Osaka eats: First unagi, first sake

Everywhere in Osaka is warm: trains, department stores, even the refrigerator in my room (luke-cool) as Japan powers down after the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The streets blister under a moist blanket of 95-degree heat, but even this pales against Kyoto, just an hour from Osaka, where all the temples on Hawaiian Air’s tour seem to be uphill.

I join the tour largely because of lunch. Kyoto-style yudofu, or boiled tofu, is legendary, but I don’t know why. The second reason I join is because I haven’t been temple-hopping in the ancient capital this millennium, so this will be nostalgic. The clincher is that even though everybody who mentions the heat in Osaka also notes, in the next breath, that Kyoto is so much hotter because it’s in a windless bowl ringed by mountains, today’s tour will be on an air-conditioned bus.

So that’s the plan: take water and fan, walk slowly, don’t melt. Tonight, fresh grilled unagi and an izakaya await me back in Osaka.

Osaka eats

Picture 1 of 19

Yes, a tour photo: Hawaii new media meets old Japan. Here we are in front of Chion-in, an imposing, elegant compound featured in “The Last Samurai.”

At left: Burt Lum, aka @bytemarks, co-host of public radio’s Bytemarks Cafe and Nonstop tech contributor. Burt’s personal mission in Osaka seems to include a daily hunt for oishii ramen.

In hot pink:’s Esme Infante, aka @EsmeInfanteNii, here to check out Osaka’s family activities.

At right: Dallas Nagata White, aka @dallasnagata, posting her poetic photo interpretations of Japan on her own blog and here at Nonstop.

Both part-Japanese, Esme and Dallas are seeing the country for the first time.

Here’s Dallas’s photo blog of the same day, Burt’s video and pics, and Esme’s first blog.

Tomorrow: Tofu donuts, raw oysters, tomato shave ice and Kyoto’s biggest street fest

Disclaimer: Air transportation provided by Hawaiian Airlines.

Read and watch the complete Japan eats series:

Konnichiwa Osaka!
First night in the Big O
Osaka eats: First unagi, first sake
Sensory overload in Kyoto
Ichiban oishii: My roundup of fave foods
Sayonara Osaka