Hanami in Osaka

Hanami in Osaka Japan

During the cherry blossom season in Japan, people flock to the parks to view the blooms and have picnics. The first park I visited was Kema Sakuranomiya Park by the O River in Osaka.

Groups gather on picnic blankets or giant blue tarps. They remove and neatly line them up before sitting in a circle. Employees on their lunch break typically eat store-bought bento boxes, while families enjoy homemade food. Some even prepare a fresh meal on a tiny grill.

I joined the few individuals sitting on benches. My lunch seemed fairly basic, but I noticed many others also picked up their lunch from a nearby FamilyMart, Lawson, or 7-Eleven. Despite my hesitation, I soon understood why convenience store food is so popular. Of course it wasn’t a gourmet meal, but it was better than the food served at some restaurants.

My cold lunch set consisted of soba noodles and Inari. The sushi was incredibly fresh and delicious. On the other hand, the soba noodles appeared to be a disaster. They were all stuck together, and impossible to eat. Then I discovered that they came with a clear packet that appeared to be water. Once I poured the water in and mixed the noodles, they separated like magic. The soba noodles tasted even better with the shredded seaweed and green onion toppings. Since the sauce provided appeared to have bonito in it, I made a note to grab plain soy sauce packets next time.

After I was done my lunch, it proved to be impossible to find a garbage bin. My usual hack for Japan is to check for one in public washrooms, but that only works when they have paper towels. While walking around, I heard a sound reminiscent of an ice cream truck. Weirdly enough, this turned out to be a coca cola sponsored garbage truck. It seems that people threw their garbage bags into a fence enclosed area, and so I did the same. Then I walked upwind.

Hanami in Osaka Japan


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A late lunch at Green Earth in Osaka

Lunch at Green Earth in Osaka

Before getting hangry, I search through the restaurants on my map. There’s plenty of options, but they are all a train ride away. I’m not sure if I feel like figuring out train fares and transfers. It’s a 20 minute walk to the closest vegan restaurant, Green Earth. The beauty of this place is that it doesn’t close between lunch and dinner, so it’s perfect for jet-lagged travellers.

When I arrive at Green Earth, the place is empty. This can be a bad sign, but considering it’s a weird time I don’t let it throw me. It turns out to be a good thing because I get served quickly before fellow travellers and locals start to trickle in. Since I’m starving, I order the mysterious lunch of the day.

Each daily special has a different type of main and soup, and is served with rice and two salads. I love meals that consist of multiple dishes in one course. The variety feels like a mini buffet for one. I like to sample each dish, and save my favourites for last. This proves to be a difficult task since every flavour in my lunch is spot on.

The stew is rich and hearty, and goes well with the rice topped with sesame salt. The hot soup is comforting. The salads are lightly tosses in divine dressing, and sprinkled with roasted nuts for a nice crunch. My adventurous choice pays off. I’ve read that in Japan it’s considered wasteful to leave food behind, but I don’t have to worry because I’ve devoured every last crumb.

Since Green Earth is close to my hotel, I’m tempted to save it as a backup for when other places are closed. But everything was so delicious that I definitely want to return sooner to taste the rest of the menu.


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The All Nippon Airways Experience

The All Nippon Airways Experience - Danielle Geva

When booking flights to Japan, I was willing to endure a couple of layovers to get to fly with All Nippon Airways within my budget.

My main concern with long flights is the food. There is little you can bring through security, and you can’t rely on the options at the airport. Some airports have decent food, but it’s difficult to plan ahead since food varies from terminal to terminal, gates may be announced late or change, and places may be closed around departure time. That leaves you with notoriously awful airplane food. Worse yet, there were times where the airline didn’t even have a meal for me.

ANA impressed me from the get go. For starters, their site lists several different meal options that worked for my dietary restrictions. Another reassuring sign, was a glowing review of ANA’s food that included a useful timeline of when to expect the meals. As if that wasn’t enough, ANA’s meals were actually voted on and chosen by customers.

Despite these high expectations, ANA still delivered above and beyond. The food was delicious, and the incredibly friendly crew members made it taste even better.

The All Nippon Airways Experience - Danielle Geva

After takeoff, a crew member confirmed my meal choice and put a sticker on the top of my seat to avoid confusion. Shortly after, it was snack time. This wasn’t your typical dry pretzels though. ANA’s snack was amazing seaweed rice crackers. The sweet and savoury treat was clearly marked as vegetarian, and a crew member also reassured me it was suitable for me when they handed it out. I spent the rest of the trip searching for a similar snack in grocery stores.

The All Nippon Airways Experience - Danielle Geva

It wasn’t long before the first meal arrived. The hearty main consisted of rice, spinach, and tofu marinated in a vegetable tomato sauce. There were also two sides, and a dessert. The leafy greens came with lemon dressing, which I used for the grilled tofu and vegetables side. The dessert was juicy fruit pieces. It’s worth noting how ANA’s attention to detail made the meal exceptional. The tofu in the main was cooked in flavourful sauce to keep it from being bland, while the grilled tofu and vegetables weren’t drenched in oil. The salad had a variety of leafy greens, rather than the standard iceberg lettuce. Finally, the fruit wasn’t dry or artificially sweetened, instead it actually tasted like freshly sliced fruit.  

The All Nippon Airways Experience - Danielle Geva

The drinks in between meals were also lovely. The hot/cold Japanese green tea, and the Aromatic Kabosu were both welcome changes to the concentrated juices usually served on planes. If you travel in First Class with ANA, you’ll also get to enjoy an authentic bowl of matcha.

The All Nippon Airways Experience - Danielle Geva

Before the final meal, I woke up to nibble on a cute finger sandwich filled with grilled vegetables. Then two hours before landing, a mouth-watering vegetable noodle dish was served. There were sides, but I was fully focused on the perfect seasoning of the noodles. This was definitely a meal I can’t wait to replicate at home.   

The All Nippon Airways Experience - Danielle Geva


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