Japan is undoubtedly a destination that most travelers explore to quench their thirst for culture, food, fashion, and life experiences. While Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hokkaido are high on the list of tourist preferences when it comes to touring the mystical land of the rising sun, Osaka exudes its charm, distinctively different from other cities, making it a hidden gem worth exploring.
Osaka is known for its vibrant street life, delectable food, warm and hospitable locals, and a rich mix of modern and traditional culture. Visiting this city is akin to embarking on a journey that appeals to our senses and leaves us with a lasting impression.
Whether you are an avid traveler or an occasional vacationer, exploring Osaka will undoubtedly become an iconic experience quickly. In this article, we attempt to cover the hidden gems of Osaka, top tourist attractions, and answer frequently asked questions to help you plan your trip and make the most of your stay.
Discovering Hidden Gems in Osaka – A Comprehensive Guide
Osaka Castle, also known as Osaka-Jo, is one of the most famous landmarks of Osaka that reminds you of its rich, cultural heritage. The castle was home to Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a powerful Japanese warlord who unified Japan in the late 16th century. Today, the castle complex features a museum, a nearly 400-year-old Nishinomaru Garden, and several eateries.
Umeda Sky Building
Located in the Kita district, the Umeda Sky Building comprises two 40-story towers that look like a UFO landing spot from afar. Inside, you’ll find an observation deck on the roof that offers a 360-degree view of Osaka and its stunning skyline.
Shinsekai, which translates to “new world,” is a vibrant, bustling district that has a distinctly retro feel. The area was built in 1912 and was initially designed to be an area of entertainment and nightlife for the locals. Today, you can find many traditional Japanese restaurants, karaoke bars, game arcades, and cabarets that have been in business for decades.
Located in the heart of the Shinsekai district, the Tsutenkaku Tower stands 103 meters tall and offers a panoramic view of Osaka from the observation deck. The tower was built in 1912 and was partially destroyed during World War II, but it was rebuilt in 1956 and restored to its original glory by 2007.
Namba Yasaka Shrine
The Namba Yasaka Shrine is a unique Shinto shrine that is dedicated to the god of protection from calamities and disasters. The shrine is famous for its giant lion head statue, which is the largest in Japan, measuring 4.5 meters high, 5 meters wide, and weighing around 1.5 tons.
Dotonbori is a vibrant, bustling district that is known for its street food, shopping, and nightlife. The area is especially popular at night when the neon lights come on, and you can hear the sounds of pachinko machines and karaoke bars wafting through the air.
Amerikamura (America village) is a unique district in Osaka that is known for its street fashion, Americana-inspired shops, and cafes. The area’s defining feature is the large, graffiti-covered wall that serves as a backdrop for many impromptu photoshoots.
Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan is an entertainment theme park that has become one of the most famous tourist attractions in Osaka. The park features a diverse range of attractions, including Harry Potter World, Jurassic World, Hollywood Dream roller coaster, and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Kuromon Ichiba Market
Kuromon Ichiba Market is one of the oldest and largest food markets in Osaka, where you can find a broad selection of fresh seafood, meat, fruits, and vegetables. The market is also home to many food stalls that sell authentic Japanese delicacies like takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and sushi.
Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is a Shinto shrine that dates back 1,800 years and is one of the oldest in Japan. The shrine features a unique architectural style that is distinctly different from other shrines, and it is dedicated to the gods of sea and sailing.
FAQs About Osaka:
Q: What is the best time to visit Osaka?
A: The best time to visit Osaka is during the spring (March to May) and autumn (September to November) months.
Q: How do I get to Osaka from Tokyo?
A: You can take a bullet train from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka station, which takes about 2.5 hours.
Q: What is Osaka famous for?
A: Osaka is famous for its street food, nightlife, and landmarks such as Osaka Castle and Dotonbori.
Q: What is the Osaka Amazing Pass?
A: The Osaka Amazing Pass is a travel pass that offers unlimited use of public transportation and free entry or discounts to many attractions, including Osaka Castle and the Umeda Sky Building.
Q: Is English widely spoken in Osaka?
A: While English is not widely spoken in Osaka, many locals are friendly and willing to help visitors.
Osaka is a vibrant city that is often overshadowed by Tokyo and Kyoto, but it has much to offer travelers who are looking to explore Japan’s lesser-known gems. From exploring landmarks like Osaka Castle and Dotonbori to enjoying local street food and shopping in America Village, Osaka promises a unique travel experience that is distinct in its own right. By referring to this guide, you can plan the perfect itinerary and make the most of your trip to Osaka!