Next mission: Street food adventures in Osaka

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So I’m sitting at my computer after lunch last Wednesday, waiting for the java to snap me out of my fog, when this email lands in my inbox.

“Aloha Mari, YOU’RE INVITED TO OSAKA!”

Wha—?

“Celebrate with Hawaiian Airlines as it launches its new daily flights to Osaka, Japan, on Tuesday, July 12.”

OMGOMGOMG. It’s one of those cupcake-and-popcorn moments, the universe bestowing a random act of kindness. In a not dissimilar scenario last January, Hawaiian accorded me a celebratory seat when it launched its new flights to Seoul. I went, I ate, I blogged, therefore I am … going to Japan!

And not just Japan: Osaka, a city I know next to nothing about. I know there’s a castle. And once when I was a reporter with the Associated Press in Tokyo, I got assigned to cover then-Governor Bill Clinton when he went to pitch Arkansas to Osaka investors. In the years since, I’ve come to learn that takoyaki (doughy balls of octopus goodness) and kushikatsu (luscious skewers of deep-fried goodness) were born in Osaka, and that — this is thrilling, people — the city is known as the kitchen of Japan!

Sushi! Ramen! Funky curry with an egg cracked on top! Museum of Instant Ramen, fish market stalls selling fresh-cooked and raw shellfish, I’m on it. You know what else? Osaka’s unofficial motto translates as “Eat until you drop.” Street food abounds — and in Japan this often means holes-in-the-wall where you eat standing — because people in Osaka are impatient. I’m feeling it, OMG, in my mind already Osaka and I are kindred spirits.

So I’ll go, I’ll eat and I’ll blog, and I’ll shoot quick videos besides. I’ll have major eating help from Burt Lum ( @bytemarks ), who’s blogging about his techie adventures, along with Esme Infante ( @esmeinfantenii ), who’s blogging about family activities, and Dallas Nagata ( @dallasnagata ), whose amazing photos you’ll see on this site. The flight will be livened by social media marketer Toby Tamaye ( @atmarketing ) and Hawaii Business magazine’s Jason Ubay ( @jubay ).

If you have any tips — anything delicious, anything different, or any advice — please send them my way. I’m leaving next Tuesday on a four-day mission to eat my way through the kitchen of Japan. I hope you’ll come along for the ride. I promise you, it’ll be oishii!