Japan’s “second city”, the inimitable Osaka. Founded more than 1400 years ago, Osaka has continuously served in its role as Japan’s most active trading hub. But more than just a place of business, Osaka is a center of culture that can only be described as “Kansai”.
Places to visit in Osaka
Abeno Harukas rules over the southern district of Osaka, Tennoji, at an impressive 300 meters above street level. It offers a great view of Osaka and at its base, more shops than could be visited in an entire week in the Kintetsu Department Store (Japan’s largest).
The Osaka Aquarium, popular among Japanese and foreigners alike, collects the many different marine species of the Pacific rim and shows them off in fifteen grand displays. The central tank—several stories tall—has some spectacular specimens, including a massive whale shark.
Kuromon Market has operated for over 190 years and is a popular market among Osakans. Much like Nishiki, of Kyoto, Kuromon market is Osaka’s kitchen.
Namba (or Shinsaibashi) lies in Osaka’s center. This lively area is home to Dotonbori, a neon lit street filled with restaurants, shops, and all kinds of interests and oddities.
Osaka Castle and Park
Osaka-jo Koen, quite literally Osaka Castle Park. Not unlike New York’s Central Park, this area serves as the main playground for the local people. During the weekends and festivals expect to see many Osakans out enjoying a picnic or a stroll. At the park’s center lies the main event: Osaka-jo. Though it is a reconstruction, this iconic landmark tells the story of Japan’s unification under Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Osaka Museum of History
Osaka Museum of History gives an extensive history of Japan from the earliest days of the first empire through the late Showa period. Among the exhibits scale models of historical artifacts. The top floor offers a good view of Osaka castle as well.
One of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan Shitennoji Temple, constructed in the 6th century and continuously occupied since then. Enjoy a walk in the beautiful garden, or, when open, visit the treasure house to view some of the temples relics.
Tennoji and Tsutenkaku
Tennoji makes up what could be called South Osaka. Whereas the area of Umeda, around JR Osaka station is home to many upscale restaurants and shopping experiences, Tennoji represents a far more playful outlook. Home to Japan’s tallest skyscraper (Abeno Harukas), there is also a large zoo, major shopping complex, and Tsutenkaku, which is Japan’s version of the Eifel Tower—located in Shinsekai, which is a great place to stop and eat.
Den Den Town
The area of Nipponbashi (nicknamed Den Den Town) has long been known for its cheap electronics and appliance stores. Similar to Tokyo´s Akihabara district, the area also features so-called “otaku” (geek) culture such as anime, manga, cosplay and games.
Visit the Taito arcade centre where it is possible to play an array of arcade games such as crane games, music games or fighting games. A visit to “Super Potato” where retro games are sold is also highly recommended.
Osaka’s Sumiyoshi Taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine) is one of the oldest Shinto shrines of Japan. Founded in the 3rd century before the introduction of Buddhism, it has a pure Japanese style of architecture with no sign of mainland Asian influence. One of the kami (deities) enshrined here is the mysterious and legendary Empress Jingū of Japan who reigned from 201-269.
Daimon Sake Brewery
Visit a 190 year old sake brewery located in the countryside and meet the 6th generation master brewer who has taken over his family tradition. Join a private tour of the brewery and taste several kinds of their premium Japanese sake. To enrich the experience, the brewery prepares complimentary foods which fit with each sake type. One of the most important aspects of sake brewing is the quality of the water. The brewery is blessed with surrounding mountain streams delivering naturally filtered quality water rich in minerals, enabling them to produce high quality sake unique to the region.