With over 2,8 million inhabitants, Osaka is Japan’s third largest and (after Tokyo) second most important city. The city is only 30 minutes away from it’s refined little brother Kyoto, however there is a world of difference between the two. Osaka is a modern, big and flashy city, with huge neon lit buildings, elevated highways, interesting architecture and… beautiful green parks.
We really enjoyed Osaka (maybe because there are many similarities with our hometown Rotterdam?). Therefore we’d like to share our favorite areas with you!
When in Osaka, make sure to visit:
– Umeda district
A fine piece of architecture: Umeda Sky Building
The Umeda Sky Building is a 173 meter tall marvel. It’s a real must visit if you like modern architecture and panoramic views. The building consists of two main towers which are connected with each other by an observatory platform, called the “Floating Garden Observatory”. The platform offers an astonishing 360 degrees city view, which is worth every of the 800 yen admission fee. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
Location: JR Osaka Station or Umeda Subway Station. Walk into the direction of Umekita Plaza (head north), a shopping area with very luxurious shops in stunning modern buildings. Take the underground passage on your left. The entrance is in front of the Grand Front Osaka South building.
Grand Front Osaka
Not far from the Umeda Sky Building, you find the impressive commercial centre Grant Front Osaka. Connected with an elevated walkway with Osaka Station, the south building of Grant Front Osaka houses, next to an astonishing fashion stores, three floors of top class restaurants.
The South Building offers the Panasonic center, here you can experience the latest and future technology.
Umekita Plaza -shopping district
-Dotonbori Street for shopping
Probably Osaka’s most popular and famous tourist spot: the shopping and food walhalla Dontonbori. The area is best visited by night, when the hundreds of neon signs will blind you.
Also at night, Dontonbori Street changes into a street food heaven: here you are able to taste Japanese home cooking at its best.
Japanese delights at Kuromon Market
Our apartment (Air B&B) was located in Nippinbashi Denden town area, which is known for its electronic appliances (similar to Akihabara in Tokyo). Not far from this area, you find Kuromon Market. This lively market is the place to be when it comes to sampling Osaka’s typical food. We enjoyed a fresh tuna dish with sesame and soy cause. Very simple, yet absolutely amazing! A must try is Takoyaki: a ball-shaped Japanese snack made of a wheat flour. It’s typically filled with octopus and topped with Worcestershire sauce, mayonnaise and ‘tenkasu’ (tempura scraps).
– Central Osaka for its green areas and Osaka Castle
A laid back park at the riverside: Nakanshima Park
Walking from our hotel all the way up to the riverside, we were surprised to find a beautiful park where a beer festival was hosted, Osaka Beer Picknick. Walk around the park, relax and enjoy how families spend their time in the weekends.
Splendid views at Osaka Castle
Started in 1580, it took one hundred thousand workers three years to build Osaka castle. Then, 32 years later, the castle was destroyed and it took 10 years to rebuilt it again. The construction was ruined once more in 1868. The present castle is a reconstruction built in 1931.
On the 8th floor of the castle is an observation deck with 360-degree views. The castle is surrounded by a beautiful park. This is known to be one of Osaka’s most popular spots during the cherry blossom season, which takes place in April. However, even if you’re visiting Osaka in any other season, Osaka Castle should not be missed when visiting this cool Japanese city.
Osaka Castle: www.osakacastle.net
Shopping and coffee at America Mura
We accidentally walked into this youthful area with lots of stores selling vintage and hipster clothing, apparel and music records. The area has a couple of nice coffee bars, trendy restos and lunch bars where the youngsters queue during lunch time.
Some cool places we visited in this district:
Lilo Coffee Roasters
Lovely coffee bar where you can relax at a small terrace and enjoy a good cup of coffee. They also have a tasty chai latte on the menu and delicious sandwiches.
Address: Nishi-shinsaibashi Chuo-ku Osaka
Organic Burger Kitchen
Located inside the shopping mall OPA, serving very tasty burgers. The restaurant has a nice terrace where you can sit down, eat your burger and check out the cool Japanese youngsters passing by, wearing creative outfits.
Address: 1F Shinsaibashi OPA, Nishi-shinsaibashi Chuo-ku Osaka