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“Eat until you drop” in Osaka, Japan’s food capital
In Osaka, food matters! The local phrase to describe the city’s culinary appetite is “kuidaore”, which roughly translates as “eat until you drop”, and visitors have a wide selection of places to eat and delicacies to try. The first stop on any gourmand’s tour of Osaka should be the dazzling Dotonbori district, where the streets are bathed in a warm neon glow and local eateries line the busy streets. But of course, local and international cuisine can be discovered all across this vast city and there are many traditional Osakan treats to try. Popular street snacks include takoyaki (grilled octopus balls), okonomiyaki (cabbage pancakes) and kushikatsu (deep-fried meat or vegetable skewers). But Osaka's most famous culinary export is teppanyaki, which sees skilful chefs grill meat, seafood and vegetables on a large metal plate in front of diners' eyes, creating a dramatic piece of culinary theater. In this huge conurbation, which is home to almost 20 million people, visitors have a huge number of things to see and sample – from ancient temples to world-class theme parks. But to find Osaka’s heart, you definitely need to satisfy your stomach! Book now at Best Western’s hotels in Osaka to discover everything this culinary capital has to offer.
Read More about Osaka
No trip to Osaka is complete without an evening stroll down the neon-lit streets of Dotonbori. Osaka's primary tourist and nightlife area is also the city's main culinary hub, with a wide variety of restaurants and food stalls lining the streets. You could spend hours simply gazing at the illuminated urban landscape, including moving billboards and elaborate signs, but visitors are well advised to cast off their inhibitions and take the plunge into Dotonbori's vibrant culinary scene. Choose from a vast array of local favorites, from restaurants specializing in crab and pork to lively teppanyaki grills, and everything in between. Dotonbori is located close to Namba Station.
Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan opened in 2001, becoming Asia's first Hollywood theme park. It now welcomes more than 10 million visitors each year, who flock to popular movie-based attractions such as The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Minion Park and Jurassic Park. Popular Japanese creations such as Hello Kitty and soon, Super Nintendo World, also add Asian flavor to this American attraction. Covering an area of 39 hectares in the Osaka Bay area, Universal Studios Japan is the country’s second most visited theme park after Tokyo Disney Resort, and the park is being revamped and expanded ahead of the 2020 Olympics.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Located in the Osaka Bay area, close to the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, Osaka Aquarium is one of Japan's most popular attractions. With almost 11 million liters of water across 15 tanks, the aquarium houses approximately 29,000 sea creatures with a focus on marine life from around the Pacific Rim. Zones include the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica, Monterrey Bay and the Seto Inland Sea. Exhibits comprise a wide variety of fish, sharks and rays, plus turtles, sea otters, giant Japanese salamanders, sea lions and penguins. But the biggest attraction is a huge whale shark, which takes center stage in the main Pacific Ocean tank.
The symbol of the city, Osaka Castle was built in the 16th Century and commands a prime place in the heart of the city, surrounded by verdant gardens and moats. The white, five-tiered structure is 40 meters high, but it is built on the top of a large raised stone platform which elevates the castle above the height of the surrounding walls and makes it visible from across the city. The castle grounds cover approximately 60,000m² and contain 13 structures that have been designated as Important Cultural Assets. Also within the grounds lies the Hokoku Shrine, which dates back to the late 1800s.
Originally founded in the 6th Century AD, Shitenno-ji is considered to be the first Buddhist temple in Japan and the country's oldest officially registered temple. It has been rebuilt and restored several times over the centuries, most recently in 1963, and now comprises an exquisite five-story pagoda, a golden pavilion, treasure house and lecture hall all set within beautifully landscaped grounds. Shitenno-ji is located in Osaka's Tennoji Ward, which also houses numerous other attractions including the Ikukunitama Shrine, Isshin-ji temple, Osaka Municipal Museum of Art and Tennoji Zoo. This area can be easily accessed via the Osaka subway network.
Located in the central Chuo-ku ward of Osaka, Shinsaibashi is the city's most popular retail area. A genuine shopper’s paradise, Shinsaibashi’s trading history dates back almost 400 years to the Edo Period. Nowadays, the area includes Mido-suji Avenue, which has been nicknamed the "Champs-Elysees of the East", Shinsaibashi-suji, a 600-meter-long covered shopping street, and America-mura, which focuses on the latest youth fashion and pop trends. The area houses many international brands, including an Apple Store, and luxury labels such as Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana and Giorgio Armani. Shinsaibashi is easily accessed via Osaka's subway network.
Floating Garden Observatory
Set on the 40th floor of the eye-catching Kuchu Teien Tenbodai towers (or Umeda Sky Building), the Floating Garden Observatory offers breath-taking 360-degree views of the city. The circular observation platform, which connects the two towers, is 170 meters above the city streets and can be accessed via an escalator the rises through a glass tube. There are several elements to the observatory, including the open-air Sky Walk, a 35-meter-long glass counter with high chairs, and the Cafe Sky 40, which serves casual food and drinks. Back on the ground, the building's basement houses the Takimi-Koji gourmet street with images of Osaka in the 1920s.
Den Den Town/Nipponbashi
Nipponbashi has grown to become Osaka's foremost electronics, anime and manga district. Centered on Sakaisuji Avenue, Den Den Town (as the area is nicknamed) is Osaka's equivalent to the popular Akihabara Electric Town in Tokyo, selling a vast array of specialist "otaku" products, from manga comics to consumer electronics. Highlights include a two-story outlet dedicated to the giant animated robot Gundam, and the famous Toranoana comic shop. There are also a large number of eateries and cafes, many of which continue the anime theme. Den Den Town can be accessed from Ebisucho Station on the Osaka subway.
Things to do in Osaka
Neighborhoods to Explore
- Kita and Umeda
- Minami (Shinsaibashi and Namba)
- Osaka Castle area
- Osaka Bay area
Top Things to Do In Osaka
- Explore the neon-lit streets and food stalls of Dotonbori
- Enjoy culinary theater at a teppanyaki restaurant
- Say a prayer for peace in the memorial hall
- Shop till you drop at Shinsaibashi-suji
- Take a ride on the Tempozan Ferris Wheel
- Enjoy amazing views of the city from the Floating Garden Observatory
- Check out the manga and anime scene at Den Den Town
- Take in the enchanting temples and parks of Tennoji
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