December 22 2016
Osaka is a large port city and commercial center on the Japanese island of Honshu. It’s known for its modern architecture, nightlife and hearty street food. The 16th-century shogunate Osaka Castle, which has undergone several restorations, is its main historical landmark. It’s surrounded by a moat and park with plum, peach and cherry-blossom trees. Sumiyoshi-taisha is among Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines.
Beetle and I decided to take a few days off and go to Osaka for a break. We took the train to Hakata Station in Fukoka and then boarded a bullet train to Osaka. The train to Hakata was comfortable and quiet but the bullet train (green car upgrade!) was heaven. It was like being rocked to sleep. It helped that the seats reclined to almost parallel to the ground.
After a quick nap at our hotel, we ventured out to Dontonbori, a popular nightlife spot nearby. My word of the year for 2017 is “courage” so I insisted that we wait in line for a taste of Osaka’s famous takoyaki.
Takoyaki is a Japanese snack in the shape of little round balls containing pieces of octopus. There are a million street vendors selling these little balls in Osaka and Anthony Bourdain made them seem like a “must-have” on his Parts Unknown show.
They are revolting.
I tried to love them. I wanted to love them. I could not.
I watched my husband pop a whole one into his mouth so I followed suit. It tasted like Thanksgiving and fish. The gooey center was too gooey and not nearly warm enough. My stomach began turning as I struggled to chew on the octopus that was too big, too cold, and too hard. I couldn’t help myself. I spit it out. Yes. I was “that American.”
Sorry, Japan. I have failed you.