Osaka, Japan Day One: Shinsaibashi & Ichiran Ramen

January 13, 2019

Back in October (after over a year of saving), I finally visited Japan with my boyfriend, Jesse and two of our friends, Charlie and Matt. We went for two weeks and it was such an incredible experience that I’ve been so eager to share. This blog series is long overdue; it’s been around three months since we came back but sometimes life takes over, I already feel like I need another holiday now.

As any trip begins, we had to get there first; we flew from Birmingham International Airport to Kansai International Airport with KLM Airlines, changing over in Amsterdam on the way. The journey was around 14 hours altogether with the change-over, the longest plane journey I’d ever been on. I’d definitely recommend KLM as an airline; the plane was as comfortable as it could be, the staff were all polite and helpful and although people famously slate aeroplane food, I genuinely really enjoyed all of the meals we were given throughout the flight.

KLM Aeroplane

Despite all of this, I’m a pretty anxious flyer and I’ve never been able to fall asleep on flights. This has never been a problem on previous flights as I’ve never gone that far, but this time the lack of sleep and the change in time zone got the better of me. We had left Birmingham at around 10 o’clock in the morning on Saturday 20th October and when we landed in Japan, it was around half 8 in the morning their time. We didn’t want to waste a whole day in Osaka just sleeping the day away so we decided to make the most of it. Our Airbnb host advised that we couldn’t check in until later on in the afternoon but very kindly let us drop all of our suitcases off at the house. This meant that we were free from baggage and could explore easily. I’ve written a whole separate post about each of our Airbnb houses, so if you’re interested in knowing more about where we stayed then follow this link.

We were all feeling pretty sleep deprived but we pushed on and decided to visit a local and popular shopping area, Shinsaibashi. This was only a short tube journey away which was great as I think we were all pretty done with travelling at this point. Shinsaibashi is Osaka’s main shopping area that houses a long stretch of different shops, mainly fashion-related but also featuring different themed shops, restaurants, boutiques and drugstores. It’s so easy to spend absolutely hours weaving in and out of each store as there’s so much to see, which is exactly what we spent our Sunday doing. Apparently, this is also what a lot of other people do as it was extremely busy but they had a Disney store so I was happy.

My favourite store that we went in was UNIQLO; I would say that this is basically the Japanese equivalent to Primark, it’s a lot more affordable and I ended up purchasing a Mickey Mouse jumper dress from there. I know that you can shop anywhere in the world but walking through Shinsaibashi was such a unique experience. So many stores had different employees outside advertising items of clothing or trying to entice people into their store. Every person walking through the shopping arcade seemed to have the most incredible sense of style, I immediately wanted all of their wardrobes.

Ichiran Ramen

After hours of walking until my little legs couldn’t do it anymore, we decided to stop off for some much needed food fuel. Charlie and Matt had visited Japan previously so they knew what the popular food chains were. Of course, being in Japan we really wanted to try a proper bowl of ramen so they suggested we go to an Ichiran. This was down a little side street just off from Shinsaibashi in an area called Dotonbori. Ichiran is a really popular food chain that specialises in tonkatsu (deep-fried pork) ramen and is the first place we visited that had ticket machines for ordering food. This is a common thing in Japan; you just choose what you want and pay for it prior to your meal, then you’re given a ticket and sit down at your table where your food is brought over. I really enjoyed this system as it saved any awkward language barriers in terms of ordering and paying prior to eating means that you don’t have to wait around to pay the bill once you’ve finished.

Ichiran Ramen

I’d had ramen at Japanese restaurants back in the UK but since trying authentic ramen in Japan, nothing will ever be as good in comparison. At Ichiran, you can completely customise your bowl of ramen to your preferences; for example, you can choose your preferred texture of noodles, the amount of spice in your broth and add extra items such as garlic, a boiled egg, extra pork and spring onions. I like things a little bit spicy so I loved being able to customise it to my liking. This bowl of ramen was the stuff of dreams quite honestly, I’d catch a flight back to Japan just to eat it all over again. The broth was so full of flavour, the pork melted in my mouth and everything tasted so fresh and flavoursome.

After some more walking around to pass the time until we could check into our Airbnb, we were more than ready for bed. We made our way back to the house and grabbed some snacks from a nearby convenience store on the way. Japan has so many peach and grape flavoured sweets, something we definitely lack in the UK but are two of my favourite flavours so I was in my element. I’m missing peach Fanta so much, honestly. After having a much needed shower and annihilating a pack of grape Mentos, I fell asleep on the sofa with my phone in my hand – I was clearly so knackered I didn’t even make it into bed before crashing.

Peach Fanta & Grape Mentos

So that concludes day one of my trip to Japan. I honestly didn’t realise just how much we crammed into each day, never mind the fact that I find it hard to cut things down.

Are there any Japanese foods you’ve ever wanted to try?

Day Two: Himeji Castle & Umeda Sky Building

15 comments so far.

15 responses to “Osaka, Japan Day One: Shinsaibashi & Ichiran Ramen”

  1. lifeofshar says:

    So happy to know that you liked KLM, we are flying with KLM and felt a bit nervous about it and the quality and ended up paying for extra leg room haha so I am hoping we will be okay. I am so excited to visit Dotonbori! As nice as the food looks, I am a veggie so I am hoping I will be able to find some veggie yet authentic Japanese food, I think it is going to be a struggle. Peach fanta sounds amazing. I can’t wait to read the rest of your Japan posts! xx

    • I personally couldn’t fault them! I’ll admit that I’d read some reviews beforehand and was a little bit worried, but I didn’t have any problems so I worried for no reason. Their in-flight film choices were fab as well! Japan has so so many veggie options, you’ll be spoilt for choice I promise you. Thanks for reading lovely x

      • lifeofshar says:

        I keep reading reviews and I’ve got to stop doing that!! Great to hear about the films because I don’t think I’ll be able to sleep either, I’m gonna to need some entertainment 😁 oh really!! That’s great I really hope I find some, Ive heard a lot about the ‘veggie’ options have fish stock in them😔 I really do need to stop reading bad reviews haha!! Xx

  2. I can’t wait to read the rest of this series!! Are you going to do every day!? Tbf this sounds like a bloody brilliant first day despite being so sleep deprived. Grape Mentos and peach Fanta sound sooo dreamy and right up my street, I’ve tried peach and grape Fantas from a retro sweet shop before which was amazing!! So damn sugary and sweet! I don’t think I could resist buying things in the shops too, especially as it’s a once in a lifetime sort of holiday! Honestly the broth in the dish makes me feel a bit weird but the way you’ve described how flavourful it was has made me really intrigued. I’ve never tried dish like that, even in the UK so I will have to force myself to sometime soon!
    Alice Xx

    • Yeah I think so! I was going to do per city originally but it just would have ended up ridiculously long, so I think I’ll do per day and then see how it goes. Some days in Tokyo were more chill than others so I might merge some of them, we’ll see! Grape Fanta is soooo good, it’s a shame they don’t do all of these flavours over here apart from in special stores. I did have a budget to some extent so I didn’t want to go too crazy but there’s SO much choice over there. I’ve been told you’re not meant to drink all of the broth as there’s oils and stuff so it’s super fattening but honestly, I couldn’t help myself as it just tasted too damn good. My excuse was that I was on holiday! Haha xx

  3. Ah day one sounds like a jam packed day! Also, that ramen looks soo good and now I’m craving Peach Fanta – how incredibly delicious does that sound?! I’m looking forward to reading more post’s on your trip to Japan 🙂 xo

    Char |

  4. I love grape everything – deffo agree we don’t have enough of it here! And I’d loooove to visit Japan one day, I’ve never tried ramen before, but think I’d love it based on what everyone else has said about it! And the shopping sounds amazing, definitely one of my fave things to do when I’m away – I love seeing how different it is to home! ❤️❤️

    • Grape is just amazing! It’s a shame it’s harder to come by in the UK, it’s honestly everywhere in Japan. Ahhh it’s so yummy, full of flavour and makes your belly feel all happy and full haha. It’s definitely interesting to see the differences! xx

  5. Geraldine says:

    Ahhh yay so exciting, I enjoyed reading this! So it took a bit over a year to save and you went for two weeks! 🤔 I’ve always wanted to go to Japan and stay for a minimum of two weeks but I never could figure out how much I should be saving, what with the plane tickets and lodging and all the things I want to buy! You guys are troopers for not collapsing right after the flight, and the ramen looks so good! We have an authentic (I think) Japanese ramen place about an hour away but I wonder how it compares to getting it from Japan? ! It looks amazing 🤤


    • Yeah I slowly saved bit by bit! If I’d really tried then I could’ve saved quicker but I worked with the time frame that I knew I had. It was definitely an expensive holiday though, mainly because of the flight prices but it was 110% worth it for the experiences I got to have. I still don’t know how I managed to get through that whole day haha, fueling up with ramen definitely helped though. Ooh that sounds good, we have a couple of places in Birmingham that do good ramen but it still doesn’t match up to the proper Japanese ramen we had – still super yummy though! It was really incredible there x

  6. Dude, I’m impressed. A 14 hour flight and you still had the energy to walk around and explore! A 9 hour flight to NYC took me out 😉 A Japanese food I want to try is blowfish! Ever since I heard about Sarah Michelle Geller trying it, it’s been on my list. It’s super dangerous to prepare but is a delicacy x

    • I honestly have no idea how I did it, I think it must have been mostly excitement to explore but I crashed hard when we got into the Airbnb haha. I’ve watched videos on YouTube before where they prepare blowfish, I’d definitely like to try it one day x

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