‘I went to Japan – I ended up going to a public bath naked and eating squid guts’

The maze of narrow streets, the sultry night air filled with the aroma of street food, raindrops falling like liquid crystals, casting gleaming lights on the wet asphalt, reflecting the vibrant neon lights above.

The surreal juxtaposition of these reflections lit up ancient ruins, statues and futuristic skyscrapers, but those around me didn’t seem to notice. This is exactly what I was looking for in Japan.

Earlier, our taxi driver galloped down the rain-soaked streets of Osaka as high-end fashion boutiques zipped by at breakneck speed.

But behind that wall lies the true beating heart of this historic Japanese city, which has become the country’s modern culinary hub, aka the Kansai Kitchen, a place not good for the waistline but very good for the heart and soul.

Dotonbori District, Osaka(Getty Images)

Taking shelter from the rain, we sneaked into a small restaurant called Okonomiyaki Dan for dinner of octopus chow mein with grilled pork in a silky omelet, sizzling on the hot plate in front of us.

Having eaten safely, we were thrown into chaos again, only to stop for a refreshing sake at one of the many street bars, which were packed with people, huddled together for company and shelter. It really was the perfect start to my four night, four city tour of Japan’s best attractions.

After a fantastic night’s rest at the Zentis Hotel in Osaka, partly because of the great cocktail bar – you can’t go wrong with wasabi crumble or the signature River Gardens of gin, elderflower, shiso (native plant leaves), soda and lemon – I headed north for a totally slower-paced experience.

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