Osaka is Japan’s commercial capital and third largest city. While at first glance it might seem like an endless expanse of neon and concrete, look closer at its bylanes and markets and bustling streets, because this is where the soul of Osaka resides.
The city is, however, known best for its food. The famous okonomiyaki and conveyor-belt sushi are inventions of this land, and continue to be a hot favourite even today.
There are numerous sights that you can’t miss here. Like the Osaka Castle. Rising majestically from above a canopy of beautiful trees, it stands on the site of a temple called Ishiyama Hongan-ji. It is nine storeys tall with a five-storied donjon, and adorned with motifs of large, golden sea creatures on the top. This 20th century castle has charming stone walls, gates, turrets, secondary citadels and extensive lawns surrounding it.
The Tsutenkaku, or the “Tower Reaching Heaven” is another iconic landmark of Osaka. While the original tower, built in 1912 resembled a mutated Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe, the current tower rises to 103m with a main observation deck from where you will get a panoramic view of the city. Don’t miss the tower all lit up at night, showing the next day’s weather forecast.
Umeda, also called the Kita, is one of Osaka’s two main city centres. While it’s a busy commercial district, you’ll be pleased to discover a vast expanse of underground shopping malls, as well as numerous choices for dining, lodging and entertainment. When you’re at Umeda, stop to take a look at the Umeda City Station, one of the most attractive railway stations in the country. The recently built skyscraper, the Grand Front, will give you enough to look at or keep busy for an entire day. For a change of pace, visit the Tennoji Zoo or the Shitennō-ji Temple, the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan.
Kita’s counterpart, Minami, is a bustling centre with interesting alleys and specialised stores and bright lights. The Namba area here is Osaka’s town of entertainment, with abundant options for dining and shopping. Dotonbori is the most popular street, running parallel to the Dotonbori-gawa Canal on the downtown side of Namba. It’s where you should be, if you want to take in the sights and scenes of Osaka, and taste some of its amazing culinary offerings.
Around Dotonbori, prepare to be amazed by giant signs of moving crabs, dragons, puffer fish and the like. This is where you can fully revel in a gastronomic adventure. Explore regional cuisine like okonomiyaki – savoury pancakes filled with cabbage, and a topping of your choice, takoyaki or octopus dumplings, udon noodles and regional sushi and other traditional Japanese foods.
Osaka is a colourful, modern city, which still carries the charm of the 17th century. It is an interesting mix of old-world appeal and contemporary chic that is best discovered at night, when the locals venture out for delicious food and a good time.
If you are planning to visit Osaka in Japan, do not hesitate to contact your luxury travel designer Mr. Isao Numano.