Excellent Hamburg and Steak in Osaka

Had some delicous steak in the Kitashinchi area of Osaka a while ago after I saw it introduced on a Japanese TV show. If you’re looking for an awesome lunch in Osaka check it out. You can walk to Kitashichi from Umeda station (closest to Nishi-Umeda) in about 15 or 20 minutes, but there is also a Kitashinchi train stop on the JR line.

We had to line up to get in at lunch time. Also, the TV spot featured their hamburg lunch, but when we sat down at 1pm we were told the hamburg had sold out at about 12:30pm that day. Apparently the TV spot caught them a little off guard and brought in a ton of new customers so they had been scrambling. We did however get to try the steak lunch and it was delicious.

The lunch course is very filling. You get the main dish, a mini curry, and a coffee or tea at the end. The shop allows smoking, but when we were there for lunch there were very few, if any, people smoking.

Go eat meat.

Shop Details:
ステーキハウス 風靡(ふうび)
Steak House Fuubi
Hamburg Lunch 1,575 yen
■ 住所:大阪市北区堂島1-3-11 スタックビルB1F
Address: Osaka-shi Kita-ku Dojima 1-3-11 Stack Building (sutakku biru) Basement Level 1
■ TEL:06-6348-9886
■ 営業時間:ランチ 12:00~13:30 ※平日のみ
Hours: Lunch – 12 pm to 1:30 pm *weekdays only
ディナー 17:00~21:30
Dinner 17:00 to 21:30
■ 定休日:日曜・祝日
Regular Holidays: Sunday and national holidays
Steak Lunch: 2,625 yen
Tender loin Steak: From 12,600 yen 
※ Dinner only

Umeda Sky Building

Looking for something touristy to do in Osaka? Consider a visit to the observation deck on Umeda Sky Building! The views are pretty spectacular, and it’s conveniently located near Umeda station. Admission is not too expensive either!

The Japanese name is 空中庭園 which means “sky garden,” but most people will understand if you say Sky Building as it is written in Katakana, like スカイビル (sukai biru).

You can walk to Umeda Sky Building from the Umeda Station Area. It is closest to Osaka JR station and it’s about a 10 minute walk from. Not far at all.

When I visited just a few days ago tickets for adults were 700 yen. There were slight discounts for certain groups, like senior citizens for example.

Once you get up there you can walk 360 around the deck. This is quite nice as you can take a wide variety of photos. There is no glass between you and the outside. For me this was a great thing, as it meant I could take glass free pictures!

Another great thing about the sky building complex is that it offers other entertainment beyond the Sky Building itself. The basement holds an eating area that is made up to look like Osaka did in the 50s and 60s. There are also some pretty fancy Japanese places that offer a view of an artificial waterfall. Finally, they also have a cheesy gift shop that could be handy if you’re still waffling about what travel souvineers to bring back home. The complex even houses an art movie theater. Good stuff!

That’s all for now! If you’re in Osaka and looking for a while to burn a few hours in Umeda, check out Umeda Sky Building. Good stuff.

Related Links:
Umeda Sky Building Wikipedia Page
Umeda Sky Building official site (空中庭園)

Burning Characters into the Mountains – Daimonji

I had the opportunity to witness Daimonji yesterday with some friends. We all met on a friend’s balcony in Sanjyo. Pretty spectacular view!

The wikipedia entry on Daimonji, officially called gozan no okuribito, does a better job of explaning the event than I could ever attempt. So read it.

At the most basic level daimonji is entertaining because there are five giant bonfires lit in the mountains… on a deeper level, it is an ancient ritual that marks the end of Obon, sending dead ancestors back to the spirit world.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a zoom lens on me, (actually I don’t own one…) so these photos were all taken with a 35mm. Still I was pretty close huh?

There are some better pictures on of Daimonji on Wikipedia here.

Had a ton of fun!

Daimonji 2012

  • Daimonji in Kyoto. Giant bonfires in the mountains to end Obon festival. More info here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gozan_no_Okuribi
  • Daimonji in Kyoto. Giant bonfires in the mountains to end Obon festival. More info here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gozan_no_Okuribi
  • Daimonji in Kyoto. Giant bonfires in the mountains to end Obon festival. More info here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gozan_no_Okuribi
  • Daimonji in Kyoto. Giant bonfires in the mountains to end Obon festival. More info here. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gozan_no_Okuribi

Tourism in Osaka – Doutonbori River Cruise

Ever wanted to take a 20-minute cruise down Doutonbori river in Osaka? I lived in Osaka for about 4 years and didn’t… but I tried it yesterday!

My parents are in town visiting so I was desperate to find easy touristy things for them to do. My mom would be happy just walking around a “mall” all day long, but that’s not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I know there are PLENTY of culturally interesting and much more exciting things to do in the Kansai area, but, I was with my folks, and they’re not into all of those things.

Anyway. You can catch the water cruise in a few different places in Osaka. We caught the boat at the stop right in front of Donkihoutei in Namba. The location is perfect. You can check out Kanidouraku, see Kuidaore, check out the Glico sign, eat some takoyaki, and then walk over Ebisubashi and walk down to the ferry.

The ferry has a few regular holidays, but it runs quite frequently so you don’t have to plan too far ahead. The price was very reasonable. The ride was about 20 minutes long.

You can get all the details on their official website, which is multi-lingual. Here is the English website for the Osaka sightseeing river cruise.

Our cruise had a mix of Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, and us, the Americans. The tour guide was an Osaka native, of course, and the tour was done entirely in Japanese. You can pick up pamphlets that are in English at the place where you buy tickets, but the explanations in the pamphlets do not come anywhere close to the detail that the guide provides. Having said that, the detail isn’t that amazing. They basically tell you about each bridge that you pass under, pointing out facts like more than 200,000 people cross over Ebisubashi in Namba every day, and that more than 4,000 Hanshin Tigers fans jumped off that bridge into the murky river after the team won the season. They also point out that the ferris wheel on donki houte is the first (and only?) oblong ferris wheel in the world! But, if you’re a long time reader you already know that I ALREADY KNEW THAT.

If you can, sit in the front of the boat. The back is covered so you can stay in the shade or out of the rain, but it severely limits your view, as you can see from my photographs!

Yodogawa Hanabi Taikai 2012

Summertime in Japan means festivals and fireworks displays!

I’m staying in Osaka now so I was able to check out Yodogawa Fireworks festival. There are also fireworks during Tenjin Festival, which I also went to, but locals all agree that Yodogawa Fireworks display is more spectacular on the fireworks front.

At Japanese fireworks events, usually called HANABI TAIKAI 花火大会 in Japanese, you can enjoy most of the same activities that you can see at a festival, but the fireworks are the main event. You’ll have stalls selling the usual Japanese festival food fair, and other stalls with mini-games that you can play for prizes. There will also be a insanely crowded area where people have claimed a place to watch the fireworks show!

Here are some photos I took during the Yodogawa Fireworks festival in early August. We watched the display from the Fukushima area.

I actually set up a tripod for some of these shots. My first outdoor tripod attempt actually. I have a long way to go.

If you are ever in Japan during the summer ask about “hanabi taikai” in your area. They are free to attend for the most part, tons of fun, and a very Japanese thing to do. The only thing you might spend money on is food, and if you want to be fancy you can purchase advance tickets to get seating in a special area. That’s it!

Good times for all.

Here is a video of last years show that I didn’t make.

Oh, and here’s one of this years!

Related Links:

Things to do in Tokyo: Kagurazaka

I had the opportunity to roam around Tokyo with Yuko (@guideyu and @guideyu_) from Guide-Yu.jp!

Even though I lived in the Yokohama/Tokyo area for more than a few years, I learned a lot during our day-long tour and saw a lot of neat areas of Tokyo that I had maybe passed through but never really thought about when I was living there.

One of the places that we visited was Kagurazaka 神楽坂.

Kagurazaka in Tokyo

I’m almost embarrassed to say that I wouldn’t even have been able to read 神楽坂 before this trip. Basically the name means, a hill where you can hear the kagura. The kagura is a song or dance used to celebrate the gods.

Kagurazaka is a very fancy neighborhood with many traditional Japanese restaurants called ryoutei 料亭. Usually ryoutei serve fancy Japanese food in courses with a limited menu. Another feature of ryoutei is that they often employee actual Geisha to entertain their guests. @guideyu was telling me that during one of her small-group tours of the area they actually saw some geisha on the move. What a treat!

Many of the ryoutei in this area follow a strict policy of not letting any first-time customers in without an advanced invitation from a someone who is already a regular customer. This practice is called 一見さんお断り (ichigensan okotowari), and literally means, refuse those who appear for the first time.

There are not many places in Japan that continue to practice this tradition of keeping newcommers out. On this Japanese question and answer site someone is asking what the purpose of this was. The highest rated answer explains that basically, the practice was used to avoid trouble. The service at ryotei is top notch. The food is also excellent, and the prices are also extremely expensive. In order to perserve the quality of the experience for all of the customers, the owners want to be sure that all of the customers are well-behaved people that they can trust. If someone who has been introduced by someone else causes trouble, the shop can follow up with the person who made the introduction to resolve things. Apparently these days there are more of these shops in Kyoto than anywhere else in Japan.

Even if you don’t have an invitation to dine at a ryoutei, Kagurazaka is still a great area to visit. You can enjoy the old-style cobbled roads called ishidatami (石畳 いしだたみ), the traditional Japanese wooden architecture, and like I mentioned you may also get lucky and spot a real Geisha. The streets are so narrow that you’ll feel like you have discovered some sort of secret exclusive part of Tokyo to explore all on your own.

Kagurazaka was a great area. We ate at a shop called Daikonya, which is just a usual restaurant that does not follow the ichigensan okotowari policy of turning away newcomers. It was tasty! True to their name, Daikonya specializes in dishes that use daikon — and the use it very well. We also ordered a sashimi plate that was quite impressive. I would recommend Daikonya to anyone looking to have a fancy dinner in Tokyo.

Enjoy the photos!

Related Links:
Kagurazaka Wikipedia page
Mochi and Anko: and other Japanese sweets. Guest post by @GuideYu
Daikonya – gurunavi
Japanese Ryotei, the art of service. NYT 1997
Traditional Ryotei are in Danger. Japan Inc
Tiny Ryotei entry in Wikipedia

Tenjin Matsuri 2012

I went to Tenjin Matsuri (天神祭) in Osaka again this year!
This year the festival was on July 24th and 25h. Every year the festival is held around Tenmabashi station area and events are centered around the river and Tenmangu Shrine.

I have been to Tenjin Matsuri in the past, multiple times in fact, but I can’t seem to find any past blog entries about it here on JapanNewbie. Maybe I never got around to blogging it!

Tenjin Matsuri is one of the “big three” festivals in Japan (日本三大祭り). The other two festivals in the big three are Gion Festival (祇園祭) in Kyoto, and Kanda Festival (神田祭) in Tokyo.

Tenjin Maturi 2012

  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Not all Japanese food is healthy.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Tenjin Matsuri is one of those festivals that ends in a fireworks display!
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. These boats filled with drumming and dancing are the main event at this festival.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. The river is lined with food stalls.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Catch live turtles with a hoop that has a thin sheet of paper in it. You can catch as many as you can until the paper breaks.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Cucumber on a stick! With salt! Delicous summer snack.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012. Various fruits covered in sugary goodness.
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012
  • Osaka Tenjin Matsuri 2012

There are lots of festivals in Japan. Lots. Most have a deep cultural history and have been practiced for centuries. According to the Japanese Wikipedia entry for Tenjin Matsuri, this festival started in the year 951 on June 1st.

Most festivals take place during the summer, so if you are ever going to be in Japan between June and August it would be in your best interest to try to figure out where the festivals are happening and try to attend a few.

Festivals are great. Here are some things that you will be able to experience at most Japanese festivals, beyond the cultural and historical aspects!

1. Festivals are a chance to wear your summer yukata and hit the town.

If you go to a festival you’ll be able to see the latest Yukata fashions for both men and women. These days it seems that a particular style of “sexy” yukata is popular among the ladies… Most adults hate it. Basically girls these days wear their yukatas in ways that they were not meant to be worn. Some have them draped off of both shoulders! Too sexy! I mean, I’m not complaining, but it is certainly not the traditional way to wear a summer yukata.

2. Festivals are an excuse to stay out relatively late and drink on the street.

The streets are usually blocked off for festivals and tons of food vendors are out selling their wares. Also, it’s legal to drink on the street in Japan, so you can grab a beer and go about your business. I believe that during some of the larger festivals the train schedules are adjusted in some cities to allow people to get home a little later than normal. Regardless, usually the festivals have some big event with a scheduled end time, and they stick to the schedule. Tenjin Matsuri had a fireworks display that ended promptly at 9pm.

3. A chance to try lots of delicious (yet not cheap) Japanese festival food!

I posted pictures of some of the festival food in that SmugMug gallery. As you can see, not all Japanese food is healthy. It’s a lot of fun though! Some of the typical festival snacks that I did not take photos of include yakisoba, okonomiyaki, also a festival dish called hashimaki, which is basically okonomiyaki wrapped around a pair of chopsticks. They also serve various forms of fruit and meat on a stick. Castela is also popular, which is a sort of bite-sized cake. Gotta love it.

Video Clip, Click to Play
Video Clip, Click to Play

So what are your favorite things about Japanese festivals? Got any favorites?

One festival I have never been to yet really need to try is Neputa Matsuri up north!

Looking forward to the next festival!

Related links:
The official Tenjin Matsuri webpage.
Tenjin Matsuri Japanese Wiki page.
Kishiwada Danjiri Mastsuri from 2007
Handa Matsuri from 2004
Hamamatsu Kite Festival from 2008

And more! Just search the blog for “matsuri” or “festival” and I’m sure more will come up!

By the way, I store all my photos and videos with SMUGMUG now. It’s really great. Unlimited storage. No limits on the size of the files that can be uploaded. Awesome privacy settings and whatnot. I can even embed the stuff into WordPress easily as you can see here. Anyway, if you try it sign up with my introduction link here and I’ll get $10 bucks credit towards my renewal. Yay!

Japanese Craft Beer in Osaka – QBrick

I have a sudden interest in Japanese craft beers. I’m no expert, but I like beer.

Japan has already made an international name for itself with Japanese whiskey, and now it seems that Japanese beer is also getting some attention.

One of my friends in Shanghai mentioned that Japanese craft beer is pretty amazing, and after I arrived in Osaka for this trip one of the first things I noticed was a Kansai Scene article about local craft beer and an upcoming beer festival.

I have a long list of places in Kansai that serve craft beer, but my first stop was QBrick!

QBrick has an amazing list of international beers, but they also have a selection of 8 to 10 local Japanese beers as well. The list of Japanese beers changes depending on what is in stock, so it’s fun to check back from time to time to see if anything new has been added to the menu.

I also went for lunch once and tried their excellent hamburg steak. The price was very reasonable as well!

QBrick is a short walk from the Yodoyabashi subway station. Highly recommended.

Go there!

Related Links:
Osaka Town Clip: QBrick

You can also follow me on Instragram. I’m “JapanNewbie” there too.


My Haphazard list of Kansai Craft Beer Bars

Osaka: Higobashi / Beer bar
Tosabori 1-1-30, Osaka River Building 1F. [on the N (river) side of the little road that runs alongside the river, between Higobashi (bridge) and Chikuzenbashi (bridge), 4 doors E of the latter] Open 5-midnight. Closed Sundays.


Address: Osaka-fu, Sakai-shi, Kita-ku Nakamozucho 2-71 B1F
Phone: 072-255-8317

大阪府大阪市中央区平野町4-6-12 京音ビル,1F
TEL: 06-6203-0690FAX: 06-6203-0690

大阪府大阪市中央区平野町4‐6‐12 京音ビル1F

1-22-12 Kitahorie, Nishi-ku
Osaka, Japan 550-0014 [ print map ]
(06) 6539-7550 
Near Yotsubashi and Nishiohashi

Standing bar 1020
天神橋5-6-23 (一松食品センター), 大阪市北区, 大阪府 530-0041, Japan
Hitotsumatsu Food Center, 5-6-23 Tenjinbashi, Kita-ku
Osaka, Japan

Kyoto has
Tadg’s Irish Bar and Restaurant
Beer Cafe Bakujun
Yamaoka Sakaten

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