I agree, the club name is humorously long. But the Osaka Systematized Good-Will Guides Club (henceforth OSGG) was a very awesome experience for Tiernan and I while we were in Osaka. They’re a non-profit, no-fee tour guide service (although there are a couple of things you should pay for, see the end of the blog). Considering the exorbitant cost of day tours in Japan, it’s nice to know there is an economical option that is not only locally operated, but also completely flexible.
It didn’t even matter that there were only two of us. After filling out the online form on the OSGG website, our trip plan was circulated amongst the 55-strong membership base and a guide volunteered to show us around.
Spritely retiree Mike met us in our hotel lobby at 8.55 am on a Monday morning. We were going to do a tour I had designed; beginning with a 10 am visit to the Asahi Brewery. One hung-over Tiernan in tow (told you it wasn’t me), Mike marched us smartly to the subway to purchase our day passes for the train.
The Asahi Brewery is in Suita, an area just north of Osaka City on the Hankyu-Senri Line. You could probably call it the suburbs.
It’s odd for me to go to a brewery since I don’t really drink. But as I had never been to one before, the chance to go was quite novel. I was completely fascinated by how cans get their lids on and how boxes get folded and packed. I am absolutely convinced that we will all be replaced by machines one day.
Now, there is no filming inside the brewery and the tour is conducted completely in Japanese (with an English brochure). I had to assure Mike that it was no problem we couldn’t understand the lady because we just wanted to see the machines.
That said, I completely recommend this tour because not only is it a pretty interesting factory, but you get free beer at the end of it. Like three beers each. And at 10 am that is probably the maximum you need.
You will need to book in advance if you would like to visit the factory as they do not accept walk-ins at all. Mike took care of the booking for us.
For Mike, it was his second time to the factory. The last time, he said, he went was with a film crew. He was puzzled as to why they would go considering there was no filming. He seemed to enjoy his beer, too 🙂 Definitely had more than Tiernan and I together!
With our stomachs lined with golden bubbles we were all feeling a lot happier. Mike said he would like to take us for Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き, Japanese Pancakes) – which I love and Tiernan had never tried. So off we went to the station again and ended up in a wonderful little restaurant near Namba station. The Okonomiyaki is cooked on the hot plate at your table. I can assure you, it was fantastic.
Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake and an Osaka specialty. Okonomiyaki means ‘as you like it’. Naturally, you can have whatever you like in it. The main bulk is made up of Okonomiyaki-flour, yam, egg, and cabbage. Delicious meet or tofu is then added. After it cooks they add mayonnaise and lovely Okonomiyaki-sauce which creates the hearty meal you see here. I don’t have a sauced photo, because (as usual) I ate it and forgot about the pictures…
After lunch, we took the train back to Tanamachi Yonchome station and walked up to Osaka Castle, which you can read about here. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to go together to Dotonburi as we had planned. We had so much fun it was 4 p.m. before we knew it. Fortunately, Tiernan and I did manage to get there on our own later that day around dinner time.
Osaka Walking Tour Itinerary
9.00 am Leave accommodation (ours was in Tanimachi Yonchome) This is by all accounts a late start for a tour, but it will allow for breakfast and snoozes 🙂
10.00 am Arrive and begin the tour at Asahi Brewery in Suita
11.30 am Leave Asahi for Namba
12.00 pm Sitting down for some Osaka-special Okonomiyaki
1.30 pm Leave the restaurant begrudingly
2.00 pm Arrive, full and rearing to go, at Osaka Castle for a walk about the grounds
4.00 pm leave the castle for Shinsaibashi and Dotonburi
Eat, drink and be merry there until you feel like heading home
Osaka Systematized Good-will Guides
You will need to pay for your guide’s travel costs, entry fees and lunch – because you’re nice that way. Even after those costs it is still a lot cheaper than the day tour companies you can find online. With their USD 150 per person fees. What are you even paying for?
As our guide was a volunteer guide at Osaka Castle as well, we didn’t have to pay any fees at all for him while we were there. The whole cost was about 1500yen (€20) for our guide. Our own food and transport was probably another €10-15 on top of that. Cheap as chips as we say in NZ.
I could write up my own recipe, but Jun’s is awesome. So let’s use his. You may also recognise the sound track from some of our Ireland videos.