My name is Daeyeon Kim and I am working as a staff in the service development department of Potluck stay.
I am in early 30s and I went to Potluck stay in Osaka with my wife.
I don’t prefer visiting popular tourist attractions. I like to visit places where local people frequently visit to experience their daily lives.
While I was planning a summer trip, I was introduced with Yurie family in Osaka and that allowed us to experience a trip beyond our expectations.
Yurie is a middle aged women living in Osaka with kind and considerate mind for others.
Because of her outgoing personality, we were able to spend great time with her friends and family as she invited us to a dinner with them.
[Day 1] Arrive at Osaka airport (travel to Nara) – Nara park (travel to Kyoto) - Check in at reserved room in Kyoto – dinner (gyukatsu) – Osaka station tour – Spend the night in Kyoto
[Day 2] Kyoto tour (travel to Osaka – bus) - Nanba
[Day 3] Osaka castle – Osaka city museum – Ferris Wheel – soccer shop – Umeda JR station (First meeting with Yurie and her company) – Yukata festival – traditional drum contest of high school students – Tuna restaurant (With Yurie’s friends) - Shopping at franc-franc – Visit claw machine shop
[Day 4] Nanba – Shinsaibashi (Meet up with Yurie) – (Minami’s work place) Fancy shop – Shinsaibashi street tour – Shopping at Don Quijote
[Day 5] Return to Korea
In the summer of 2016, Seoul city was having the record high hot weather.
we just wanted to get out of Seoul. We were thinking about going to either Japan (Okinawa, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Osaka, etc.), Guam, or Saipan.
While trying to make a decision, we were introduced with Yurie and my summer vacation location was quickly turned to Osaka.
<Promise with Yurie. By using Line translation, fluent communication between Korean and Japanese is possible>
After setting up the date and location to meet up with Yurie, it’s finally the day of departure.
In the airplane seat waiting for take-off.
It was not an uncommon trip since Japan is a close country but since we were going to meet new foreign friends, we felt more excited than usual.
Osaka is in sight outside of airplane window.
We arrived to Osaka and headed to the first destination, Nara.
We arrived to Nara by subway and walked to Nara park.
<The way to Nara park>
Kansai region (a region containing Nara, Kyoto, Osaka) was very hot too.
Guess the record high heat was not the only case in Seoul.
‘While thinking ‘Should we have chosen Okinawa with refreshing ocean?’ as walking, we met these lovely animals.
Nara park’s mascots. Deer!
While trying to not to step on the deer poops, we stepped closer to them and touched their horns
We can easily see deer in the zoos in Korea but it was very interesting to see them in the middle of people.
As we walked towards inside of the park, we bought some senbei (grilled pancake snacks) to feed deer.
As we turned around with a bag of senbei,
We were surrounded by a group of deer.
And they tried to take senbei from her.
I took the bag of senbei from her and ran away and they chased me.
We moved to suitable location to feed senbei.
Leaving deer behind, we moved to Kyoto.
We took subway to travel to Kyoto station.
Today’s accommodation is a guest house near Kyoto station.
It is bit pricey considering it is a guest house but it is very clean.
For this trip we only used guest houses and Airbnb.
We were connected with Yurie after we made reservations for accommodation so we were unable to stay in Yurie’s house so that was bit disappointing.
After unpacking bags at the room, we went out for dinner. I am a tonkatsu mania but I really wanted to try gyukatsu.
Gyukatsu is basically fried wagyu.
Strictly speaking, it is gyukatsu, not tonkatsu.
The soft texture of wagyu is very different from chewy texture of tonkatsu.
It’s beyond words to explain such taste.
We spent long time to find information of this place (we found this place after hours of surfing in Japanese websites).
It would’ve been so much easier if we had a local friend in Kyoto.
After satisfying dinner, we went out to see buildings around Kyoto station.
A train platform and department store are placed left and right in Kyoto station separated by outdoor stairs.
In the middle of the stairs there is an outdoor stage and on the roof there is a garden.
There was an orchestra concert in the outdoor stage so we stopped by briefly to listen to the concert and we went up to the roof garden to see Kyoto tower.
On the next day, we visited famous tourist attractions in Kyoto. We visited Kiyomizudera temple and took a picture.
After Kyoto tour, we moved to Osaka.
We visited Osaka’s famous tourist attractions such as Osaka castle, Osaka museum of history, and Nanba street. Then, we moved to Umeda station to meet up with Yurie.
Before meeting up with Yurie, we went to a soccer shop!
Actually, I have been playing soccer in a soccer club for at least 15 years and I have more than 10 pairs of soccer boots. Basically, I am a soccer otaku (mania)
In Japan there are stores that have all kinds of soccer goods from numerous different brands.
This store is one of them.
The size of the store was so huge that I could be called a department store.
Soccer boots from various brands
The range of boots from Asics and Mizuno is much broader than Korean stores.
But, the prices are cheaper in Korean internet shopping malls.
Puma Japan’s representative model Para Mexico which is only manufactured/distributed in Japan.
It’s the famous model worn by Diego Maradona of Argentina national team, who won 86 Mexico World Cup.
Since then, it’s been only manufactured in Japan.
In this store, there are self-order systems that allow customers to customize leather color and stud.
It was quite unusual to see customers placing orders online on the laptops in the store.
On the stairs connecting each floor, boots that were actually worn by famous professional players are displayed.
This is Japanese free kick master Honda Keisuke’s boots.
(Below are boots of Dortmund’s Kagawa Shinji and Mainz’s Muto Yoshinori)
The pieces of grass on the stud shows the scene of intense soccer matches.
(Recently Honda is having a tough time in AC Milan. I hope he would get in form soon)
We finally met Yurie.
Yurie is an outgoing middle-aged women and her husband and friends came with her.
The name of her friend is Yasuo.
My wife, Yurie, and Yasuo quickly became familiar as sisters.
That day, there was Yukata festival around Umeda station.
Anyone wearing Yukata can receive discounts in stores around Umeda station and many performances and events took place.
We enjoyed Yukata festival and went to dinner together.
Participants of Yukata competition are showing off their styles.
The most stylish participant is receiving the award.
Yukata looks simple to it takes quite amount of time to properly wear it.
In that way, it is similar to Korean Hanbok.
Leaving Yukata competition behind, we headed to traditional drum competition.
While walking we drank take out draft beer (Namabiru) together
The traditional drum competition takes place in outdoor stage and fortunately, the rain which started to fall down since morning stopped.
The participating teams of the competition seem quite young.
I asked to Yurie and she told me that they are middle/high school students in Osaka.
There are drum clubs in each school so students participate in festivals like this.
The stage is decorated with the rising sun flag pattern (red pattern in white background)
To add one thing, we frequently saw the rising sun pattern while traveling around in Japan.
It seems like the rising sun pattern, not the flag, is used without any special meaning.
But since I am Korean, it felt bit uncomfortable every time I saw such pattern.
Clear thing is, it is not reasonable to regard anyone who uses rising sun pattern as an imperialist.
It seems like people are using such pattern for traditional Japanese style decoration.
Back to the trip, the participating teams showed high quality performance above my expectation.
Their teamwork, rhythm, and percussion sound had very high quality.
It seemed like the participating students had been practicing for the festival for quite long time.
I smiled quietly as I saw the students showing sense of achievement after performance,
After traditional drum performance, we decided to have a dinner with Yurie family.
Yurie asked me if there is a special menu we want to eat
So we said loudly “Maguro! It’s Maguro” (Maguro=Tuna)
I like tuna sashimi and Osaka is the most famous city for tuna even in Japan so I had to try tuna in Osaka.
Yurie said there is a tuna restaurant she frequently visits near Umeda station so we all headed to the restaurant together.
The only foreigners in the restaurant were us.
Which means the restaurant is popular among locals, not tourists.
It was bit unusual because the Japanese tuna restaurant had very diverse menu composition.
In Korea, customers can only order course menu which is composed of sashimi of different tuna parts and tsukidashi.
On the other hand, in Japan customers order individual menu and each menu had excellent quality.
I was able to taste various dished made by tuna.
From tuna rolls and fried tuna to grilled tuna, I was able to taste various tuna dishes that I didn’t even see in Korea
(couldn’t take many picture because I was so focused on eating)
The price was relatively cheap too.
Relative to tuna restaurants in Nanba where many tourists visit, it was very cost effective.
I realized why there is such term of ‘tourist price’.
Visiting local restaurant with Potluck stay friends has such advantage
(experience local food at local quality).
Yurie’s husband Junji suggested a drink so we ordered it.
He suggested that cool sake is the best choice for tuna dishes.
They told me it is very popular among young females in Japan. It was a cool sake with flower and fruit smell.
Delicious tuna and cool sake in hot weather.
We continuously said “oishi! Oishi!” (delicious) to Junji.
Then Junji answered “Osaka no maguro ga number one des!” (Osaka’s tuna is number one!)
We were able to feel Osaka’s pride in tuna.
As we were enjoying the tuna,
Yurie’s friends arrived to the next table.
Yurie asked us if they can join us and we said yes gladly.
(Even though we couldn’t communicate fluently, we wanted to have cultural exchange with as many people as possible)
The person in the middle is about the same age as my father.
Compared to his age, he had relatively open mind and preferences.
We talked about Korean and Japanese cultures, especially movies and dramas.
Even though we couldn’t speak each other’s language (Korean/Japanese), we had such a great time.
We communicated through short English, Japanese words, and body language.
For complicated descriptions we used translation app (google translation).
Again, we felt that language is not a barrier under open mind.
Among the popular shopping brands for Korean tourists, there is a household brand called franc-franc.
(I did not know but seems like it’s very popular among the Korean communities of married women)
My wife planned to buy rabbit-shaped rice paddles for her friends.
But, It was difficult to find the exact location of the franc-franc store
During the dinner, we told such story to Yurie and she said she knows where it is so she can take us to there.
Thanks to her help, we were able to get to franc-franc without getting lost.
Fortunately, we found and bought the rabbit-shaped rice paddles !
At franc-franc, Yurie bought us a surprising gift.
We were so impressed by her unexpected gift.
After such happy day, we came back to the room.
<A railroad crossing of Shin Imamiya station where our Airbnb room was located around>
On the next day, we headed to the biggest down town of Osaka, Nanba.
We took photos at the photo spots and visited countless shops that I can’t even remember them all.
After shopping and food tour, we met up with Yurie and her company.
That was not on our plan but we really wanted to meet Yurie family again so we promised to meet again today.
We met Yurie at Shinsaibashi station.
Among her company we met yesterday, Yurie’s daughter Minami works at a large fancy store so we decided to visit her store.
In the fancy store, not only stationery but also interior goods were sold so we looked the store till Minami’s work hour is over.
Then, together we walked on Shinsaibashi street and spent great time shopping.
We were able to save a lot of time as Minami helped us to communicate with sales clerks in each store.
And again, we received a surprising gift………..
Traditional Japanese cookie.
Thanks to that, we didn’t have to worry about late night snacks for the last night in Japan.
It was a simple gift but we were able to feel Yurie family’s warm heart.
<Large market ‘Don Quijote near Shin Imamiya station where our Airbnb room is located around>
In the early morning we headed to the airport.
As we boarded onto the airplane to Incheon, we had the feeling that we are going to come to this place often.
Maybe it’s because we now have real friends in Osaka
We promised Yurie family to meet them again some time in November in Korea.
We are going to take them to various restaurants in Bundang, where my family lives.
We are also going to suggest bungee jump at Yuldong park.
We are really looking forward to see Yurie family again in November.