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Jaunted Embedded Travel Guides: Osaka In 60 Seconds

Where: Osaka, Japan
October 5, 2007 at 12:15 PM | by | Comment (1)


Jaunted's embed AJ McGuire just got back from Osaka, and he has some final thoughts on traveling Japan.

Back home now in a jet-lag haze, I'm trying to distill a place that takes up so much of my heart into a few quick hits of information. This video should give a brief taste of how it feels. And here are a few end notes on experiencing Osaka yourself.

· What separates a tourist from a traveler is contact with the locals. Learn a bit of the language and talk to people. Don't stay in your bubble snapping pictures. Osaka has more characters per capita than most cities and is a hell of a lot more welcoming than its straight-laced cousin Tokyo.

· Eat everything. Buck up and slurp down a tentacle. Sure, there's some kind of fish in everything, but one of those bites is going to be the best you've had in your life.

· Relax like the locals. Take a hike through the mountains. Lose a few hundred yen at an old school Smartball joint in Shin Sekei. Hit an onsen (natural hot spring) and soak yourself with a dozen naked strangers.

· Osaka is much more than a list of sights to hit. I still have never been to the Sky Tower or Ebisu Plaza or the six hour puppet show that is Bunraku. Just never got around to it. Pace yourself with the sightseeing and just relax in the izakayas. See the city, not the sights.

Go straight to our Osaka Embed Map.

Related Stories:
· Embedded Travel Guides coverage [Jaunted]
· Osaka Travel coverage [Jaunted]
· Osaka Hotels [HotelChatter]

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Jaunted Embedded Travel Guides: Osaka After Dark

Where: Osaka, Japan
October 4, 2007 at 1:00 PM | by | Comments (0)

Embedded Travel Guides: We are searching the world for folks who can take you on a field trip of their "backyard." When we find these folks, we then stealthy embed them into their local travel scene and ask them to be our eyes and ears out in the field.

We are expecting the same sort of grainy video, choppy sentences and snapshot photos that you are use to seeing from other sorts of embeds. At the end of the day we should be left with a backyard travel guidebook like no other.

Our man in Osaka is AJ McGuire, and, wow, does he have stories to tell.

Nightlife in Osaka will teach you what your Learn Japanese in 24 Hours tape couldn't. While there are enough foreigner bars to stay in an English-language bubble and still have a decent Saturday night (some of my friends have been doing this for years), it's a far better thing to let the drink drop those inhibitions and push you to trot out some phrasebook communication. You won't regret it.

A good starter while you're still lucid and timid is the cozy Gorkha Bazar, a Nepalese bar and grill that serves as a hangout for the multilingual and a more diverse crowd of gaijin than the usual crop of English teachers. Barman Diwarker Thapa speaks four languages, and the happy hour plate is the best value in town for pre-booze munchies. And it's convenient to the Tani-9 zone of love hotels so Gorkha might be your last stop of the night, too.

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Jaunted Embedded Travel Guides: Osaka Loves Festivals

Where: Osaka, Japan
October 3, 2007 at 1:00 PM | by | Comments (0)

Embedded Travel Guides: We are searching the world for folks who can take you on a field trip of their "backyard." When we find these folks, we then stealthy embed them into their local travel scene and ask them to be our eyes and ears out in the field.

We are expecting the same sort of grainy video, choppy sentences and snapshot photos that you are use to seeing from other sorts of embeds. At the end of the day we should be left with a backyard travel guidebook like no other.

Our man in Osaka is AJ McGuire, and, wow, does he have stories to tell.

With all the boozing that goes on, it's surprising that the average Osakan can remember what happened last night, let alone a few hundred years ago. But remember they do. The Osaka area has deep roots and recalls its rich history with literally hundreds of local festivals of all sizes and levels of revelry.

No matter what time of year it is, there's a festival going on somewhere in Kansai. An hour on the train and you can get your fix of seasonal festival fare (fried chicken or squid in the summer, doughy red bean-filled mochi in the winter) and max out your camera's memory card with parades, dances, decorations and offerings of incense, prayers, rice, sake and other choice treats. The sum effect is an opportunity for the community to come together, and whenever that happens, of course, there's always a bit of a party.

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Jaunted Embedded Travel Guides: Getting Out of Osaka

Where: Osaka, Japan
September 28, 2007 at 3:00 PM | by | Comment (1)

Embedded Travel Guides: We are searching the world for folks who can take you on a field trip of their "backyard." When we find these folks, we then stealthy embed them into their local travel scene and ask them to be our eyes and ears out in the field.

We are expecting the same sort of grainy video, choppy sentences and snapshot photos that you are use to seeing from other sorts of embeds. At the end of the day we should be left with a backyard travel guidebook like no other.

Our man in Osaka is AJ McGuire, and, wow, does he have stories to tell.

I dig a mob scene as much as the next guy, probably more. Having spent a good chunk of my upbringing out in the woods and in the decidedly roomy American suburbs, there's a certain surreal element to being wrapped up in an absolutely ludicrous number of bodies. You know, like you find on any Osaka street.

However, there comes a time--usually the morning after a particularly savage assault on the liver--when the energy of that buzzing crowd becomes intolerable, and I've got to get the hell away from people. It's not an easy task on such a densely populated island, but it can be done.

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Jaunted Embedded Travel Guides: Osaka Can't Stop Shopping

Where: Osaka, Japan
September 27, 2007 at 4:50 PM | by | Comments (0)

Embedded Travel Guides: We are searching the world for folks who can take you on a field trip of their "backyard." When we find these folks, we then stealthy embed them into their local travel scene and ask them to be our eyes and ears out in the field.

We are expecting the same sort of grainy video, choppy sentences and snapshot photos that you are use to seeing from other sorts of embeds. At the end of the day we should be left with a backyard travel guidebook like no other.

Our man in Osaka is AJ McGuire, and, wow, does he have stories to tell.

I hate to traffic in stereotypes but it doesn't take much hanging around to figure out that the Japanese are pretty gung-ho Born to Shop. Name an object, and you can get the Louis Vuitton version somewhere in Osaka, customized, off the rack or knock off. Just like you can't go ten feet in this town without someone offering you some kind of prepared squid, there is literally nowhere without shopping.

Now I'm the kind of guy who wears the same dumb pair of jeans every day of the year so all this means very little to me. However, all trips involve the inevitable phase of collecting souvenirs to placate those you ditched back home for your trip. For them, I've picked out the three best ways to dump your tourist dollars into the Japanese economy.

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Jaunted Embedded Travel Guides: Temple Fatigue

Where: Osaka, Japan
September 26, 2007 at 2:00 PM | by | Comments (0)

Embedded Travel Guides: We are searching the world for folks who can take you on a field trip of their "backyard." When we find these folks, we then stealthy embed them into their local travel scene and ask them to be our eyes and ears out in the field.

We are expecting the same sort of grainy video, choppy sentences and snapshot photos that you are use to seeing from other sorts of embeds. At the end of the day we should be left with a backyard travel guidebook like no other.

Our man in Osaka is AJ McGuire, and, wow, does he have stories to tell.

"If I have to see one more safety-orange painted torii gate..." I hear that muttered pretty often, always after one of my friends has finished playing tour guide to parents, family friends or whoever else comes blowing into town with a list of Must See's that reads like a religious pilgrimage.

Sure, descriptions of things more than two hundred years old are often the only accurate things in the average guidebook. (Don't believe me? Hit the bookstore and check out the restaurant recommendations for your hometown.) The area around Osaka has its share of great sights to see. But, and let me put this in bold because its important, there are better ways to spend your vacation than hunting down every temple, shrine or battlefield in your guidebook.

Still, you should get some culture: Here's how to do it right.

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Jaunted Embedded Travel Guides: Eat Something In Osaka

Where: Osaka, Japan
September 25, 2007 at 2:05 PM | by | Comment (1)

Embedded Travel Guides: We are searching the world for folks who can take you on a field trip of their "backyard." When we find these folks, we then stealthy embed them into their local travel scene and ask them to be our eyes and ears out in the field.

We are expecting the same sort of grainy video, choppy sentences and snapshot photos that you are use to seeing from other sorts of embeds. At the end of the day we should be left with a backyard travel guidebook like no other.

Our man in Osaka is AJ McGuire, and, wow, does he have stories to tell.

With more restaurants per capita than any other city on Earth, Osaka is the place for some serious culinary adventuring. From big buck traditional Japanese courses to fast and tasty street fare to pockets of international cuisine, it's hard to stay hungry in this city, no matter what your appetite.

King of the local cuisine is the humble takoyaki, a piping hot octopus dumpling. While the tourists flock to the more famous street stalls along the Dotombori--both a river and a street but mostly a savage assault on the senses--the chance to pack away a dozen or so in the Namba district cannot be missed.

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Jaunted Embedded Travel Guides: Osaka 101

Where: Osaka, Japan
September 24, 2007 at 2:35 PM | by | Comment (1)

Embedded Travel Guides: We are searching the world for folks who can take you on a field trip of their "backyard." When we find these folks, we then stealthy embed them into their local travel scene and ask them to be our eyes and ears out in the field.

We are expecting the same sort of grainy video, choppy sentences and snapshot photos that you are use to seeing from other sorts of embeds. At the end of the day we should be left with a backyard travel guidebook like no other.

Our man in Osaka is AJ McGuire, and, wow, does he have stories to tell.

In Osaka I have less trouble explaining myself to the locals in my infant's Japanese than I do explaining my doings to the folks back home. Case in point: last night started over Mexican beer at a bar that incorporates mustachioed dwarves as load bearing structures with the ambiance provided by a VHS of Whitney Houston music videos. Later I was throwing darts, talking about microbrewing and spotted the local street crazy known as The Least Convincing Transvestite Ever.

School kids ran by the bar window with longbows double their height, weaving through crowds of host boys in their suits, chains and elaborate hairstyles that evoke classic Axl Rose after an industrial grade shampoo and blow dry. After that, things got a little blurry.

Go straight to the Osaka Embed Map.

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