9. Osaka: Local Food Beyond Dotonbori Small Group Tour
Taste the big city, bright lights energy in the famous Dotonbori and Namba districts, then immerse yourself in local food and culture as you explore the areas where the locals play, and visitors almost never do. With dinner and drinks included and a group size of no more than six, it's going to be more like a night out with friends than one of those assembly line-style tours. All guides speak excellent or native English, have lived in Osaka forever or at least many years, and absolutely love the city.
Your evening starts in the heart of Dotonbori, right on Ebisu Bridge, best known as the perfect vantage point to see the "Running Man" gargantuan LCD sign, plus all the other giant signs and screens that wallpaper this area. Think Times Square in New York, with all the buzz but none of the cars. Pass all the big highlights, then duck into some narrow side streets steeped in history.
Hundreds upon hundreds of restaurants and bars line these streets. Along the stroll, you'll be provided with a painless cultural primer to help you better to understand the sense of place, allowing for a richer, more complete idea of what Osaka's all about. Osaka people are known for "kuidaore," which means eating to the point of your demise; along these lines, you can expect a teeming cavalcade of goodies passing your eyes and into your mouth at each of the three different tachinomi visited.
It is at these restaurants that people eat and drink while standing at bars or counters, similar to how tapas are often enjoyed in Spain. Look forward to being welcomed like a local first in Namba and later, after a short train ride, in Amagasaki. Technically not a part of Osaka but rather a separate city, Amagasaki has an industrial past and a vibrant food scene bursting at the seams with friendly, animated locals who honestly enjoy speaking with visitors and are thrilled to have you in their neighborhood.
Over the course of the evening, expect to enjoy Japanese treats like kushi katsu (fried food on sticks), nikomi (slow cooked meats in a miso sauce), some fish dishes, and a host of other items. There is no fixed menu, so the tour can be customized based on your needs and desires. And then there's the alcohol — taste great sake, shochu (a distilled wheat or sweet potato drink), and of course beer and other things.