I thought I was hallucinating. Was that really a giant hand holding a piece of sushi? Mike saw it too, so I must not have been imagining it.
Our hotel had sent us up to Dotombori to find some dinner, which was street about a 10 minutes walk away. The receptionist said there was a variety of food for us to choose from. Boy was she right. There were loads of restaurants and street vendors offering meat, fish, crab in every shape and form you can imagine, noodles, rice and blowfish. Apparently it was also a side show of visual entertainment.
The street was a mecca of people on a Sunday night, but not as crowded as a Saturday probably is. Couples rode down the car-free street on bikes. Girlfriends gathered on a bench looking at photos on their phones. Waiters from restaurants were standing outside with flyers trying to lore people in. They never tried that hard with us. I’m going to guess it was because they assumed we didn’t speak Japanese, not because we had a baby in tow.
As we strolled, we began to pick up on a few things I had not read about in our guidebook and Internet research.
- Unlike Europe, pictures on a restaurant menu do not mean it is a tourist trap with horrible food. Locals eat there and the pictures, or even plastic food displays in a lot of cases, are really helpful when you can’t read Japanese script.
- You can’t go wrong with okonomiyaki or octopus balls. Both can be found on the streets, are delicious and kid friendly. Dek gobbled down both, even though I wouldn’t touch the octopus. I draw the line at things with tentacles.
- There are convenience stores everywhere. This is very handy when your kid is screaming for milk. They also include a straw with your purchase for easy consumption.
- Japan does not waste any space. Side streets and alleys in the U.S. are often forgotten about. In Osaka, we wandered down many alleys that could not fit more than 2 or 3 people and were amazed by the number of restaurants and other businesses crammed into such a small space. They were impeccably kept and obviously frequented since they were still in business.