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Everywhere you should go in Osaka, Japan

Posted on August 20, 2017

Osaka (大阪, Ōsaka) is home to nearly 9 million people with an economy that exceeds both Hong Kong and Thailand. Osaka is known for modern architecture, shopping, nightlight and of course, delicious food. Check out the lists of things to do and eat while in Osaka.

Map of Osaka

Regions of Osaka

Order of Osaka itinerary

  1. Osaka Castle (大阪城, Ōsakajō) – Y600
  2. Asahi Beer Suita Factory
  3. Kita (北, “North”)
  4. Minami (南, “South”)

Kita (北, “North”)

  • Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル) – Y10,000
  • Osaka Station City
    • Grand Front Osaka (グランフラント大阪)
    • Yodobashi Camera Umeda
    • Hankyu Department Store
    • Whity Umeda
    • Tokyu Hands department store (東急ハンズ, Tōkyū Hanzu)
  • HEP (Hankyu Entertainment Park)
  • Kitashinchi District

Minami (南, “South”)

  • Shinsaibashi-suji
  • Midosuji
  • America-mura
  • Dotonbori
  • Ebisu-bashi Bridge
  • Hozenji Yokocho
  • Hozen-ji Temple
  • Nihonbashi (日本橋, “Japan Bridge”)
  • Nipponbashi Den-Den Town
  • Kuromon Market
  • Doguyasuji Arcade
  • Shinsekai (新世界)

Osaka Castle (大阪城, Ōsakajō)

osaka-castle

The castle tower is surrounded by secondary citadels, gates, turrets, impressive stone walls and moats. The entire Osaka Castle Park covers about two square kilometers with 600 cherry trees, lots of green space, sport facilities, a multi-purpose arena (Osakajo Hall) and a shrine. Great views from the park which is open to the public at all times but you can go inside the castle which opens at 9 a.m. for 600 yen which has a museum and observation deck on the top floor to admire the views over the city.

If you’re already planning to go to the more impressive and original standing Himeji Castle, you could skip this one or skip going inside as the museum can get very crowded.

Asahi Beer Suita Factory

asahi-beer-suita-brewery

A fun and free way to spend a few hours. The factory tour is free and very informative. Afterwards, you get to try 3 free beers, coolers or soft drinks. 15 minute walk from the station. Across from Asahi is the Katayama shrine. There’s also an Asahi shrine and Gyokurinji temple.

Kita (北, “North”)

Kita (北, “North”) district, also known as Umeda (梅田), is one of Osaka’s two main city centers. It is a business district so the restaurants around here will be packed on weekdays during lunchtime (noon to 1 p.m.). Beat the rush by eating before noon.

Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル)

osaka_umeda_sky_building

A 173 meter tall high rise building with two towers connected by a “Floating Garden Observatory” on the 39th floor. The observatory offers great views of the city through its windows and from its open-air deck. Get in line 45-60 mins before the sun is supposed to set to make sure you’re up at the top for this magical time of the day. Observation decks open at 10 a.m. and admission is 10,000 yen.

Osaka Station City

osaka_station_city

Rebuilt in 2011, this station is now one of Japan’s most attractive railway stations filled with shopping, entertainment and green spaces. It has a giant glass roof high above the train platforms. Osaka Station is literally surrounding by huge shopping malls and department stores.

  • Kamatakeudon – One of the best bowls of udon noodles in the city
  • Gozasoro – 80 yen wheel cakes with red or white bean filling. Located at basement of Hanshin Department store, next to Gogoichi Horai and Famous Ikayaki. Near Umeda station
  • 551 Horai’s Pork Dumplings (551蓬莱 豚まん) – 700 yen for 4 niku man /pork buns. Multiple locations. 3 in Shin-Osaka station. Two of them are outside of the gates as physical storefront where they make them on the spot.
  • Uncle Rikuro’s Shop – Freshly baked jiggly Japanese cheesecakes ¥648
  • Bake Cheese Tart – Hanshin Umeda
  • Pablo (焼きたてチーズタルト専門店) – Located at Shin-Osaka station, Umeda station by Whity and Dotonbori

Grand Front Osaka (グランフラント大阪)

grand_front_osaka

Part of the transformation of the former freight railyard north of Osaka Station into a new, modern city district. It is a large commercial complex with a wide variety of shops and restaurants, an Intercontinental hotel, office and event space, as well as a residential tower. Elevated walkways connect the multiple buildings of Grand Front Osaka to each other and to Osaka Station.

Yodobashi Camera Umeda

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Find all of the latest Japanese electronics. It’s a large shopping chain for not only home appliances made in Japan, but also products such as smartphones, figurines, cameras, cosmetics, watches, and designer bags. Tax-free service with English-speaking staff at the Umeda station.

Hankyu Department Store

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An enormous underground department store attached to the Umeda station with many floors and everything you need to shop for. There is a basement food hall with desserts, cakes, food and Japanese snacks. Tax refund counter located in the lobby.

Whity Umeda

whity-umeda

Experience one of Osaka’s famous “chikagai” (underground shopping malls) with Whity Umeda. It’s an underground shopping area that can be reached via the Umeda subway lines. Full of shoppers and commuters.

Tokyu Hands department store (東急ハンズ, Tōkyū Hanzu)

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This is one of the coolest all-around hobby and gadget shops in the world. They have all kinds of products, such as high-quality and high-functional livingware, convenient travel goods, Japanese stationery, topical beauty products, and tools and materials for DIY. At Shinsaibashi, Namba, and Umeda station.

HEP (Hankyu Entertainment Park)

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A large shopping mall for youth featuring giant whale sculptures and a red Ferris wheel. There are over 300 shops and restaurants.

Kitashinchi District

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Kitashinchi is the entertainment district in Umeda, north Osaka, with literally hundreds of bars, cafés, restaurants etc. Lots of business people go to relax after work. Very easy to walk to from Osaka and Umeda stations.

You can find the best restaurants and bars in Osaka here in Kitashinchi with more than 10-15 Michelin stars in this area. Save money by going during lunch time. They usually have a lunch set for around 10,00 yen on weekdays.

Minami (南, “South”)

Minami is Osaka’s shopping, dining and nightlife center – one of the city’s two downtowns. It’s a world of neon lights, colorful people and some of the best food on earth. Minami, which means “south” in Japanese, is Osaka’s number-two urban hub (after Kita/Umeda). Encompasses the districts of Shinsaibashi and Namba

Shinsaibashi-suji

shinsaibashi

One of Osaka’s famous shotengai (covered shopping arcades) which runs about 600 meters in length. There are brand name shops, chain stores, independent boutiques and a variety of restaurants.

  • Teuchisobaakari – Handmade soba are a cut above the usual fare and the ambiance is soothing. Look for the kanji 星on the sign.
  • Nishiya – Popular and long-standing udon restaurant. Look for the white curtains with black letters reading にし家.
  • Chibo Okonomiyaki
  • Jinen Sushi

Midosuji

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Osaka’s “main street,” Midosuji is a broad street that runs north/south right through the heart of Minami. All the major international luxury brands have outlets here, including Dior, Chanel, Armani and Louis Vuitton. If you dont plan to buy luxury stuff, you could skip this. Links to Shinsaibashi shopping street for more affordable items.

Amerika-mura

amerika-mura

“Amemura” to the locals, is located on the west side of Midosuji, just north of the Dotombori Canal. It’s Osaka’s version of Tokyo’s Harajuku made up of narrow streets lined with boutiques, thrift shops, and stores for urban apparel and hip hop wear. It’s a fun place to wander and there are plenty of bars and restaurants in the area.

Dotonbori

dotonbori

Named for the Dotombori Canal that runs through the middle of it, Dotombori is the colorful and crowded entertainment district located mostly on the east side of Midosuji. Be sure to take a selfie with the famous Glico Man neon sign.

Places to eat in Dotonbori:

  • Hariju – Prime Japanese beef shabu shabu and sukiyaki since 1948
  • Zuboraya – Fugu (blowfish), which is poisonous if not cut properly
  • Kukuru – Takoyaki octopus dumpling shop
  • Kani Douraku – Super popular crab restaurant with giant moving crab on its shopfront. Book in advance or you could be waiting 3 hours.
  • Gansokushikatsudaruma (元祖串かつ だるま なんば本店) – Kushikatsu is small fried food on a skewer normally priced between 70 – 150 yen.
  • Gyuukatsu Motomura (牛かつもと村 難波店) – Maybe you know tonkatsu (fried pork), but you need to try gyukatsu, which is fried beef! The beef is super tender and the outside is deep fried bread crumbs.
    • BIC Camera – Next door with PC, tablet, camera, mobile, Japanese rice cooker, or even Japanese toilet at duty free prices.
  • Ajinoya – Okonomiyaki
  • Matsuzakagyu Yakiniku M – Serves Matsuzaka beef, one of Japan’s most famous and prized brands of beef. Cramped and crowded but this is the yakiniku restaurant to go to!
  • Ichiran Dotombori – Ramen chain is famous for private booth seating, good for singles. Buy a ticket from the vending machine in front.
  • Mizuno Okonomiyaki – Prepare for long line

Ebisu-bashi Bridge

ebisu-bashi-bridge

This bridge takes you over the famous Dotombori Canal and the focal point of Dontombori. Lined with garish neon-covered buildings, the Dotombori Canal is the most iconic sight in all of Osaka. The bridge is also featured in the Dotonbori photo and cover photo for this blog post.

Hozenji Yokocho

hozenji-yokocho

A quiet oasis in the middle of Dotonbori’s madness. This is an old style shopping street with the Hozen-ji Temple. The lane is lined with traditional restaurants and shops and is one of the most beautiful streets in all of Osaka.

  • Kushikatsu Daruma – Deep fried kebabs of skewered meat fish and vegetables
  • Gekiryuu – Namba ramen shop specializes in bowls of ramen topped with heaps of vegetables and thick, rich pork slices. The noodles are thick and chewy as well. It’s a memorable bowl of noodles!

Hozen-ji Temple

hozen-ji-temple

Home to the moss-covered Mizu-kake Fudo statue. People splash water onto this statue to wish for luck – and now the statue is covered with a coat of moss.

Nihonbashi (日本橋, “Japan Bridge”)

nihonbashi-japan-bridge

It is a district considered as the “center of Japan” due to the bridge it’s named after which is the zero kilometer marker for Japan’s national highway network since the early Edo Period. Many of the buslting shops specialize in traditional crafts or local foods from across Japan, such as lacquerware, gold leaf, knives, chopsticks, sake, katsuobushi, seaweed and sweets. The Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) is located here and open to the public on trading days with free admission.

  • Tsuki no Odori – A cut above your typical yakitori joint. They serve all kinds of creative chicken dishes and they’re perfectly comfortable with foreign guests.

Nipponbashi Den-Den Town

nipponbashi-den-den-town

Considered “Osaka’s Akihabara”, Den-Den Town is the city’s electronics, camera, computer and pop culture shopping neighborhood. The only place in Japan where electronics prices are negotiable. It’s about a 10 minute walk southwest of Namba Station.

Kuromon Market

kuromon-market

Definitely a must-go if you love trying new foods! Sitting in the middle of Osaka, this is a covered shopping wet market with lots of fresh seafood. There are many Japanese restaurants, food stalls, grocery stands and micro bars for a quick drink. Pricing not cheap but it’s fresh and authentic. Better than Nishiki Market in Kyoto for the seafood and cheaper as well.

Try things like tako tamago, Kobe beef and scallop skewers, and fresh uni in a prickly shell. Quieter alternative to Dotomoburi and only a 10 minute walk away.  Stores start to close at 5 p.m.

  • PYJAMARAMA (パジャマラマ) – This shop has special curry called Aburi-karubi curry with very tender grilled beef rib and Negi-Suji curry which has chive and special part of beef.

Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street

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Osaka’s famous kitchen-supply street selling lots of cutlery, utensils, kitchen equipment and practically everything you need to fill a kitchen. There are also many restaurants and pharmacists selling almost all Japanese cosmetic brands. Great place to get practical souvenirs for good prices. Shops close at 5 p.m.

  • Fukutarou (福太郎) – Osaka’s favorite dish is okonomi-yaki. This place is rated top 5000 on Tablelog.
  • Ryukishin Rize – A bit of a walk south of Namba Station, but the shoyu ramen here is worth the journey. Noodles and soup are thick and rich. Look for the word “Rize” on the sign.

Shinsekai (新世界)

shinsekai

It has a reputation as one of Japan’s more seedy and dangerous neighborhoods with a higher crime rate. But mainly, you’ll just notice more homeless people and prostitution compared to other parts. Some people really enjoy it as a more charming area compared to Dotonbori with less tourists, less crowded and cheaper food.

There are lots of kushikatsu, takoyaki and sushi dining options. More shops are open during the day as opposed to night time, although some kushikatsu (battered and deep fried food on a skewer) eateries are open 24/7, which is one of Osaka’s best known specialties.

  • Tsutenkaku Tower – A great landmark which stands right in the middle of the area. Admission is 700+ yen.
  • Spa World – A huge bath complex with natural hot spring water. The pools are enjoyed naked and gender separated. Admission is 2400 yen for 3 hours.Okonomiyaki Chitose

Nightlife

  • Giraffe (ジラフ大阪) – If you want to go clubbing, try one of the biggest night club in Japan. It has 4 stories and closes at 1 a.m. Not allowed to sit unless you pay VIP. Don’t forget to bring your ID. Check the website to see if they have a special event happening. 3500 yen for all you can drink.
  • G3 – Choose 700 yen/drink or 3000 yen for all you can drink. Two floors but crowded dance floor. Opening hour of G3 is Business day: ~4am/ Friday and Weekend: ~5am! Graff and G3 is next to each other.

Day trips from Osaka

  • Arima Onsen (有馬溫泉) – Located near Kobe, it’s renowned as Japan’s oldest hot springs. In addition to relaxing your exhausted body, you also can eat nice traditional Japanese food. Takes about 1.5-2 hours to get there from Shin-Osaka Station.
  • Nara
  • Kobe
  • Kyoto
  • Hiroshima
  • Spa Land
  • Universal Studios

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