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The food capital of Japan, Osaka, is probably the most underrated city in the land of the rising sun. It is said that Tokyo has more power, Kyoto has more culture, Nara more history, and Kobe more style but Osaka has the biggest heart (V. Swarup) … and the best food for sure!
Osaka is the capital city of the Kansai region and the largest of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto trio. Osaka is famous for being the business center of Japan, but it also has a very rich history and unique culture! Osaka has roughly 3,395 temples which is the second most temples in Japan! The city is also home to many archeological ruins, ancient burial mounds, the most historical and retro buildings in Japan, and a large number of traditional events and festivals being held here every year.
Osaka was the capital of Japan many times due to its important port with lots of trade and business opportunities. Like many people, I find Osaka to be an endlessly fascinating place to visit. As well as all other places we visited during our trip to Japan, Osaka is also defined by its cultural curiosities that you can’t find anywhere else in the world. What we really loved about Osaka is that compared it has a great easygoing vibe and even a better food culture (or even cult!) that really resonated with us.
Where to Stay in Osaka
As you would expect from a major Japanese city, Osaka has no shortage of options when it comes to accommodation. As always, I’d suggest you stay somewhere central, to make accessing all the attractions as easy as possible.
The best places to stay in Osaka are Namba and Umeda. However, my suggestion would be to stay near Namba Station. from Namba station it is an easy 5-minute walk to Dotonbori Arcade, plenty of shops, cafes, restaurants and street food options.
You can find alternative hotels in Dotonbori here.
You can find apartments in Osaka here (Airbnb + up to 41 € off).
Read more reviews and compare Osaka hotel prices here.
Getting Around Osaka
Osaka has seven separate train and bus lines operating at modest transportation costs. The most common lines are Japan Rail West or JR West lines as they run the main route between the North (Kita) and South (Namba) of Osaka. Osaka also has three subway lines, taxis, and bike rentals which makes the city pretty easy to get around.
Suica is the best prepaid card that allows the travel by train, subway, and bus around Osaka. You can use your Suica for small purchases in convenience stores, vending machines, some small restaurants or for shopping at Osaka’s Airport too!
Japan has the most extensive network of train and subway line so travelling around Osaka with Suica is much easier than buying a single ticket each time! Believe me – buying a ticket from a ticket vending machine is not the easiest thing to do while there! Another tip: you can buy tickets or recharge your Suica only with cash! No credit or debit cards are accepted!
We bought our Suica card upon arrival at Haneda Airport. You have to pay a 500 yen deposit which you can get back when you are leaving Japan. Good to know is that you will get your deposit back only if you bring your Suica card to the same place where you bought it!
Universal Studios Japan
Long before traveling to Japan I already knew I was going to visit Osaka and one of the best attractions for movie junkies like us – Universal Studios Japan! Universal Studios Japan ranked Japan’s best theme park two years in a row, for a good reason. Universal Studio opened its doors to the public in 2001 and was the first Universal theme park to operate within the Asian region.
Universal Studios Japan is not the typical cultural experience in Japan but after 20 days of traveling around the country and visiting more than 30 temples and shrines, it was time for something new! Universal Studio is an American themed park but having in mind it is operating in Osaka, it will be no surprise that everything that’s happening inside the park will be in Japanese and not in English. So, don’t worry, you won’t forget the fact you are in Japan!
Find more informations about visiting Universal Studios Japan here:
This post is part of the series JapanOther posts in this series:Must Visit Places in…
Osaka Castle is probably the most iconic and popular attraction in Osaka, and therefore the most photographed one! The most famous building in Osaka is a reconstruction and the third incarnation of the original one. The original Osaka Castle was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi and was destroyed during the Natsuno Jin battle in 1615. A Tokugawa’s version of Osaka Castle was built on top of it but some 50 years later, even this initial reconstruction was destroyed in a fire caused by lightning.
You can even climb to the top of the castle and enjoy some great views over the city! Inside the castle you will find interesting exhibits about Osaka’s history. This landmark would be best to visit during the Cherry Blossom or Fall, but I found it to be beautiful during the summer months too! The ticket costs about 600 Yen each.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Kaiyukan is one of the world’s largest aquariums (11,000 tons of water) and is home to two whale sharks – the biggest fish in the world! There are different levels providing the feeling of descending deeper into the sea. The aquarium is also a home to many interesting smaller exhibits themed with different ecosystems from around the world like the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica, and Japan’s forests.
Umeda Sky Building
One of the best places to get a bird’s eye view of Osaka is the Floating Garden Observatory located 173 meters above the ground on top of the famous Umeda Sky Building! Believe me – the views and is totally gorgeous on a clear day! What you can also find here are many shops, restaurants, malls and cafes.
Dotonbori is my favourite District in Osaka, and the reason why we stayed in a hotel near Namba Station for 4 nights! This is also the most famous area in Osaka known for its incredible food culture, street food, neon lights, Dotonbori canal, the Glico Sign, and many interesting buildings.
The best time of the day to visit Dotonbori is during sunset and at night. Here you will find the coolest light and neon spectacles, as well as the craziest restaurants in whole city! Dotonbori is also the best place for dining in Osaka. And don’t forget – travelling throughout Dotonbori is a fun experience, and couldn’t be truly complete without trying the street food.! In this area, you will also find some great market stalls inside Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade.
Kuromon Ichiba Market
Kuromon Ichiba Market is one of the favorite places of locals and city’s chefs in Osaka, where they shop for the best and freshest seafood, otoro, oysters, octopus, unagi, etc. The reason for that – Kuromon Ichiba Market has some of the best food quality in Osaka but it is also cheap! Kuromon Ichiba Market has a pretty old history to share with its visitors as it has been here for around 170 years, preserving the food and culture of Osaka.
Shinsekai is a retro and very colourful downtown area of southern Osaka. The area is most famous for Tsutenkaku Tower, Janjan Yokocho Alley, and the giant blowfish in front of the most famous Fugu restaurant in Osaka. Shinsekai is one of the most interesting neighbourhoods in Osaka to visit as it has remained largely untouched over the years.
Shinsekai district was developed during the 1903 National Industrial Exposition, which brought over five million people to the neighborhood within just five months. At the beginning of the 20th Century Shinsekai became the home to many attractions and restaurants in the city. A great thing to do here is to visit some of the traditional Japanese-style pubs and cheap cafeteria-like restaurants.
Tsutenkaku is the symbol of Naniwa which is known as the Eiffel Tower of Osaka. The original Tsutenkaku was built in 1912 the tower that you can see nowadays was rebuilt after the World War II.
Sumiyoshi Taisha was founded in the 3rd century which makes it one of the oldest shrines in Japan. The reason why its architecture is so unique and different is that the shrine was constructed before the influx of Buddhism in Japan. Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of the most famous Buddhism spots you could visit in the entire country!
The temple area is located a bit outside central Osaka and is actually a very quiet spot to visit in the morning. What you can visit is the main shrine as well as many other smaller structures are dedicated to popular deities. The good news is that currently there is no admission fee to visit the shrine. The operating hours are from 6:00 to 18:00.
The Hozenji temple is a significant temple located in the very heart of Osaka near the busy and popular shopping and tourism street of Dotonbori. This temple is easily accessible as it is located very close to some popular city and commercial tourist areas like Namba Station and Dotonbori canal.
Even though the temple is located in a very buzzing area, the place is actually very peaceful and unique. There are no admission fees for visiting the temple and the operation hours are everyday between 7:00 and 17:00.
Founded in 593 by the prince Shotoku Taishi, Shitennoji Temple is the oldest official temple in Japan. The temple has many gates which are guarded by wooden statues known as Nio (Benevolent Kings). The stone torii gate at the main entrance to Shitennoji, dates from 1294 and is the oldest of its kind in the country. The 5-story pagoda was built 1400 years ago, but even nowadays you are allowed to climb to the top.
Shitennoji Temple played a leading role in introducing Buddhism to Japan. The name comes from “Shitenno” – the four heavenly kings of Buddhist tradition who guard the world from evil. If you are willing to visit the temple, you can visit 3 temple areas for free. If you also want to go and see Chushin Garan (the inner temple complex) the ticket costs 300 Yen for adults.
Food of Osaka
There is no coincidence that Osaka is known as the food capital of Japan and one of the ultimate food destinations in Asia. The city of Osaka smells delicious. Osakans love to cook, and even more to eat. The streets of Osaka are pitfalls for any passionate food lovers out there, searching for exceptional food and traditional Japanese specialities.
Japan is a food loving country with intense culinary culture and Osaka is the cherry on the top! Osakans are obsessed with eating and they even have a word for the outcome of this obsession called “kuidaore”. “Osaka no kuidaore” literally translated means the habit of eating till you drop, but the actual meaning is eating till falling into debt.
In this blog post, I’m going to share with you 6 must-eat-foods in Osaka and the places where you can try them. The biggest food areas in Osaka are Dotonbori, Umeda and Shinsekai, and believe me – a whole life won’t be enough to go through all the restaurants and street food stalls in Osaka!
Find more informations about what and where to eat in Osaka here:
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Enjoy the day!
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