Fortunately, this was just my first morning waking up in the ‘Cabana Capsule Hotel and Spa’! An amazing nights sleep in my capsule, followed by a nice relaxing shower and dip in the onsen set me up nicely for a pretty jam packed day in Osaka. The sun was blazing and all the people who made Dotonbori Dori so unbearably busy the previous night were nowhere to be found (mostly because the shops weren’t open yet!). Perfect for getting some great photos.
I had quite an important appointment to make at around 4pm, and the next 2 days were going to be taken up by a trip to Kyoto and Universal Studios, so this was my only other free time in Osaka. This meant my itinerary for the day was going to be pretty tight, but after a quick walk around Dotonbori I began my stroll to Osaka-Jō-Kōen.
A beautiful park made even better by the beautiful weather, home to the incredible Osaka Castle. Built in the 16th century, the Castle sits right at the center of a huge park, surrounded by 2 moats and 2 huge walls. While it took a good half hour to walk there, it actually then took another half hour to weave my way around the park and into the main courtyard! My journey took me past huge statues of samurai warriors, under numerous torri gates and past several nearly bloomed sakura trees until I found myself in the courtyard infront of Osaka Castle.
The area was filled with food stands, street performers and some great photo ops, including a group of volunteers posing as samurai who let you dress up and grab a photo with the castle as the backdrop (see the awesome photo below!). The castle itself was a reasonable 500 yen to enter and once I’d climbed the 200 odd steps to the top (or queued 40 minutes for the lift!) I was presented with an amazing view of the city. The rest of the castle had been turned into a museum (where photos weren’t allowed unfortunately). Lots to learn about the City, the Castle and the different families that at one time occupied the grounds. All very fascinating, but after the history lesson I was starting to get hungry, so it was time to head to the HEP FIVE center the other side of the city to meet a lazy egg.
There’s a certain ‘Kitty’ character known all over the world, created by the Japanese character company Sanrio. As well as Hello Kitty they’ve also created many many other characters including one that’s having a pretty big surge in popularity right now- Gudetama. Roughly translated to ‘Lazy Egg’, he’s literally just that. Perpetually with a fed up look on his face, always complaining, unmotivated, he’s like the lazy egg in all of us! So swift is his rise to popularity that he has his own cartoon, tons of merchandise and now his own cafe… which just so happens to be in Osaka!
The Gudetama Cafe is on the 7th floor of the HEP FIVE building, a pretty large shopping, dining and entertainment complex. As with most character cafes, it’s incredibly popular, so when I arrived I had roughly a 30 minute wait ahead of me. To be fair, this wasn’t as bad as it could have been seeing as many cafes of this type get booked solid for months once they open. There’s something about the draw of unique menu items, goods and the fact that it’s all only available for a limited time that drives the Japanese people to lap this sort of thing up. To be honest, after eating here I can actually see why!
Everything on the menu is the absolute definition of kawaii, from the spaghetti carbonara topped with an egg with a face, to the mango crepe… also with a face. Everything looked and sounded amazing, but I went for the white curry- a spicy curry dish with rice and bacon… although that’s a far more boring description than it deserves, so take a look at the photos above or the video below to see gudetama with his bacon blanket!
So with severe feelings of guilt for eating something so amazingly cute (believe me, it was difficult sticking my fork in him!) my free time in Osaka was coming to an end. I was needed over at the Kyocera Dome for what I knew was going to be an absolute highlight of my trip…
And it was such a highlight that it deserves a blog post all of it’s own! So until then, here’s 3 hours of Gudetama for you to watch!