Made a quick 38-hour trip to Osaka, hence the title… Clever, yes?
Despite two trips to neighboring Kyoto, this was my first time in Osaka. This city, considered Tokyo’s rival, is somewhat disappointing as both are very similar. If using the word similar is problematic for locals, I will say that I recognized in many of Osaka’s sights, a lot of Tokyo (or vice versa).
Either way, i enjoyed the very short trip and HATED the overnight bus we settled on taking. Overnight buses suck, we all know this, but when there is a price difference of hundreds of dollars and travel time getting to the airport or bullet train, you tend to make inconvenient decisions based solely on price. Taking a bus is fine if you’re on a budget or whatever else you may have, but i’m too tall and my legs fall asleep too easily to travel five hours or more on any bus (see also: cranky and old).
Our first day in Osaka went to Universal Studios Japan or USJ as the Japanese refer to it. Since it is October, Halloween was in full effect. IT WAS AMAZING! I love halloween stuff and was able to snag the USJ-exclusive (!!!) Hello Kitty Chucky collab doll and other souvenirs from the collection. Also, got to visit the Harry Potter area. I’ve never been to HP land in the states so this was really cool to see in person. I’m not a Harry Potter fan (i am a daniel radcliffe fan though <3) but the attention to detail in this is so great.
USJ itself, however, is a $$$ pit! I know i’ve just complained twice about how much shit costs, but USJ was RIDICULOUS. The 90$ fast passes included a ride that no longer had fast passes available! They even had 50$ fast passes for the halloween attractions. Did i mention the wait times for the most popular ride, Flying Dinosaur, never went below 3 hours? To top it off, we went on a Thursday thinking we’d be spared the crowd – Ha! While I can give a list of all the issues, I can also not say enough about how fun it was and how much detail was paid in the haunted mazes and their special halloween foods.
Apparently, Chucky isn’t very well-known in Japan, but they had a Chucky haunted maze that was cool and a special Chuky Churro (see below). There were also mazes for Nightmare on Elm Street, The Exorcist and Ringu (or “The Ring,” as it was released in the U.S.). They also had one for some other Japanese horror movie, Tatari, about shrine dolls, which has since become controversial for using dolls borrowed from an actual shrine.
Was USJ worth it? I think so. If i go back, i’ll definitely do it again for Halloween but be more prepared AND wear a costume like most everyone around me did (i missed the memo).
The rest of my time in Osaka was a pretty successful attempt to squeeze in the popular tourist areas of the city. We went to the Osakaju (castle) and checked out the view from the top. We had Kushiage (battered and deep fried meat and veggies on a stick) in Umeda and then walked and shopped Dotonbori, a Shibuya-esque area with a river running through it. Our last hours in the city were spent eating Osaka-style okonomiyaki and Gudetama-themed desserts near Osaka Station.
It was a nice, quick trip that went by much too fast. Like Kyoto, i think we knocked out the tourist stuff in the first go and also, like Kyoto, i think my second trip will be better since I will now be challenged to go beyond what the guidebooks recommend. I find those second go-arounds can be magic.