Osaka is called the "Venice of Japan" because the city is pierced by many river arms and human-made canals with more than 100 bridges across them. It is referred to as the "culinary capital of Japan" because its cuisine is exceptionally diverse, and local chefs stand out for their skills. Osaka is the busiest and most cheerful city in Japan, the most striking and vibrant. It amazes with its original architecture and the kindness of the locals. Osaka is mesmerizing!
Districts of Osaka
Tennoji District is known for its beautiful park and Shitennō-ji Temple.
Attractions of Osaka
Osaka amazes and stuns with its uniqueness and originality. Medieval Kishiwada Castle, located in the Kishiwada area and the modern Maritime Museum, the dome of which is carried into the sea, a unique airport, built on an artificially-created island, an abundance of Buddhist temples, both large and tiny, the delightful Tennōji Park — this beautiful city has something to show to every traveler.
The city's favorable geographical location (access to the waters of the Seto Inland Sea and the intersection of overland trading routes) predetermined its transformation into the central commercial hub of the country.
There was also a short period of decline in the history of the city. Still, in 1496, the Ishiyama Hongan-ji monastery was built on the site of the half-destroyed imperial palace. A new town was formed around it, named Osaka ("large slope").
Osaka has survived more than one sectarian war, and the city has almost always remained Japan's main trading center. In turn, trading contributed to the development of culture and the arts. Osaka is home to the Kabuki Theater, the Bunraku Puppet Theater, and ukiyo-e prints.
After the Meiji Restoration (1868 - 1889), Osaka only benefited in the end. Japan became an open country, which gave a new boost to trading and manufacturing.
Since then, the city had only once experienced serious upheaval when it was thoroughly destroyed by American bombing during World War II. After the war, Osaka did not only rebuilt itself but also continued to develop rapidly.
Nowadays, the city is one of the major pillars of the Japanese economy that often hosts various international forums. For example, in 1970, it held an international exhibition Expo (another one will happen in 2025), and in 2019, the G20 gathered in Osaka.
Before the trip, you should calculate the approximate budget that you will require for the travel:
The best time to visit Osaka
Autumn is another great time to visit — the scenery in Japan at this time is a pure miracle.
In the Kishiwada area, one of Japan's most colorful festivals, the Danjiri Matsuri is held every autumn. The festive procession begins at the gates of Kishiwada Castle. The Japanese, dressed in bright attire, drag huge carts — Dangiri (that look like temples) — along the streets. Some carts can even be two-storied. The original meaning of what is happening is a prayer to the deity Inari for an abundant harvest of rice.
In Osaka (at least in its center), the streets are located from north to south and from west to east. In their names, in the first case, "suji" is added, and in the second case, they use "toori". Remember, this helps to navigate.
Osaka is very clean, despite the lack of trash cans. It's a habit here to take every piece of paper with you and throw it away at home.
The best way to get around the city is by subway. There are a lot of cars in Osaka, and they literally fill the city during rush hours. You can get caught in terrible traffic jams.
Shopping is better in the morning or afternoon. In the evening, supermarkets are filled with locals coming from work, crowds, and queues are inevitable.
It's the quickest and most profitable way to exchange currency at the airport. Exchange machines charge a very high commission, and this operation is very bureaucratic and time-consuming in banks.
What should you do in Osaka?
- Admire the samurai castle. It is truly a grandiose monument of medieval Japan. Its total area is one square kilometer. The castle has eight floors — five of them are above ground while the remaining three are underground. Now it is reconstructed, there is a museum, and the main building is equipped with elevators. A park surrounds the castle, and when the cherry blossoms, it gets a completely fantastic view.
- Visit the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, the largest in Japan and one of the largest in the world. The main aquarium has a capacity of 11,000 tons and is home to 30,000 marine creatures. It is located on eight tiers, each of which represents a separate ecosystem. The two whale sharks are the queens of this water kingdom, the largest living fish in the world.
- To climb the Cosmo Tower, or at least look at it from a distance. This is the name of the World Trade Center Building. It is 256 meters in height, and there is an observation deck at the top. Just imagine the view that opens up from there! By the way, a high-speed elevator will get you upstairs in only 80 seconds.
- See the Umeda Sky Building. This original construction, 173 meters in height, consists of two towers that are connected to the so-called "floating garden of the observatory" at its top. An elevator will take you to the 35th floor, and an escalator, the highest in the world, will take you to the 40th floor, which also offers an observation deck.
- Visit the National Museum of International Art. Its collection of more than 5,000 works of art, mostly from the XX century, displays the paintings by Cezanne, Picasso, Kandinsky. The museum is interesting not only for its exposition but also for its structure — three of its four floors are underground. And the above-ground part is decorated with a magnificent futuristic installation of huge shining pipes.
- Have a rest in Universal Studio Park. This is an area of entertainment with many attractions, all linked to the films of Universal Film Studio. The park is quite comparable in scale to Disneyland. There are so many different attractions in it that it is impossible to explore everything in one day.
- Watch a play at the Bunraku National Puppet Theater, which originated in Osaka. It used to be an entertainment for the lower classes, and nowadays, the theatre is a national treasure. And where can you get acquainted with it, if not in Osaka?
- Treat yourself to exotic dishes. In Japan, Osaka is called the "kitchen of the nation". Restaurants in the city, particularly on the famous Dotonbori Street, offer hundreds of different dishes from crabs, octopuses, all kinds of fish (including fugue), sea urchins, meat, and, of course, rice, and noodles. There are at least 95 restaurants mentioned in the Michelin Guide in Osaka alone! Japanese delicacies can be tasted not only there, but also at the very democratic Kuromon Ichiba Market. The chefs there also know their business. Osaka is a gourmet paradise!
- Take a stroll through the city's shopping areas. Above all, it's the Shinsaibashi shopping stalls. This is a 600-meter-long indoor space, with a variety of high-end and democratic shops. You can buy literally everything here. However, there are a lot of shopping opportunities in other parts of Osaka.