Once the first capital of Japan, this food-loving, shopaholic city aims to please its visitors. The perfect destination for families or on your own, modern, beautiful and eclectic Osaka boasts everything you want from Japan – and even a few bonuses.
If you’re travelling with kids or you’re a big kid yourself, Osaka’s Universal Studios Japan theme park is sure to impress. The first of its kind in Asia, tourists are able to walk through Hollywood, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and many more spectacular sections. There are amusement rides on offer from carousels to rollercoasters and there are also daily shows, including a night parade of beautiful bright floats.
To get amongst the lively Japanese culture a visit to Dotonbori, one of the main tourist areas in Osaka, is a must. It is renowned as the city’s entertainment and nightlife hub, with some restaurants open 24 hours. Located picturesquely parallel to the Dontonbori Canal, it is spectacular to visit at night with its ubiquitous neon lights.
For some sightseeing, the Osaka Castle, which has been destroyed and rebuilt for centuries, is a real gem of a historical site. It now has a museum that tells the story of the castle’s history and its creator, Emperor Hideyoshi. Nearby is the Nishinomaru Garden, which is particularly popular and stunning during April’s cherry blossom season.
Eat and Drink
Welcome to foodie heaven! Osaka is renowned in Japan and abroad as the country’s food capital; it is even nicknamed “the nation’s kitchen”. It is a saying that the people of Osaka spend more on food than anything else and the quality of their dishes is considered to be of the utmost importance to locals.
Regional cuisine includes takoyaki (octopus doughnuts) and okonomiyaki (a pancake-like dish filled with meat or fish and vegetables). Teppanyaki-style cooking is very popular in restaurants in Osaka, whereby chefs prepare, cook and serve dishes in front of the customer for the freshest result. The famous Dotonbori district is considered the best place to experience Osaka’s food culture.
Where to Stay
When staying in central Osaka you have two central districts to pick from – the northern Umeda district and the Namba district in the south. Bustling Umeda boasts a number of convenient public transport options such as the JR Osaka and the Umeda train stations. It is also close to most of the city’s main buildings and tourist attractions.
Uptown Osaka (known as the Kita district) is also in the northern region and boasts hundreds of hotels, restaurants and shops. The lively Namba district is home to the city’s entertainment and nightlife centres: the Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi areas.
Osaka is definitely a shopper’s paradise. Uptown Osaka, known as the Kita area, and south-central Osaka, known as the Minami area, are the major shopping hubs. Osaka’s premier shopping centre is considered the Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade. The arcade is 600 metres long and has an extensive range of designer boutiques and luxury department stores.
To see Japanese fashion in all its eccentric glory, visit the trendy Amerikamura shopping district, which is considered the Harajuku of Osaka. In Osaka’s bay area is the Universal Citywalk Osaka shopping mall with multiple levels and stores selling Universal Studios merchandise as well as souvenirs.
Osaka Like a Local
To see a quainter side to life in Osaka you can venture out of the city on a 90-minute drive to visit the picture-perfect village of Chihaya Akasaka. Here you’ll get a glimpse into rural life in the Japanese countryside and can partake in the simple pleasures of the local people such as fishing rainbow trout and visiting the morning markets.