Welcome to our travel blog. We are Tabitha and Nic. In 2011 we 'retired' in our early 40s and set off to travel the world. We spent our first year in South America and have been lucky enough to make two trips to Antarctica.

Our blog is a record of our travels, thoughts and experiences. It is not a guide book, but we do include some tips and information, so we hope that you may find it useful if you are planning to visit somewhere we have been. Or you may just find it interesting as a bit of armchair travel.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Osaka - Dotonbori - temples and okonomiyaki

Dotonburi, Osaka
One of our first trips in Osaka was to Dotonburi, a street renowned for its big - sometimes animated - models of thing a like crabs and puffer fish, that advertise its many eateries.

We checked out Hozenji-Kaisen dori, which is a narrow old lane with lots of small places to eat, but in the end, we decided on Dotonbori's President Chibo, which is well known for its Okonomiyaki. Judging by the queue of locals outside, it is very popular.

Dotonburi, Osaka
Okonomiyaki is often described as a Japanese omelette, but is not that simple. It does have eggs, but these are mixed with noodles, cabbage, and other ingredients, like meats or fish, to make something far more substantial. (Quick tip: if you are a non fish/seafood eater like me, make sure to avoid the orange/brown coloured papery stuff they put on top, as it is shavings of dried fish.)

We were a bit worried to see that our table had a hotplate in the centre, as we had visions of being handed the ingredients and having to make it ourselves, but in fact it did arrive fully prepared, and the hotplate was just to ensure it stayed perfectly hot all through.

And there is even added entertainment in the form of the flamboyant and artful way that the server squirts the sauces over the top. And it tasted good.


Having satisfied our hunger, we had a wander around the area, and found Hozenji-Yokocho dori, a little lane from the Edo period. At the end of the land is the little Hozenji Temple.

Dotonburi, Osaka
The main shrine here is to Fudo Myoo, who is said to grant wishes. His image is covered with moss, where people make their offering by splashing water onto him. Being ever polite, if a worshipper uses the last of the water, they will refill it from the nearby pump, in readiness for the next person.

Hozenji Temple, Osaka
At most shrines, you will see little strips of paper tied to rails or trees. These are o-mikuji, which are a method of fortune telling. You pay your money and pick out (or sometimes have dispensed) an o-mikuji. You unroll the paper to reveal your fortune.

Hozenji Temple,Osaka
If the fortune is bad, it will be tied to the tree, because the Japanese words for tree and to wait are the same, so the idea is that the bad luck with wait by the tree, rather than follow you. If the fortune is good, you can take it with you for luck, or still tie it to the tree to enhance the luck.

Dotonburi, Osaka
The other thing you see hanging at shrines are the ema, which usually are little wooden plaques that you write your wishes or prayers on, and leave in the assigned places. Increasingly, visitors are leaving these even if they are not making a prayer, as a kind of symbol that they were there.

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