Read Part 1 of our Japan trip here.

Think Japan and you think manga, temples, gardens, food etc. all of which is great, but not quite what our kids would have enjoyed. During my research I realised that there are a fair number of animal experiences that I knew my kids would love. In fact, what sold me on Osaka was that Nara, where deer roam wild, is nearby. More on that later.

Our first evening in Osaka, I dragged everyone out to the Dotonbori Canal area. It was a bit of a trek, but I’m glad I did, because our remaining days were action packed and we ended up having one of most memorable meals in Dotonbori. It’s basically the Mongkok of Osaka, with street food, covered shopping areas and the odd shrine (in the one I saw and was too shy to take a photo of, the resident God was a stoned covered with moss and other greens, which was worshiped by pouring a bucket of water over it).

We went into a little beef place, because we wanted to try Kobe beef. In the end, we decided it was too expensive and plumped for the “top choice” beef. We grilled it ourselves and it was excellent.

The next day, we headed to Kaiyukan Aquarium. Attractions included sea lions, peguins, sharks, dolphins, jellyfish and of course loads of other fish.  The way it’s organised, you take a long escalator to the top and then work your way down. It was crowded when we got to the top, during otter feeding time, though the kids managed to squeeze their way through to get a good view. Later, however, the crowds thinned and one could see the animals at leisure, even sitting on benches to watch. I particularly loved the dolphins, the sheer speed and grace at which they swam. The kids loved the turtles. Another hit was the touch and feel area, where you could touch small sharks and sting-rays. We felt a bit sorry for the fish in the end, as they clearly didn’t want to be touched and the sting rays smartly positioned themselves just out of reach. My kids refused to move from this area for over half an hour.


One tip for anyone visiting, there are points at which kids can stamp a book. Mimi suddenly noticed this, and wanted her own and I was suprised she wasn’t given one. After promising to get her one, we realised we had to buy it. If I had to do over, I’d take my own booklet as the main thing is that the kids like to do the stamping. Lunch at the adjoining food court and an excellent ice-cream later and we headed back home for a rest.

In the evening, we headed to the Daimaru department store above Osaka station. This proved to be a bit of a mistake as after looking at some shoes with Mimi, she had a meltdown when I didn’t let her touch the expensive designer handbag. In the end, we headed back and had dinner at a small place near our apartment. I was quite stressed out by then, but people in the ordering queue behind me were very nice and helpful.