It was hard to leave Kyoto and its romantic history still alive today, its cobblestone streets, its old-style homes, and if one is lucky, a sighting of geishas in Gion who are said to be quickly becoming extinct. Osaka was a shock relative to the small town charm of Kyoto. High rises command the skyline. Osaka was also one of the cities that got bombed in World War II, ergo its lack of preserved traditional structures. There's a thick crowd of people dressed for business. Commerce is in full swing (what recession?) if the lines at the mall are any indication.
It was tough to leave the cocoon of the hotel after an hour of zen at the spa, but seize the moment, we must. We did not have a fancy schedule in Osaka. We just needed to check out what Japanese goods our strong currency could procure (who knows when this will happen again?) duty-free, a taste of the famed Japanese beef, and a romp around Dotonburi, Osaka's Time Square.
We missed out on Japanese beef in Kyoto so it was imperative not to depart Japan without trying it. We ended up at a traditional restaurant with tatami floors where you sit at cushions on the floor and cook your own beef shabu shabu and sukiyaki style. Neither of us have done this before so we were delighted that our server showed us the ropes (in good English!).