Welcome to Namba

Kon’nichiwa (Hello), Namba!

I stepped out of Namba Train Station into a melting pot of hustle, bustle, and cool breezy air. As a Pilot for AirAsia X, I frequent Osaka on night stops. Unfortunately, the crew hotel location renders trips to Namba a special treat, ones I take only when allowed the luxury of time.

Despite my love for travel and adventure, I’m a creature of habit. Each visit, I eat at the same restaurant, shop at the same retail shops, and stroll down the same avenue. Today, I resolve to challenge my comfort zone.

Oishii (Delicious)

I elect to dine at whichever restaurant catches my attention. This turns out to be a cozy and traditional looking ramen shop located off the main street. A large lantern with Japanese characters envelope the entrance, swaying with grace in the wind.

The menu is plastered on a large board next to the giant lantern. My eyes scamper through the characters, searching for English alphabets. I’m not disappointed.

The atmosphere in the restaurant is placid and calm. A counter table lines the kitchen area surrounded by stools. Space is not abundant, but there is wisdom in the seating- they only seat the customers they have the capacity to serve. Like in most ramen shops in Japan, I purchase a food ticket at the vending machine. Money through the slot, press choice button, ticket out. I opt for the soft- boiled egg noodles. The young wait staff collects my ticket stub and gestures for me to take a seat.

A kettle sits on the table next to a jug of cold ice water. In the mood for a warm beverage, I empty a sizeable amount from the stainless steel kettle into my cup and take in a gulp. Hey, that’s not water! A quick sip presents a savory taste; it’s soup! I flip the kettle around, and printed in bold black letters: after you finish eating Tsukemen, you can adjust to dilute the taste of the soup by adding a Dashi soup. Oh my!

Not long after, a bowl of steamy hot Ramen noodles is placed before me. I take in a spoonful of broth. A tinge of saline tang tickles my tongue; the taste of anchovies is hefty. The noodles are appropriately springy, and I expected nothing less. The soft-boiled egg is my favorite. A gentle bite pierces the white exterior, and orange liquid yolk burst out like heaven to my senses.

The Tombori River walk

Stomach full and satisfied, it’s time to resume my adventure. I make random turns and follow unfamiliar alleys. The weather is pleasant, the perfect day for the great outdoors. I notice that many locals cycle as a mode of transportation.

The random wandering takes me to the Dotonbori Canal. Rays of light from the setting sun is mesmerising, so I take a break to savour the allure.

I notice a walkway along the river. Upon further inquisition, I discover the Tombori river walk allows me a stroll along the waterfront with a view of over 30 restaurants and retail stores. I happily oblige the path. A yellow ferry seated with tourist stirs pass, smiles plastered across the occupants’ faces.

The walk takes me to the famed segment of the canal: the Running Man. Let it never be said that I visited Namba without a photo with the Running Man. So I whipped out my camera phone for a quick selfie.

I circle around the shops a couple of times, and came face to face with another running man! (In the form of a concrete statue)

Shinsaibashi

More roaming lands me at the Shinsaibashi- Suji Shopping Street. A variety of stores line the thoroughfare. From big brands like H&M and Uniqlo, to low key boutiques, and cafes, there’s something for everybody.

The Disney Store

As an avid Disney fan, I was delighted to stumble upon a Disney outlet store. These don’t exist in my home country of Malaysia, so I was excited explore. Disney merchandises line the shelves and hang off hooks. I indulge myself, shopping and admiring. The Beauty and the Beast soundtrack play in the background, adding a spring to the shoppers’ steps.

Osoi desu (it is late)

I’m so engross with the sights that time passed through attention. The glowing figures on my watch gave me a shock, although the streets still scream “the night is young”. Unfortunately, rest reckons. So, I head for the train station, my footslog apparent, drinking in the last of the city.

Oyasumi (goodnight), Namba.