Japan Australia Pages

Sunday, January 19, 2020

5 Food You Have to Try While in Osaka

Osaka Castle
It wouldn't be wrong to call Osaka the food capital of Japan, and the people take great pride in their local cuisine. There’s a popular saying ‘Osaka no kuidaore’ which literally means people in Osaka have the habit of eating themselves out of house and home. While there are several local specialties in Osaka worth experiencing, we will talk about the 5 food you have to try while in Osaka.

1. Takoyaki 

This is the classic Osaka dish made with simple ingredients but scores high in terms of taste. It typically involves a mixture of eggs and flour stuffed with sliced octopus, spring onions, ginger, and tempura crumbs. The dumplings are topped with a sweet sauce and mayonnaise, and sprinkled with nori seaweed and dried bonito flakes. The octopus may be substituted with shrimp, tomato, cheese or chocolate. The dish is prepared in a special pan that has hollow moulds and most homes in Osaka have this special tool for takoyaki parties. While most of the street side stalls in Osaka sell takoyaki, the Dotonbori Konamon Museum is one of the best places to try this delicacy.


2. Kushikatsu 

This is another must-try delicacy of Osaka and it mainly comprises of skewered kebabs of seafood, meat, or vegetables that are breaded and deep fried until they achieve a crispy golden finish. They are served with different styles of dipping sauces and flavored salt. Some of the typical ingredients you can expect to find on a kushikatsu menu are pork, beef, shrimp, eggs, sweet potato, pumpkin, onion, asparagus, lotus root, and shiitake mushrooms. Although you can find Kushikatsu in various restaurants around Osaka, it is believed to have originated in the Kushikatsu Daruma restaurant. Today Kushikatsu Daruma has branches in Dotonbori and Shinsekai. Customers are allowed to choose a variety of kushikatsu skewers or order a la carte menu. The oldest branch still serves the delicacy and some people love flocking to the birthplace of Kushikatsu.

Photo by: Kimishowoto on flickr

3. Okonomiyaki 

Love pancakes? Then you must try this Japanese version of it made from flour, eggs, shredded cabbage, and grated yam. You can add more on top of these basic ingredients – squid, pork, shrimp, tomato, or cheese. Okonomiyaki is basically a Japanese term that means ‘grilled stuff you like’ and it is dressed with mayonnaise, brown sauce, and powdered nori seaweed on the top. While you can find okonomiyaki restaurants in any part of Osaka, the most popular place is Mizuno in Dotonbori. You can watch the chef prepare pancakes in large iron griddles right in front of your eyes. You must try their signature dish ‘Mizuno-yaki’ which is filled with shrimp, scallops, pork, squid, oysters, and minced meat.

Photo by: fat worm on Pexels

4. Yakiniku 

This delicacy is pure and simple barbecued beef and it is prepared by grilling thinly slices of beef on a charcoal griddle. The pieces are then dipped in a savoury sauce before eating. It is believed that this style of barbeque was introduced to Japan by Korean restaurant owners. Even today the best restaurants are still the ones run by Koreans. If you want to taste the best yakiniku in Osaka, then you must visit Tsuruhashi, also nicknamed Korea town. In this section of Osaka, you will find Koreans who have lived here for ages. This is where you will find the most authentic Korean restaurants selling Yakiniku and the most popular among them is Ajiyoshi. You can order different cuts of grilled beef served with Ajiyoshi’s signature sauce.

Photo by: urakido on flickr

5. Fugu 

This is a type of raw fish delicacy is known as sashimi in Japanese, and it is notorious for being risky if prepared by an inexperienced chef. Despite this, you don’t need to worry when savouring a bowl of fugu as all chefs must train for three years before they get the license to make this delicacy. The dish is not only delicious to taste but also visually appealing with thin slices of fish arranged in a beautiful pattern. In sashimi style, the raw fish has a light and subtle flavour but you may also savor it in shabu shabu style in vegetable stew, tempura, or deep fried. At some places, you may get dried and baked fins of fugu, served with hot sake. In Osaka, the most popular area to find good fugu restaurants is Shinsekai, and the most sought after restaurant is Zuboraya.

Photo by: takedahrs on Pixabay

About the Author

James Easy Homemade Sushi
Today's guest post is from sushi blogger, James. 

James is a sushi enthusiast and owner of a sushi blog called Easy Homemade Sushi. He has been to Japan several times and loves Japanese food and culture. He is also a passionate writer and likes to share his experiences and knowledge through his blog.

Osaka Castle

Sunday, December 1, 2019

ByFood: Japan’s One-Stop Food Platform

Ultimate Osaka Night Tour
ByFood is Japan’s one-stop food platform with over 250 food experiences (and counting) across Japan, such as food tours, cooking classes, tastings, and dining experiences. With filters for vegan, halal, kosher, gluten-free, and more, byFood strives to make Japanese food experiences accessible to all. We bring locals and visitors together through food experiences, help small local businesses, and celebrate authentic Japanese cuisine. In doing so, we hope to preserve local Japanese heritage and promote cross-cultural understanding through food.

Spreading Happiness Through Food! 

ByFood’s mission is “spreading happiness through food.” For every experience that is booked through the platform, byFood donates to a different NPO or NGO of the month. So, just by enjoying a meal in Japan, guests can help children in developing countries get access to necessities like nutritious meals, schools, and housing, so they can grow up healthy and happy, and ready to change the world.

Here’s a preview of our recommended experiences: 

Food Tours 

Hop on a two-wheeler for a foodie bike tour, taste 6 bowls of ramen on a ramen tour, explore bustling fish markets on foot, or munch on the most Instagram-worthy sweets in Harajuku. There’s something for everyone!

Ultimate Osaka Night Tour

Ultimate Osaka Night Tour

Bar Hopping in Harmonica Yokocho (The Midnight Diners Experience)

Cooking Classes 

Learn to make ramen noodles from scratch, roll your own decorative sushi, fry up crunchy tempura, and more. The best souvenir you can take back home is the skills to make these classic Japanese dishes in your own kitchen!

Traditional Japanese Sweets, Wagashi and Mochi Class

Traditional Japanese Sweets, Wagashi and Mochi Class

Handmade Soba Noodles Cooking Class

Handmade Soba Noodles Cooking Class

Dining Experiences 

From omakase sushi with a personal chef to luxurious multi-course kaiseki meals to classic izakaya bar food, byFood offers a vast selection of dining experiences in Japan.

Sake Pairing & Omakase Sushi with Personal Chef

Sake Pairing & Omakase Sushi with Personal Chef

Most Expensive Ramen in Tokyo (Luxury A5 Wagyu)


Visit Japanese sake breweries, whisky distilleries, and tea farm regions in Japan during a byFood tasting experience. Tickle your tastebuds with new flavors and aromas, learn how to brew a superior cup of tea, and become an expert in your favorite Japanese beverages.

Kyoto Sake Brewery Tour in Fushimi Sake District

Kyoto Sake Brewery Tour in Fushimi Sake District

Tokyo Bars & Mixology

Tokyo Bars & Mixology

To see more, browse food experiences in Japan
Every booking helps children in need through byFood’s Food for Happiness Program.

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Rising Sun Prints

The Great Wave
Ukiyo-e is a style of Japanese art that flourished during the Edo period (1603-1868) in Japan. The artists of this traditional art form produce woodblock prints and paintings of beautiful landscapes, scenes from history and folk tales, samurai warriors, beautiful women, kabuki actors and sumo wrestlers to name just a few.

Today's guest post is from Rising Sun Prints, an online store that brings a sense of Japan's timeless beauty to your home.


“Every room and every soul is better with art.” 


Rising Sun Prints’ mission is to help lovers of Japanese culture live a more artful life, and to conserve and share the wonderful works of the Japanese art (Ukiyo-e) masters.

In the words of our founder, Jack Jenkins:
"I felt moved by the transcendent beauty of the Ukiyo-e masters, and a desire to make these works known and available.

In the art-form’s heyday, Ukiyo-e were mass-produced for the general public, costing about as much as a bowl of rice. That way, anyone could enjoy a famous view of a distant land, or their home city.

Paintings were for the wealthy social elite, the aristocrats. Ukiyo-e prints were made so that everyone could enjoy the masterpieces of the renowned artists of the day, like Hokusai or Kunisada.

Nowadays, you'll need a spare $10,000 to compete against collectors in auctions, if you want a faded, probably damaged Hokusai print. But in the spirit of the original Ukiyo-e publishers, at Rising Sun Prints we’re making Ukiyo-e accessible to all."

- Jack Jenkins, Founder

With our curated collections of stunning prints, we offer anyone the opportunity to bring a fragment of Japan’s timeless beauty into their home. Our team of enthusiastic art lovers creates articles dedicated to renowned ukiyo-e artists, genre specifics and Japanese culture in general as well as live events and documentaries to grow our community and help them appreciate and discover Japanese artists and their life’s work.


We offer collections of ukiyo-e artworks from various genres. The term ‘ukiyo-e’ refers to prints (and sometimes paintings) made in Japan within the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. These were made using the technique of woodblock printing - where the design would be carved out of cherry wood and printed onto handmade paper, allowing multiples in the thousands to be produced. The subject matter of the artworks commonly varied around what was popular within the pleasure districts, for instance sumo wrestling, kabuki theatre or geisha, but inspiration also arose from the landscapes, warriors, eroticism and legends that formed Japan’s rich culture.


Starry Night at Miyajima Shrine
“Starry Night at Miyajima Shrine” - Hasui, 1928

Landscapes were a common genre in ukiyo-e. At the time, Japanese people wanted to view images of travel because they themselves were unable to do so, due to the strict political landscape. But Japanese people also had a deep, spiritual love and respect for nature, relishing in its beauty. We have mesmerising works by some of the most famous landscape artists, including Hokusai, Hiroshige and Hasui.

Warriors, Myths and Legends 

Tokuda Magodayu Shigemori
“Tokuda Magodayu Shigemori” - Kuniyoshi, 1947-48

Warriors, Myths and Legends were another much-loved element of Japanese culture. They were usually tales of the adventures of: samurai (military noblemen), ronin (samurai without masters) and otokodate (commonly known as ‘street knights’). Rising Sun Prints honors Kuniyoshi's legacy as one of the last masters of ukiyo-e printmaking, and the leading model of Bushido values in Japanese art. This collection of majestic prints is a tribute to his mastery, skill and display of warrior virtue.

Beauty Prints 

After washing her hair
“After washing her hair” - Ito, 1936

Beauty Prints (Bijin-ga) was one of the most popular forms of ukiyo-e. They depicted the beauties of the day: the courtesans and geisha of the pleasure districts. The artworks portrayed an idealised, traditional interpretation of female beauty. They were also the main instigator of fashion and styles within hair, make-up and clothes. Visitors of our website have the opportunity to acquire wonderful pieces by Ito, Yoshitoshi, Utamaru, Harunobu, Chikanobu and Eisen.

Birds & Flowers

Cranes on a snow-covered pine tree
“Cranes on a snow-covered pine tree” - Hokusai, 1834

Birds and Flowers (Kacho-e) were exquisite displays of the natural world - of which the Japanese had the utmost respect for. Many images are embedded with metaphorical and poetic meanings, such as cherry blossoms: which can represent a precious but transient life. Our product range includes many of Hokusai and Hiroshige’s masterpieces where they employ their artistic talent to portray the unique beauty of Japan’s nature.

Erotic Prints 

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife
“The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife” - Hokusai, 1814

Erotic Prints (Shunga) were artworks that portrayed sexually exciting scenes. Unlike many Western cultures, sensual pleasures were considered to be a sacred part of Japanese culture and were not frowned upon in religion. Types of shunga scenes can range from the flirtatious showing of a woman’s neck to multiple couples engaging in exposed coitus. Our collection presents artworks by Utamaru, Eisen, Kiyonaga, Kunisada and Hokusai, the most well-known being “The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife”, which has become Hokusai’s best known shunga print and has had a massive influence on Japanese culture.

Kabuki Actor Prints

Ichikawa Sadanji as Fukashichi the fishmonger
“Ichikawa Sadanji as Fukashichi the fishmonger” - Kunichika, 1883

Kabuki Actor Prints (Yakusha-e) were one of the most popular forms of ukiyo-e. As the theatre art of kabuki was so actor-centred, the heroes and villains of the plays, and the actors who played them, became celebrities. Much like the famous actors of our time, the Japanese public wanted to display images of them in their homes. We have an amazing selection of highlights from masters of the genre: Kunisada, Kunichika and the enigmatic innovator, Sharaku.

Supernatural Prints 

The ghost of Kohada Koheiji
“The ghost of Kohada Koheiji” - Hokusai, 1831

Supernatural Prints (Yōkai) covered everything from ghost, to demon to strange apparition. Japan’s history is rich with folklore, the exciting and scary stories of spirits and creatures that brought both good and bad fortune. Originally these beings were incredibly feared, but after being so heavily illustrated in ukiyo-e, much of the belief in yōkai has disappeared. Our community can enjoy a gorgeous collection of Yōkai prints by the great Hokusai as well as Kuniyoshi who specialized in the area.

You can find your own reminder of Japan’s captivating culture on our website, where masterpieces of the ukiyo-e genre transcend time!

Rising Sun Prints Website

The Great Wave
The Great Wave

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Matsuya Gyudon Vending Machine

Matsuya Restaurant
A new innovation is hitting Japan’s gyudon industry with the introduction of Japan’s first ever gyudon vending machine. Japan is known the world-over for its vending machines, which can just about be found on every street corner from major cities like Tokyo and Osaka to little country towns in the middle of nowhere.

Most of these sell hot or cold drinks and sometimes even snacks, but now there is a game-changer with the world’s first gyudon vending machine from fast-food chain Matsuya.

Matsuya is a popular restaurant chain in Japan that serves gyudon (beef bowls) and Japanese curry. They are known for their budget-friendly menu items that are quick, cheap, and tasty. By far, their most popular dish is their gyudon (shredded beef and onions served over a bowl of steaming rice).

Matsuya Restaurant
Matsuya Restaurant | Wikimedia Commons

This unique gyudon vending machine has been installed at the employee cafeteria of Gree, a Tokyo-based mobile game company.

The vending machine is fully-stocked with a variety of Matsuya’s most popular dishes including their standard beef bowl and Japanese curry. Prices range from 450-500 yen (USD$4.15-$4.60), which is comparable to the regular prices at their restaurants.

The dishes come with miso soup and need to be warmed up in the microwave which is adjacent to the vending machine.

Matsuya Gyudon
Matsuya Gyudon with Miso Soup | Photo by: エドガー on Flickr

We are hoping that Matsuya roll out their enhanced version of the vending machine to other locations around Japan soon, so we can give it a try. What do you think? Are you keen to give this new vending machine a try? Please leave your replies in the comments below.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Tokyo Racecourse ~ More Than Just Horse Racing

Tokyo Racecourse
Looking for a cheap & fun day out in Tokyo? Check out Tokyo Racecourse located only a short 20-minute train ride from downtown Tokyo in Fuchu City.

Tokyo Racecourse, which is run by the Japan Racing Association (JRA), is a fun family orientated travel destination just outside of central Tokyo that is a great escape from the big city. A visit here is like taking a day trip from the hustle and bustle of central Tokyo, whisking you away to a thrilling location that feels like you are miles away in a totally different part of the country.

Back home in Australia, a day at the races means men in suits, ladies in gorgeous dresses and fascinators (hats), and a chance to mingle with the rich and famous for a day. In Japan, it is more of a family affair with kids and cute mascots. There is definitely something for everyone at Tokyo Racecourse.

Entry to the theme park-esque venue is only 200 yen for live race days and FREE on days with no races, and includes access to all the ride and attractions for FREE. There are a lot of staff on hand at each attraction to ensure that everything goes smoothly and everyone is safe and looked after with the greatest of care.

There are lots of entertaining spots to enjoy for the day at Tokyo Racecourse including the various activities and attractions below: 

Fuji View Grandstand & Grassed Area 

A massive modern grandstand that offers views of the iconic Mount Fuji on clear days, it is the perfect place to take in a race and feel the excitement and atmosphere of a day out at the races. Bring a picnic blanket and your lunch box and you can relax on the grassed area near the grandstand to admire Japan’s best thoroughbreds in action.

Fuji View Grandstand

Infield Amusement Playground 

Follow the underground passage under the track to kids heaven at the infield amusement playground which includes a huge blown up Turfy (JRA mascot) jumping castle, JR-dome adventure playground, mini Shinkansen ride and food fair with a different theme each week.

Turfy JRA Mascot

Hiyoshigaoka Park 

The kids will love the playground equipment at this cool park which includes a huge wooden pirate ship, jungle gym, grass lawn to play on and sand pit.

Pirate Ship at Hiyoshigaoka Park

Horse Riding Experience 

Jump on the back of a former racehorse in the paddock to experience what it is like to ride these majestic animals.

Horse Riding Experience

Horse Patting (Uma no Fureai

A great place for the kids to stroke the horses and get comfortable with these beautiful warm animals. There are little ponies for the little ones, and bigger horses for the big kids. This is a fantastic spot for that golden photo opportunity.

Horse Patting (Uma no Fureai)

Horse Carriage Ride in Rose Garden 

Enjoy a slow stroll around the rose garden in a horse-pulled carriage through the Zelkova-lined street. You will feel like royalty with this relaxing ride which comes complete with driver dressed in elegant attire.

Horse Carriage Ride in Rose Garden

Horse Viewing in the Parade Ring 

Catch a glimpse of the race horses and jockeys close up before the race. This is the place where the punters will be studying the horses before the race to try and pick a winner.

Horse Viewing in the Parade Ring

JRA Racing Museum 

Learn all about the storied-history of horses and horse racing in Japan, including a hall of fame of Japan’s most famous horses.

JRA Racing Museum

Restaurants & Food Court 

One of the hardest decisions you will have to make at Tokyo Racecourse is what to eat. With a wide-range of restaurants located all around the venue you have some great choices including some of my personal favourites such as Coco Ichibanya and Hanamaru. If you are on a budget, you are also allowed to bring your own food and drinks into the venue.

Umajo Spot 

The Umajo spot is a women’s-only café at Tokyo Racecourse designed to appeal to younger women. Here female visitors can enjoy special horse-themed goodies and drinks while learning all about the betting process in a cute kawaii space.

Umajo Spot

Japanese-style Garden 

Enjoy the seasonal beauty of this quiet and peaceful Japanese-style garden located behind the horse viewing parade ring. In spring, the garden comes alive with cherry blossoms, and in fall, there is colorful autumn leaves to admire. There is also a large pond featuring Japanese koi (carp) and plenty places to sit and soak up the beauty and atmosphere.

Japanese-style Garden

Horse Show 

Watch some equestrian elegance here with a horse show featuring acrobatics, trotting and beautiful dance performances by the horses.

Horse Show

Future Events 

On November 24th, 2019, the Japan Cup, a big Group 1 race will be held at Tokyo Racecourse. This international event will feature horses from around the world and is one of world racing’s richest purses.

In conjunction with the Japan Cup on November 24th, from 9:00 - 16:00, there will be the following events:

(1) Special novelty items will be gifted to visitors on answering a simple questionnaire.

(2) There will also be a stamp rally and those who participate and complete it, will get a discount coupon of 1000 yen that can be used at any of the food stalls or presented with a novelty item.

Note: These events are only for overseas visitors to Japan.

For more information about Tokyo Racecourse, visit the JRA website.

Tokyo Racecourse Information 

Address: 1-1 Hiyoshi-cho, Fuchu-shi, Tokyo, 183-0024

Entry fee: ¥200 (free for children under 15) on live race days. FREE for all on non-race days.

Open hours: 9am-5pm on race days

Weekdays: 10am-noon, 1pm-4pm (except Mondays, Tuesdays, holidays)

Website: japanracing.jp


Take the Keio Line from Shinjuku and either get off at Fuchu Keiba Seimon Mae Station or Higashi-Fuchu Station. The walk from Fuchu Keiba Seimon Mae Station to the main gate is only 2 minutes, while from Higashi-Fuchu Station, it is a 10-minute walk.

Tapioca Tea from the 360 View Cafe

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Enthronement Ceremony for Japan’s Emperor

Emperor proclaims enthronement in a special ceremony
Today, Tuesday, October 22nd is a National Holiday in Japan to celebrate the formal enthronement of Emperor Naruhito.

At 1pm (JST) Japan’s new Emperor, Naruhito formally proclaimed his accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne in an ancient-style ceremony at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

The central enthronement ceremony, called “Sokui no Rei” in Japanese is held at the “Seiden Matsu no Ma”, the Seiden State Room of the Imperial Palace. About 2,000 dignitaries attended the ceremony including the Prime Minister of Japan, heads of both Diet chambers, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and foreign dignitaries from about 190 countries.

The short ceremony involved the Emperor, who was dressed in a traditional reddish brown robe called the “Kourozen no Gohou”, entering the State Room with his chamberlains who carried two of the three sacred Imperial treasures (the scared sword, and the sacred jewel), which act as symbols of Imperial power.

Emperor proclaims enthronement in a special ceremony
Image from NHK World Japan

The Emperor proclaimed his accession to the throne on the 6.5-meter-high Takamikura, also known as the Chrysanthemum Throne in the center of the room. The Takamikura (高御座) is a special throne kept in the Kyoto Imperial Palace, and is used by the Japanese monarchy for enthronement ceremonies. It has been used for important ceremonies since the Nara Period in the 8th Century.

The current throne, along with the “Michodai” or the “August Seat” for the Empress were made in 1913 for the accession of Emperor Taisho.

The Takamikura Chrysanthemum Throne
The Takamikura Throne from Wikimedia Commons

The elaborately decorated octagonal canopy of the throne is decorated with a side panel of a phoenix and a Qilin (dragon-headed creature), while the canopy is topped with a large golden statue of a phoenix. Inside the throne are stands called “An”, where the sacred Imperial treasures, along with the State Seal and Privy Seal will be placed.

The Takamikura and the Michodai Thrones
Image from NHK World Japan

According to legend, the Japanese monarchy is said to have been founded in 660 BC by the legendary Emperor Jimmu. It is the oldest continuing hereditary monarchy in the world with Emperor Naruhito, the 126th monarch to sit upon the Chrysanthemum Throne.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Summer Fireworks in Japan

The Gamagori Summer Fireworks Festival
Summer fireworks in Japan have a long history and can be considered a quintessential part of the warmer months in Japan. Across the country, hundreds of fireworks festivals are held every year, but two of the best and most traditional are held in the Mikawa region of central Japan.

Armadas, a video production company based in Japan recently released a stunning 8K video which captures all the thrills and excitement of a summer fireworks festival in Japan.

Shot in the Mikawa region of eastern Aichi Prefecture, this old province in central Japan was one of the few places where gunpowder could be manufactured during the Edo period (1603-1868). The making of firearms gradually evolved into the production of fireworks, including the unique tezutsu hand-held fireworks, which originated in Toyohashi City. Originally used as a form of battlefield and inter-castle communication devices, they are now a popular summer festival attraction.

The Gamagori Summer Fireworks Festival which is held annually on the last weekend of July, starts on the Saturday with “Yosakoi” street dancing and climaxes with a stunning fireworks display on the Sunday. It can boast the largest explosive round in the entire Pacific Rim with an astounding 90cm-diameter 300 kg shell.

The Gamagori Summer Fireworks Festival
Image from Aichi Now

The Toyohashi Fire Festival in September at the home of hand-held fireworks in Japan features tezutsu hanabi accompanied by the sounds of taiko Japanese drumming.

The Toyohashi Fire Festival
Image from Aichi Now

Take a look at this 8K video from Armadas shot in Toyohashi and Gamagori City to experience a traditional Japanese summer fireworks festival at its best.

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