We took an overnight bus from Kokura to Osaka. Unlike Kokura, Osaka is definitively not a “small town in the country”, even by Japanese standards. It’s the centre of Japan’s second largest metropolis, the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area, with more than 19 million residents!
If you’re hoping to see traditional Japanese architecture, then Osaka is not the city for you. So much of the city was destroyed during the Second World War, and today, in a lot of ways, it looks very western. Yet it’s still Japan – an uber modern city with the sort of density that makes possible very efficient mass transit and lively urban spaces.
In Osaka they make great use of space. The city is full of walkable streets filled with stores and restaurants. There are commercial alleyways tucked in behind rail lines and arterial roads. There are even stores and restaurants underneath rail lines.
Our hostel was along one of these alleyways, just off a main road, right behind a major rail line. It had a beer vending machine (yep, that’s a thing in Japan), and an in-house nightlife guide named Mr. Yano. Mr. Yano is quite the character. He’s maybe 60….ish, but can party hard and out-drink any of the 20-somethings staying at the hostel.