Andrew calls at 9:30. We head off to the combini. And then on further. Through the Kuromon market a bit and on to Dotonbori Street.
It's a bit early and most stuff is closed. Or just opening. We sit in the shade and have a drink. While trying not to get run over by the vans dodging around us.
Andrew wants to look at the river, so we head over there. And walk down the side a little. Snapping away like the other terrorists.
Feeling peckish, I get some strawberries on a stick. 300 yen (+-2 euros) for five. But very nice.
Just past an offie, we spot a craft beer. pub. Not open for several more hours. "I'll remember that for later."
“I’m sure you will, Dad.”
We walk a little more. And my old legs start complaining. My mouth follows.
"I fancy sitting down for a drink. Even just a coffee, Andrew."
We find a western-looking cafe. With an Hawaiian theme. Andrew has a draught beer, I get an iced coffee. It comes to 1,700 yen. Or about 12 euros.
We walk back through the big covered market. God, there’s some yummy looking food. All the local stuff: okonomiyaki, the octopus balls, lots of grilled things on sticks, including wagyu beef, marbled to hell.
"We need to eat here later."
"We can get something on our way out tonight."
We hit Lawsons before returning to our hotel. I get a bottle of Suntory whisky. At 1,500 yen, cheaper than the two drinks we had in the cafe. WTF?
After waiting out the hottest part of the day, we go through the market around 5 PM, just before everything starts closing down. My plan is to get some food. Starting with some wagyu beef. Which, though pricey, is dead good. It comes on a stick. As does pretty much all the carryout food in the market.
What seasoning do I want? Just the salt, I think. No need for barbecue sauce. Judging from the server’s reaction, that seems to be the right choice.
Our next course also comes on a stick. Some sort of shellfish. Not sure exactly what it is. There’s no English translation, as there is with the other items. An old bloke patiently grills it with twin blowtorches. Occasionally squirting over what I assume is soy sauce. It tastes dead good.
We continue on to Dotonbori, which is now really livening up. As coaches disgorge tourist parties to clog the street. Our destination is the tiny craft beer bar we walked past earlier in the day.
On the way, I notice that the street is full of host bars. With the occasional hostess bar just for variation. How can they support so many of these places? Who goes to them?
“A lot of the customers are hostesses.”
“Did I just say that out loud?”
“Yes, Dad. It’s your senile thing, remember?”
“That all sounds a bit circular. Don’t they get into a feedback loop?”
“Don’t be stupid.”
The occasional work-bound hostess passes. I’d be much more reluctant to walk around the street the way they’re dressed, like stocking-clad maids. Then again, I am an old, fat bloke.
The bar is tiny. Even tinier than the one in Kyoto. But has nine draught taps. Unfortunately, no seats.
The barmaid is also tiny. Having the floor behind the bar six inches lower means she barely comes up to our midriffs. I order an Our Brewing Break Time, billed as a Juicy Double IPA. 8% ABV and 60 IBU.
My beer isn't bad. And hardly sludgy at all. Andrew has a Pilsner. Then a cider, which is so sludgy it looks like milk.
I can walk around OK, but too much standing does me in. A third of the way into my Juicy DIPA, I have to go over the street and sit on some steps. While I'm sitting there, someone comes out from the building behind me and set up a sign right next to me. It's for a host bar. I'm surprised he doesn't tell me to fuck off. I'm not the greatest advert for the place.
I only have the one. Then we go back to or hotel. Past ever thickening crowds of tourists. And men clearly on their way to work in host bars: jacket and tie, dyed hair, make up. Either that, or they’re on their way to a Eurovision party a week early.
Walking past a hostess bar, the draggers-in smile and wave at me.
“Look Andrew, the hostesses like me.”
“Dad, that’s literally their job.”
“Are you sure? They look really genuine.”
“Stop being stupid, Dad.”
Back at the hotel, we rest a little and I pick at some strawberries as we check out where to go next. There's a brewpub in Namba Station, Dotonbori Craftbeer. But it shuts at 10. And it's already after eight.
It's not obvious where the place is, as it's tucked inside a shopping centre under the station. Luckily, we find a map.
As we're walking down the stairs into it, Andrew bangs his head. First time this trip. Hopefully, he isn't concussed.
A waitress tells us when we enter that last orders are at 9 PM. We've about 20 minutes.
We're shown to a private booth and quickly order two beers. Pils, I think. It's hard to be sure as the menu is only in Japanese. We order a plate of gyozas, too.
Quickly knocking back the beers, I notice they also have a dark one. We order two of those. I'm guessing it's a Stout, as it's a bit roasty. We manage to slip in another brace of beers and a plate of gyozas before closing.
While Andrew goes for a piss in the shopping centre, I watch the salary men rushing to get their trains home. And a lone hostess, presumably on her way to work, looking very out of place. It's a very Japanese scene.
Outside the streets are bright and vibrant. People rush around. Like Blade Runner without the rain. Andrew takes a snap of me for Dolores.
We enter a weird “Lowsons”, which seems to be an anime-themed version of Lawsons. We get ourselves some more drinks and nibbles. Wouldn’t want to run dry.
Back in the hotel, I drink some whisky and Andrew some beer. While we watch the Standy-Uppy guys on Youtube. It's been a full, fun day. With lots of walking. Which is probably good for me.
Stand Umineko Craft Beer
2 Chome-2-11 Shinsaibashisuji,
Mon - Fri 17:00 - 23:00
Sat - Sun 15:00 - 23:00
Kuromon Ichiba Market
2 Chome Nipponbashi,
Dotonbori Craftbeer Brewery Namba
Mon - Fri 11:30 - 15:00, 17:00 - 22:00
Sat - Sun & Holiday 11:30 - 22:00