After four nights in Tokyo, we jumped on the Hikari Shinkansen and headed west to Osaka. If you’re living in a country where the train service isn’t exactly perfect and going long distances can be a pain - like Norway - I suggest you go to Japan and ride the Shinkansen to experience a super express service that just works. The trains depart and arrive on time, often down to the second, the cars are spacious with good leg room and there has yet to be a single fatal accident - which is more than can be said about European train services these days.

Osaka is, with its population of 2.5 million, Japan’s third largest city, and it has been the economic power house of the Kansai region for centuries. In the 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a daimyo of the Sengoku period, chose Osaka as the location for his castle, and the city may have become Japan’s capital if Tokugawa Ieyasu had not terminated the Toyotomi lineage after Hideyoshi’s death and moved his government to distant Tokyo.

The city seemed a lot quieter than Tokyo, with far less people roaming the streets. After having experienced the constant buzz of the capital, it was good to kick back and relax a little. But don’t get me wrong, as soon as the night fell, Osaka became yet another melting pot of people, sounds, lights - and even more crazy food stuff.

As we arrived in Osaka, the rain came.
As we arrived in Osaka, the rain came.

Bikes. Bikes everywhere.
Bikes. Bikes everywhere.

A quiet part of Amerikamuri, a good place to see the cutting edge of teenage fashion and culture in Japan. Also a good place if you want to shop for t-shirts.
A quiet part of Amerikamuri, a good place to see the cutting edge of teenage fashion and culture in Japan. Also a good place if you want to shop for t-shirts.

People dressed up and celebrated something. We never managed to figure out exactly what, but it might have been part of the Gion Matsuri festival.
People dressed up and celebrated something. We never managed to figure out exactly what, but it might have been part of the Gion Matsuri festival.

After the thrills of a busy Tokyo, it was great to sit down and relax with a quiet drink in Osaka.
After the thrills of a busy Tokyo, it was great to sit down and relax with a quiet drink in Osaka.

Dotonbori, with the famous Glico Running Man. The guide book called it a "Blade Runner moment", but I didn’t see a single flying car. What a scam.
Dotonbori, with the famous Glico Running Man. The guide book called it a "Blade Runner moment", but I didn’t see a single flying car. What a scam.

More from Dotonbori.
More from Dotonbori.

Even more from Dotonbori.
Even more from Dotonbori.

A small temple close to the Shinsaibashi shopping arcade.
A small temple close to the Shinsaibashi shopping arcade.

Outer walls of Osaka Castle.
Outer walls of Osaka Castle.

Osaka Castle.
Osaka Castle.

Samurai!
Samurai!

Gates to the Shitennoji Temple.
Gates to the Shitennoji Temple.

The Osaka subway, grope free weekdays from first train until 9:00 am.
The Osaka subway, grope free weekdays from first train until 9:00 am.

More rain in Osaka.
More rain in Osaka.

Osaka is famous for its cuisine, here represented by Takoyaki.
Osaka is famous for its cuisine, here represented by Takoyaki.

Takoyaki is grilled octopus in a flour and egg based goo. This octopus looks raw.
Takoyaki is grilled octopus in a flour and egg based goo. This octopus looks raw.

Try everything once!
Try everything once!

Okonomiyaki is a dish you can get across Japan, the Osaka style is shredded cabbage with various ingredients, like prawn, squid, meat or even more octopus.
Okonomiyaki is a dish you can get across Japan, the Osaka style is shredded cabbage with various ingredients, like prawn, squid, meat or even more octopus.

Plastic replicas of a restaurant’s dishes. Perfect if no one speaks English since you can just point.
Plastic replicas of a restaurant’s dishes. Perfect if no one speaks English since you can just point.

Japanese paper lanterns.
Japanese paper lanterns.

The Kani Doraku crab sign.
The Kani Doraku crab sign.

More from Dotonbori.
More from Dotonbori.

And another one from Dotonbori. It had just rained and this looked more like a Blade Runner moment to me than anything.
And another one from Dotonbori. It had just rained and this looked more like a Blade Runner moment to me than anything.