Osaka is the third largest city in Japan and is known for its history, food, architecture and other attractions. There is something in the city for everyone, from hipsters to history-buffs, otaku and cycling enthusiasts. Here are some of the reasons that Osaka is such a special place!
Among Osaka’s rich cultural heritage, you will find Hozenji Yokocho, an alleyway in the style of Imperial Japan in the 17th to 19th Centuries. This Edo-period alley is packed with restaurants, historical curiosities and traditional Japanese taverns (izakayas).
Another treasure in is the ancient Osaka Castle. The castle had a major part to play during many periods of Japanese history, especially in the 16th Century. This was a time when Japan was united as a nation. The castle today features a museum and beautiful park grounds.
For those interested in combining history and food, Osaka is also the home of instant noodles. The Instant Ramen Museum showcases the history, variety, and popularity of the modern staple.
Osaka is known as Japan’s kitchen for its tendency to produce mouth-watering delicacies. It is the home of Glico, Japan’s largest confectionary. It is also the home of a particular version of the Japanese cooking style Okonomiyaki, which consists of grilling basically anything on top of a few staples.
Osaka is also known for its mixed juice (which, unlike other places, comes with milk) and takoyaki (grilled octopus). You can even learn to cook Japanese delicacies through the Eat Osaka service in the city. Other delicacies include more fried stuff on bamboo skewers (Kushikatsu) and green tea shaved ice (Matcha Kakigōri).
Majority of the popular restaurants in Osaka are concentrated in Dotonbori, which is a great place to stay in Osaka for foodies.
With history, so too with music. Osaka is a cultural paradise when it comes to Japanese music. Foreigners are even able to learn taiko, or traditional Japanese drumming, at the Taiko Lab Osaka. In just one hour, you will be taken on a whirlwind tour of the instrument’s history and importance, while learning to play it along to a beat.
There are few places more jam-packed with cyclists in Japan than Osaka. For the tourist, it is advised to go to Cycle Osaka, a company which provides bikes and city tours. On one such tour, you will have the chance to see all gems of Osaka, including the Namba, the Osaka Castle Park and the Umeda Sky building. For those who bike alone, make sure to have internet on your phone. Renting a Japanese Pocket WiFi comes highly recommended
However, practice caution when biking. While it is the best way to get around, cycling in Osaka can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of people and other cyclists. This is especially true at those famous Japanese urban crossroads, with hundreds of hectic people bumping shoulders.
For one reason or another, hipsters tend to gravitate to the city of Osaka. Somewhere around the youth hangout known as Triangle Park, there are numerous clothing and records shops, selling everything from the latest sneakers to the oldest Beatles records. On Orange Street, further west, you can find various home and craft shops and trendy cafes. You will see a man bun or two.
Local craft beer venue Biotop features a nursery and coffee shop and it is a favourite place to while away the afternoon. Feel like dining on a roof. Visit nearby Cubierta for salad, pizza and other delicious meals.
If you are a fan of Japanese manga and anime, then Osaka is the place for you. The place is an absolute Otaku mecca. Whether your particular speciality is for old gaming, strange toys or monster-drenched manga, then visit Nipponbashi or Den Den Town. It is Osaka’s response to Akihabara in Tokyo.
In addition to all the food you can eat, history you can marvel at, manga you can read, craft beer you can chug, drums you can play and streets you can cycle, Osaka also offers numerous oddities that both tourists and non-tourists can enjoy.
Spa World is a massive complex with different levels for the various global spa-ing tradition. Universal Studios has a location in Osaka with a recent Harry Potter Installment. The giant Ferris wheel and the Umeda Sky Building are other noteworthy spots.
Definitely Worth a Visit
There are far too many special places in Osaka to mention in such a short piece, but a little exploration can get you a long way. Next time you are in the country (or even really the hemisphere), make sure to stop at Osaka for a few days. It is an experience like no other. Eat fried octopus balls on bamboo sticks, take a river cruise, and lounge in the trendy district. Osaka is a true Japanese paradise.