The sky’s pretty grey today, so I bring my umbrella with me on my walk over to the Osaka National Museum of Art (NMAO). With its geometric structure inspired by bamboo plants, it’s hard to miss this building once you get to Nakanoshima. The museum is entirely underground, which is somehow not a claustrophobic experience for me. I decide to only see the museum’s permanent collection exhibit: “NMAO collection with Alberto Giacometti II”. The exhibit is designed as a sequel to “NMAO collection with Alberto Giacometti I”, which possibly explains why I find it a tad puzzling (but enjoyable nonetheless).

A very short walk away from NMAO is Graf, a home decor store and café. The shop section has beautiful products that strike the delicate balance between the natural and minimalist. This place is a must if you’re willing to pay more for well-crafted, durable local products. I also recommend visiting Calo Bookshop and Cafe, a small art and design-focused bookstore that has an impressive collection of zines. The place is also known for its Indian curry and sandwiches, which seem to be popular among Osaka businesswomen.

I then wander around Utsubo Park, a peaceful patch of green that was actually built over a former US Army airfield — this explains its long runway shape. After this, and a quick and satisfying lunch amidst local businesspeople at Lawson, I start walking east. I pass by Aida General Store,  a lovely store in Nakazakicho (the shop has since closed, though it has other locations in Osaka). There are many cool independent fashion boutiques, cafes and thrift shops on the same street, and it’s a great area to find gifts. It’s also a nice break from the hustle and bustle of Osaka Umeda, the city’s busiest transportation hub.

My last visit of the day is to the Osaka Castle and Garden. Osaka Castle itself is surrounded by a very lush moat — so lush it’s almost tempting to dive into (don’t do this). At the time it was built, in the late 1600’s, this castle was the largest in Japan, and while it has since been surpassed, it is still a very impressive structure. I don’t quite feel like visiting the castle, and instead choose to wander its small garden, which turns out to be the best and least crowded vantage point for photographing the castle.

I drop off all of my Don Quijote treats at CharinCo before heading out to dinner. This is my last dinner of the whole trip, and I couldn’t think of a better place to spend it at than Green Earth, Osaka’s oldest vegetarian restaurant. While its name sounds like a fancy West Village restaurant, Green Earth is actually quite a modest spot, serving cheap, no frills vegetarian dishes. I’m very pleased with the tempeh sandwich I order. If I lived in Osaka, this would definitely be my go-to dinner spot.

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