyo line.
Unfortunately, I’ve spent so much time on trains in Japan that I’m unbelievably fed up and bored whenever I have to take one. Fortunately, this train comes with ample leg room. I know – I take too many photos of legroom. But it’s something I absolutely adore when I’m on the road. By the way, do you like my pink satin shoes?
I passed through Nagoya and Kyoto on the way to Osaka. Although I wasn’t in these cities for very long – the time I spent there was memorable – although admittedly, not in a good way.
The journey took around 2 hours and 20 minutes.
I had returned to the place where things began for me.
The First Meal: Okonomiyaki
Ask Japanese people what their favourite food is and most of them will tell you sushi. I get it. Good sushi is a treat. A delicacy. But for me – my favourite Japanese food will always be okonomiyaki. Hey – I’m a simple girl. There are two versions of okonomiyaki – Hiroshima style and Kansai style. I prefer the latter.
Okonomiyaki is a savoury pancake type thing which is made with cabbage, flour, eggs, nagaimo and your choice of toppings, ingredients and condiments. In some places, it’s DIY and in others the chef makes it for you. I don’t fancy the idea of cooking at a restaurant so I usually tell the chef to make it. Hey – it’s not my job to cook when I eat out.
The moment I arrived at Shin-Osaka Station, I was like a hunter on a mission. I only wanted okonomiyaki: the Osaka Soul Food that’s left its footprint on my heart. And I found it. In the basement of the mall that’s attached to Shin-Osaka Station.
YAY! HOORAY! YIPPIE!
I got a seat at the counter and boy was I tickled by the sight of all those okonomiyakis neatly assembled in a lineup. The chefs impressed me with their military-style organisation. One chef was cutting the cabbage. Another was preparing the okonomiyaki. Another was making the negiyaki: made with scallions instead of cabbage. And another was expertly tossing noodles to make yakisoba. If you love cooking like I do – open kitchens like this one are a HUGE treat.
When the meal finally arrived, my heart was on fire. I’ve had okonomiyaki since leaving Osaka, but it’s just on another level here. I also tried negiyaki for the first time. I approve.
I take that first bite. Nostalgia, joy and satisfaction wash over me. I am utterly delighted and so damn happy it’s unbelievable. I have no words
Dinner with colleagues
I’m heading out with my colleagues in a little bit. I have no idea where we’re going but I’m sure it’ll be fun. I’m not sure what the next few days in Osaka will bring. But I’m happy to be back.
Till next time.