Since there was a long weekend, me and a friend decided to go to Osaka to see the cherry blossoms (sakura)! Last semester, some students from Japan studied abroad at my home university and since they live in Osaka, I wanted to make sure to see them while I was there. I asked them what the best place to see sakura is, and they suggested Osaka Castle, so we made our plans around there and the surrounding area!
The first day, after taking the shinkansen from Nagoya to Osaka, my friend and I got some delicious food, and then stopped by the Nintendo store. After that, we went to the teamLab botanical garden, and that was incredibly cool. The music was so calming and it was just so nice sensory-wise with all the lights despite there being a lot of people. For the last event of the night, we went to the Dotonbori Area and saw the Glico Running Man/shopped around. We also got some really good Okonomiyaki (if you’re going to Osaka, you definitely need to get some) and Kushikatsu!
The next day, we got to meet up with my Japanese friends! We met at Osaka Castle and saw the sakura, then we went out to eat for dinner. After that, we went to the Hep Five Ferris Wheel- it was a little scary once we got to the top because they stopped it and then it shook a little bit, but it was super pretty up there. One of my friends left before the ferris wheel and we didn’t get to take a picture, so we video chatted while we were on there and took a screenshot of the call. It made me so happy because last semester we couldn’t really have conversations in Japanese, but I have gotten to the level where I could actually understand what they were talking about/asking and I could respond (even though sometimes I definitely had to use a translator app/look up words). It was a very sweet moment and it helped me realize how far I have come. It was so nice to see my progress and also they are all just so sweet and understanding. I learned so much from them just from one day of hanging out. Overall, it was just a very full circle moment and I’m so grateful I got to see them again - I didn’t realize just how much I missed them.
For the last day, we checked out of the hotel and then we went to Kema Sakuranomiya Park for some more sakura viewing. There were a lot less people there – I would say Osaka Castle was definitely the best place to see the sakura, but this was a lot better for photos since Osaka Castle was so packed when we went. There was also a ton of street food! I got the infamous 10 yen coin pancake. It was so good, oh my gosh. Plus, yakisoba, candied apples, and white chocolate covered bananas/strawberries! It was so bittersweet to leave after that, but I loved every second there.
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Hello! My name is Macks and I'm a sophomore at the University of Tennessee majoring in Child and Family Studies with a minor in Japanese. I love learning, hiking, reading, and playing the guitar/ukulele. Studying abroad is super important to me and I am so very excited to be able to share my journey with other people :)