Explore Osaka

Explore Osaka
Osaka known as the “city of food” and historically has always been known as the gathering point. If you are pressed for time you can make Osaka a day trip from Kyoto or vice versa, but most people find there’s far too much to eat for just one day!

Osaka is Japan’s second largest city, with a population of over 18 million, and is the heart and capital of the Kansai region. Osaka was originally the capital city of Japan, dating all the way back to 645 when Emperor Kotoku reigned. 600 years later, in 1496, Japan’s most famous castle was constructed – the Osaka Castle. The castle’s unique construction is built on two rock mounds and surrounded by moats. From the outside it appears to have 5 floors but on the inside it actually has 8.

Osaka is divided into uptown (Kita) and downtown (Minami) areas. Umeda is the area to venture for shopping and Minami (south) is known for Namba and Shinsaibashi, Dotonbori street- where food and entertainment are abundant. For the technology/gamer/anime traveller, the Nipponbashi Den Den Town is the place to check out. There are high-rises devoted to the latest gaming promotions, arcades, and of course shopping.

Port of Kobe
Takoyaki
Shitennoji Temple

Places to Visit in Osaka

  • Umeda Sky Building and Umeda
  • Umeda Joypolis Sega – Two floors of video games
  • Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan – One of the largest aquariums in the world.
  • The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum – complete with a factory view!
  • Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Unique Things to See and Do in Osaka

  • Visit Osaka Castle – Constructed in the 1400′s
  • Shop Shinsaibashi – a large upscale shopping district
  • View Sumiyoshi-Taisha Shrine – Built in 211, the oldest shrine in Japan
  • See Shitennoji Temple – the first Buddhist temple built in Japan
  • Stroll Hozenji Yokocho Alley – a narrow stone path behind Hozenji Temple
  • Visit Hozenji Temple – A favourite temple known for the mossy god of fury

Osaka’s Cuisine

Street food delight! Osaka is known for its street food, so much so they have a word for it, Kuidaore (食い倒れ ) ”eat until you drop.” The word is taken from a longer proverb, ”Dress (in kimonos) till you drop in Kyoto, eat till you drop in Osaka” (京の着倒れ、大阪の食い倒れ).” The point being is that you need time to eat a lot, but the good news is that it’s cheap! In the 1600s, the government allowed for a new merchant class to do business, but there were so many restrictions that the merchants could only focus on food, entertainment, and bars. And that’s exactly what they did.

There are a couple of famous spots, like Kani Doraku Honten- the crab spot! You can’t miss it. There’s a huge mechanical crab signboard above it. Dontobori street is covered with elaborate signs and “dizzying neon.” So what types of food do you put on your list? Well, there are so many to choose from that we had to put a short list together.

  • Kinryu Ramen - Kyushu-style tonkatsu (pork broth) ramen. Look for the dragon!
  • Gyoza – the perfect Japanese dumpling
  • Creo-Ru Takoyaki- batter, green onion, octopus tentacles, tempura bits, red ginger
  • Kani Doraku (restaurant chain) Seafood, crab legs, Crab miso- crab brains,
  • Kushikatsu – skewers, dipped in batter, breaded, deep fried (800-200Y) served with Beer – only dip once!!
  • Tamago Fuwafuwa – eggs in soup stock, served in a pot, unusual fluffy egg dish.

Did you know…?

That Osaka has cafes where people can play with kittens!

Kitten cafes

Did you ALSO know…?

That when sharing food it is impolite to take from the main dish. You always put your food on your own plate.

Hot Pot Sharing

Etiquette Tip: Before eating you say, “Itadakimasu” and the restaurant server will say, “Gochisosama deshita”

Getting around Osaka

Travelling to Osaka
By Train
From Tokyo, you can ride the JR Tokaido Shinkansen (high-speed bullet train) to Osaka (Shin-Osaka Station. If you have purchased a Rail Pass in Tokyo, one round trip train ride is almost the equivalent to a 7 days pass. There are a few different train routes you can take, all with varying arrival times depending on the speed and number of stops along the way. Other than Shinkansen, which takes about 3 hours, you travel by Hikari (3 hours) or by Kodama (4 hours)

By Bus
From Tokyo, you can take either a night bus or day bus. Travelling by bus is cheaper than taking the train, however, it takes 9 hours instead of 3. For women travelling alone at night, there is a women’s only bus with JR Dream night buses

Travelling Around Osaka
Travelling around the city is the easiest by subway lines and trains. The city is divided into to two city centrals, North (Kita) in Umeda Station, and South (Minami) around Namba Station. The subway system is easy to navigate and is colour coded. See our Explore Japan for our Travel Tips on transportation- download Hyperdia!

If you are going to hit as many tourist spots as possible, then pick up the Osaka Unlimited 1 Day or 2 Day pass. This pass is great, it gives you access to all the subways, city buses, and private railways. Plus it gives you free entrance to 25 main tourist spots, such as the Osaka Castle, and Shitennoji Temple. You many want a tour guide to take you to hot spots though- to learn more about each place, so this is a great pass for the spots you didn’t have on your “have-to” list. Tip: when purchasing passes you must have your passport.

Etiquette Tip: Before eating you say, “Itadakimasu” and the restaurant server will say, “Gochisosama deshita”

Best time of year to travel to Osaka

If you are planning a trip to Osaka then chances are you are visiting other cities in Japan at the same time, so it might be best to consult our Explore Japan page for a few more details. The shoulder months are the easiest for most travellers as they offer slightly cooler temperatures but still have warm sunny days. During the summer months, Osaka can get quite hot and humid. From about June to late September, the temperatures range 27 C up to a high of 33 C and then back down to 25 C. From June to mid July is the rainy season, and Typhoon season is in August and September. When a Typhoon rolls in, it usually happens out a sea, but the land areas experience 1-2 days of high winds and then it clears up.

Weather in Osaka

In Osaka you can experience all four seasons. In the winter time the temperatures can drop to below freezing and be quite chilly, but it does not usually snow. In the spring time the cherry blossom turn the city into a beautiful pink with moderate temperatures. Osaka’s autumn is also moderate, with temperatures ranging from warmer to cooler as winter approaches (from 25°C down to 9°C). The summer months, July and August, are hot and humid. The temperature ranges from 25°C to 35°C with about 60% humidity.

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