Japanâs third largest city (second being Yokohama off Tokyo Bay), Osaka is a short bullet train hop from Kyoto. For train purposes, Shin-Osaka station works a bit like Chicago, one of the main meeting points for those heading west or east. Shin means new, the station itself is a bit out of town and so after arriving, and admiring a fancy new model train on a far platform, we quickly caught the train to the central Osaka station and the cityâs loop line.
Our first destination was lunch and perhaps unsurprisingly, we settled on trying this vaunted Osaka-style okonomiyaki at the first available opportunity. That opportunity came via the tunnels that undergird the area around the station. Nearby department stores and a range of subway stations all are accessible without crossing a single street. The tunnels were quite well lit with waterfalls and natural light in sections. That said, navigating them can be a bit of a challenge and the distances arenât trivial, so visitors would be well advised to keep an eye out for signs and to keep a map at hand.
Once we fed, we headed to the Osaka Housing and Living museum, which looks at what life was like at various point in the cityâs past. To get there we took the subwayâs Purple Line, which wouldnât particularly resemble the planned Maryland light rail line except in color, but that didnât stop us from taking a picture! For those readers that donât know, that particular transit line has been in the works for a generation and I put in my volunteer time trying to get us a system with some of the easy connections between various lines that cities like Osaka have. Itâs late enough, that Iâll put off the museum entry for tomorrow night, but if youâd like to know where the project stands Iâd recommend Robert McCartneyâs column in the Washington Post.