Osaka Obsession - Your Love for Japan (and your tummies) Will Grow in "The Nation's Kitchen"

We recently spent 10 days in Japan, and figuring out what we were going to do (when there is SO much to see!) was a huge struggle for us. After much deliberation, we decided to spend 4 days in Tokyo and 5 days in Osaka. While this was the best trip EVER, and we crammed our days full, we've since realized we need to return to Japan soon - because there's so much we still have yet to do! During our journey, we fell in love with Tokyo, Osaka, and nearby Kyoto. Today we’re going to share a few reasons why Osaka is a perfect spot to have as a home base while you explore Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, and beyond.

Osaka is known as “The Nation’s Kitchen”, so food will be a big part of your time here. The name originally came from Osaka being the mecca for the rice trade and other produce. Eventually that reputation grew as tons of great restaurants and local delicacies are scattered throughout the city. Our favorite was Matsusaka beef at Matsuzakgyu Yakiniku M, Sushi at Ginza Kyubey, and green tea ice cream at the Osaka castle (a MUST!!). There is also an INCREDIBLE variety of street food, so walk everywhere to burn off some calories. A local favorite is Takoyaki (octopus ball), but it was a little too much for us. Bobby tried, but couldn’t handle it… which isn’t normal because he’s eaten some weird stuff.

Shinsaibashi-Dotonbori Area – A crazy part of Osaka where you’ll want to spend a good chunk of time. Shinsaibashi for shopping, and Dotonbori for eating. Shinsaibashi is an enclosed shopping mall, different from what we think of in the states. It is a large strip of shops spanning more than half-a-mile! Here you’ll find retail, luxury, boutiques, and street vendors. It is a great shopping area where you could spend a ton of money but also score some bargains. We were there over New Years, which is a bummer because many of the best stores were closed. I guess we have to go back? Nearby Dotonbori is essentially the capitol of the “Nation’s Kitchen”. Incredible food. Looking back on it, we realize we should’ve spent more time here eating, and probably walked more too. You’ll know you are entering the Dotonbori area when you see the iconic giant Glico Man (Glico makes Pocky!). Don’t bother with Pocky here, though. Explore street food, ramen, crab, takoyaki (we dare you), and blowfish (we also wimped out on this). Put your walking shoes on, don’t eat too much rice, and enjoy this sensory (and stomach) overload in Osaka.

Trains make day-trips easy – While there is plenty to do, see, and eat in Osaka, there are some incredible towns just a short train trip away from Osaka. We recommend getting the JR Rail Pass so you can hop on the Shinkansen train from Shin-Osaka Station to Kyoto Station in 15 minutes! We did this trip multiple times and most of the time didn’t even sit down. We just stood by the doors and watched the scenery during the quick trip. Kyoto is a beautiful city full of shrines, temples, and gardens, and is full of tradition including kabuki, geisha dancing, and picturesque onsens. Other day trips that we want to do during our next trip (we were obsessed with Kyoto and didn’t go anywhere else) would be Hiroshima (85 minutes via shinkansen), Kobe (14 minutes), and Nara (30 minutes). Aside from day-trips, we used our JR Rail Pass to get between Tokyo and Osaka as well! It’s so easy… can we please get some trains like this in CA!?!

So depending on how much you love food (we’re biased), we would recommend having Osaka as either a short stop (2-3 days) or as a hub as you explore this area of Japan. There is so much to see, and you’ll probably love it wherever you end up. Get your train pass, stretch your stomach, and embrace YOLO with all the cuisine and experiences you can have in Osaka!  

Traveling by Train in Japan: 5 Things to Know!

We recently went to Japan and were absolutely obsessed. We explored Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka over a 10-day period, and already planning our next trip back. While we were there, we made a point to splurge on hotels (the Japanese take service to the next level) and food (again, amazing). Because Japan is not the cheapest place to visit, we needed to find other areas to save money. After doing some research, train travel seemed to be the most cost-efficient way for us to get all around the country. Here are some tips we learned along the way!

1. Get a Rail Pass

If you are traveling around Japan in a relatively short amount of time, we would highly recommend getting the Japan Rail (JR) Pass. This pass must be purchased outside of Japan! If you are only visiting Tokyo or another major city, then the pass may not be for you. But if you are traveling across the country and visiting multiple places, get a pass. The best website (with the best prices) is www.japan-rail-pass.com, and you need to book early. Deciding on first or second class really just depends on your budget and preference. We were fine riding second class, and sometimes the rides were so fast/short that we would stand.


2. Be on Time

Japan’s train lines are extremely punctual, so you need to be on time. If a train is supposed to depart at 10:07, it will, so give yourself a little time. Many train stations have very efficient setups where they show you where to stand to wait in line. The line-up area often even labels at which point in the line the car will be full, so you can either beg somebody to give you their seat, or patiently wait for the following train. All that to say, if you need to be somewhere, just get to the station on time (early).


3. For Short Routes, Stand!

We stayed in Osaka and branched out from there, so we were often taking day trips to places like Kyoto. Understand that the Shinkansen bullet trains are FAST, and by the time you find a seat on a busy afternoon, you’ll probably be there. Osaka to Kyoto is 40 miles, and takes 15 minutes! If you’ve been walking a lot and want to rest your legs, fair enough, but we enjoyed beating the traffic getting off the train by standing right by the door on short journeys.

4. Bring Food! Bento Box!

Most trains will have food on board, but it will be way more expensive (and not as good). We would highly recommend that you get snacks on the street or in the station before you board the train. We are HUGE fans of Bento Boxes. Ekiben, aka Bento Boxes, are boxes of food that contain delicious Japanese cuisine. Our favorite is the Tonkatsu (deep-fried breaded pork cutlet) Bento Box! Get one (or two)!

5. Have a Wi-Fi device

For the longer trips, we recommend having a Wi-Fi device so you can get some work done, stream movies, or catch up on your Instagram. The views from the trains are spectacular, so don’t be glued to a screen the whole time. We were super thankful to have the Wi-Fi device so that Alli (and maybe Bobby) could catch up on the Bachelor. We were able to bundle our train passes with a pocket Wi-Fi device from Japan Experience. It was a lifesaver. Especially when we had to find out who Nick took on his hometown dates. 

Please go to Japan. It is incredible. And if you travel by train, hopefully this helps you navigate. Where have you traveled by train? Can you give us any tips? Happy travels!                                                                               

Why You Should Splurge on a Five-Star Hotel in Tokyo - Park Hyatt

If you have seen Lost in Translation, then you know the Park Hyatt Tokyo. While that movie hit the big screen nearly 14 years ago, we’re here to tell you that everything amazing you saw about the Park Hyatt in the movie is still just as jaw-dropping. We are going to share about 5 aspects of the hotel that you may remember from the movie, and will affirm why you should spend at least 2 nights at the Park Hyatt on your next stay in Tokyo.


First, lets talk 5-star service. Our friends Brad and Jenna (@formerlyyes) were in Japan shortly before we were, and they highly recommended that we spend the extra money for a 5-star, luxurious hotel experience in Japan. We are so glad we did. 5-star luxury in Japan in incredible. Upon arrival at the Park Hyatt, we were greeted by name and escorted to our room by the concierge. No need to stop at the lobby. The décor is grandiose, the service (both in-room and at the restaurants) is impeccable and swift, and everything feels very private and exclusive. You truly feel lucky to be there. While Bill Murray did not seem to grateful in the movie, we definitely did… and we’re confident you will too.

The room is incredible. An interesting touch was that instead of keycards, you get a literal key. We're not sure if for most it’s a hassle or nostalgic, but we liked it. The room is spacious, with top notch design, furnishings, and amenities. The bed is wonderful, which is probably why Bill spent so much time in his room. The highlight of the bathroom is the Aesop bath products, which are heavenly. The mini-bar, while a little pricey, is beautiful, stocked with an array of Japanese whiskies. Tea is complimentary and delicious!

The view needed it’s own section. Let the pictures do the talking. All rooms are in the top floors of Tokyo’s Park Tower, so ALL the rooms have views like this. It’s easy to sit here and get lost looking at the city buzzing below.

The pool, situated on the rooftop housed in a magnificent atrium, is where you should start your day. It’s a 20-meter pool with floor to ceiling windows looking over the city. There is also a fitness center in the same atrium with all the necessary equipment to get your pump on, assuming you don’t feel like swimming.

The bar, the New York Bar, is where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansen would often rendezvous in the movie. Like the movie, there are great cocktails, stunning views, and awesome live music. It has a classic cocktail bar vibe that makes it worth the trip even if you aren’t staying there.

All of these aspects of the hotel are just as in tact as they were 14 years ago. The hotel is timeless Japanese luxury. As we were nudged towards spending the extra money, so we urge you… budget in a way that makes the Park Hyatt Tokyo a possibility. And watch Lost in Translation. You’ll thank us for both recommendations later!

Japanese Food-venture!

Culture, Food, Style, Transportation… Japan blew our minds across the board. We decided we should probably show you some of the various meals we ate, because they were INSANE! From Ramen, to sushi, to GYOZA (our favorite!!), to Matsusaka beef, to Yakisoba… there’s too much. Enjoy the following photos of the vast variety of Japanese culinary delights! (And you should probably head to your local Japanese restaurant ASAP)

Look at this sushi at Ginza Kyubey! The best tuna we've ever had!

Bario Ramen in Toranomon. The BEST!

Amazing crepes in Harajuku!

Tonkatsu at Maisen in Shibuya

We don't recommend, but Bobby tried McDonald's... 

An assortment of Japanese candies... 

More sushi from Ginza Kyubey! 

Matsusaka beef at Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M

Green Tea ice cream and Osaka Castle

At Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M, you cook the beef yourself to your liking. So good!

Random local street food. There's an egg, and then we don't really know what the rest is...

Yummy tempura after a morning at the Kurama Onsen. 

Our favorite food (GYOZA) at Tiger Gyoza!

MUST HAVE: Bento Boxes on your train rides. This Tonkatsu was pretty awesome!

Homemade Japanese meal made by our friend Keiko during our Traveling Spoon experience. 

Pizza? In Japan? Yep. It was amazing!

GYOZA GYOZA GYOZA!!! Go to Chaochao Gyoza!

Welcome to Tokyo: Our First Days in Japan at the Park Hotel

Japan is insane. Let’s just start there. Over the years we’ve been blessed to travel to some pretty incredible locations. Every trip we take we come home saying “well that will be hard to beat!” and Japan was no different! The food, the culture, the art, the architecture, you name it… the Japanese do many things (let’s be real - pretty much everything) very, very well.


Our first stop in Japan was the Park Hotel in Tokyo. It is basically an art gallery hotel, as you will notice from the moment you enter the 10 floor high Atrium lobby. It is decorated with original wooden artwork, trees, flowers, and boasts massive floor to ceiling windows that gives you a jaw-dropping view of the city, Tokyo Tower, and Mt. Fuji. It’s pretty surreal.

Your room will take the art gallery feel to the next level, as many of the rooms feature amazing artwork. We stayed in an Artist Room King, which is a premium room where artists created the original artwork. Each room is different, and captures the artists’ particular passion. The artists spend months perfecting their room. (How cool is that?!) Ours was the Kabuki room, which had some incredible paintings both by our bed and in the bathroom.

The Park Hotel is situated in a business district, which is a short walk from the shopping Mecca of Ginza. Although you probably won’t spend too much time in your hotel while you are in Tokyo, the Park Hotel was a great home base that we loved coming back to for a mid-day nap. Note… we also really appreciated this hotel when it came to breakfast. There was an amazing spread of food each day, and we quickly learned that this is not the norm in Japan. Most restaurants nearby did not serve breakfast, or did not open until 10 or 11 am, so it is great to have a hotel that serves a hearty breakfast.

Once we filled up on our breakfast, we would start walking. The Park Hotel is near a train station, and has plenty of sights within walking distance, so you feel like you’re in a good spot. We loved the location, as it was close to popular sights, but a little quieter and off the beaten path. Aka not touristy AT ALL! While we were there we visited the Tokyo Tower, Ginza, the Shiodome area, found some great Ramen, and tried to get lost on small, bustling streets.

At the end of the day, we were so thankful to return to a wonderful staff at the Park Hotel that had our room ready, a spot with a view to drink a glass of wine, and an overall cozy atmosphere. Don’t forget that it is freezing in Tokyo in January… literally. (Bring layers, as most restaurants, shops and bars BLAST their heaters. You’ll be freezing to sweating hot in no time!)


If there’s anything you should know about us, it’s that we love staying in unique hotels. The Park Hotel Tokyo was the perfect blend of a traditional Japanese hotel (the Ryokan), and the 5 star hotels nearby. It is a solid 4 stars, everything is done very well, and it really doubles as an epic art gallery. (Plus the view from the rooms are hard to beat!!)

Side note: We recommend that you stay in Tokyo for at least 5 days. There’s so much to eat, see, and do – you’ll be overwhelmed if you have less time.


We’ll meet you there!