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Article by Ed
Osaka is split roughly into downtown and uptown areas known as Kita (North) and Minami (South).
•Kita/North area has the famous Umeda area which is the business district of Osaka with large skyscrapers and buildings. It also has Osaka Station city, which is pretty much a city itself as it is massive, with a huge subterranean network of shopping and restaurant arcades. Basically a city underneath a city.
•Minami/South is more of a ‘downtown’ area. It’s actually more to the centre of Osaka and contains most of the fun stuff.
Osaka is my favourite big city in the world. It has such a fantastic vibe, atmosphere and energy. The people are really friendly (which Osaka is actually famous for all over Japan) and there are loads to explore and do. Here is my guide, as always from the point of a local, on what to do in Osaka.
Namba, which is the 'south district' is one of two main central areas of Osaka, the other being Umeda, which is the 'North District' (Kita). More information on Umeda is further down on this page. In the centre of Namba is Dotonbori, which is what Oxford Circus is to London, and Times Square is to New York. You can spend a day or two at least, exploring all that Namba has to offer.
Dotonbori is located in the heart of Namba. The Dotonbori canal runs right through it and the Dotonbori Bashi is a great place to come and visit, especially at night time, as the electronic advertising boards and signs illuminate the area rather like Piccadilly Circus or Times Square. The atmosphere is fantastic and you will find loads of great restaurants, bars and other entertainment. The area was originally a theatre district and is now characterised by its incredibly vibrant atmosphere and bustle. Explore around Dotonbori and you Japanese food dreams will be fulfilled!
By the way, if you want to read my article on the best places to eat in Osaka, click here.
Ah, this is one of my favourite activities in Osaka. Japan has some pretty epic Gemusen (Game Centres)... that’s literally a shortening of the Japanese English pronunciation of Game centre!
But this game centre is my favourite because along with cool arcade games and dance evolutions etc, there is Karaoke, AND Spo-cha, which is a shortening of Sport challenge. Basically, you pay around 2000 yen per person and you get an hour and a half to do loads of different fun sports in the game centre. Trampolining, baseball batting, airgun shooting, roller skating, Zorb football and basketball are among some of the games. It’s even more fun if you’re drunk (Drink responsibly kids).
It is in Namba, so a great place to check out if you’re in the area or strolling around Dotonbori.
One of my favourite places in Osaka. Often Nicknamed ‘Denden town’ (Den is the shortened version of ‘Denki’ which means electricity in Japanese) it's literally an area/district entirely devoted to electronics, gadgets, anime, gaming and ‘otaku culture’ - geek/nerd culture. You will find countless stores selling fun Japanese action figures, hobby stuff, anime magazines and DVDs, loads of games consoles including classic Nintendo etc, electronic gadgets, and other stuff that might be actually useful like TVs and computer spare parts etc. It is great fun and I highly recommend taking a stroll around here. The area is a kilometre or so in length and will amuse you for the afternoon! You can also find good food here, and the famous maid cafes, which are an altogether strange experience.
Nippombashi back streets. You can find countless tool shops and spare part shops. Fun place to explore!
At the centre of the famous reputation of Osaka being Japan's kitchen, is the Kuromon Ichiba Market. An arcade market that stretches almost 600 meters, it really is the one market you need to check out if you're into great fresh food and produce. Restaurateurs, chefs, locals, and anyone in the area will come and get fresh produce from here as there is so much great selection. You can get anything from fruits, veggies, condiments, pretty much anything Japanese food-related here, and also great street food as well. Located in Nippombashi, in the Namba area, it's easy to get to if you are walking around Denden town and other places in Namba.
Clams? Oysters? Some sort of shellfish... Welcome to Japan. The land of tons of unidentifiable seafood.
Another great market/arcade located a few minutes walk from Namba station. Here you will find more kitchen utensils, tools and hardware. They also have a few Knife shops and makers that sell the finest of Japanese kitchen and hunting knives.
Umeda is the ‘north district’ (Kita) and is one of two of Osaka’s major city centres, the other being Namba, the south district (Minami). Umeda is the big business and commercial hub of Osaka, and most of the big offices and department stores are here. It is a great place to explore if you love a bustling cityscape. Below are some fun things to do in Umeda.
►Price Range: Adults: ¥1,500, Age 4-12 ¥700
►Location: Kita-Ku, Osaka
Located in Umeda district of Kita-ku, the Umeda Sky Building is the nineteenth-tallest building in
Osaka prefecture standing at 173 meters.
The building consists of two towers that connect at the very top with bridges and escalators crossing
in the centre.
The sight from the rooftop “Sky Walk” offers a breathtaking 360-degree view of Osaka’s cityscape,
even as far as Awaji Island can be seen on a clear day.
If you wish to commemorate your visit, bring a lock and key! It can be attached to the “Heart Lock”
fence on the corner of the rooftop.
When you start to feel hungry, make your way down to the basement floor where you’ll find the
Takimi-Koji. Here you’ll find a variety of hidden restaurants, as well as a street that replicates a
townscape dating back to the Taisho period.
Fancy your hand at a bit of cheeky baseball? Then go check out Batting Dome in Umeda. A bit like a Golf driving range, you pay a for a different amount of balls and enter different cubicles where baseballs are fired at varying speeds. They have baseball bats that you can borrow… it’s great fun to go with a few friends for a laugh!
Another fun Round One Gemusen (Game Centre) in Umeda. They are great places to go if it’s too hot or raining outside, or generally if you fancy some arcade fun. They're also a great place to go if you're drunk or on the way home from a night out, and this one is open late. A lot of them stay open late. I shouldn't be advertising drinking… but they’re so much fun to go to with a few friends when you’re tipsy. But don’t be rowdy drunkards… a lot of people go there and play games seriously as practice. And I’m not even joking lol
Some of the guys that take it really seriously as I mentioned. This guy had some sick drumming skills. He comes here a lot
Hep Five Mall is a great young person a place to come. It’s a cool, stylish and fun place where young Japanese students etc come to hang out. There is also a Ferris wheel on top of the mall. For 600 yen you can soar over Osaka and see across the entire city. Defo worth checking out!
Aside from the two main areas (Namba and Umeda) that you have just read above, there are other fun things to do and places to explore in Osaka. Below are the other things I recommend you do while in Osaka.
Osaka Castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Japan. Once a powerful icon in Feudal Japan, the castle played an important role in the unification of Japan in the sixteenth century. It was built by a powerful Daimyo, politician and general, Toyotomi Hideyoshi who was considered one of the great unifiers of Japan.
The actual castle grounds are set on a 15-acre plot of land with a great moat and out walls. The castle had impressive defensive capabilities and in 1614, Shogun Tokugawa attacked Toyotomi with 200,000 men. Toyotomi was vastly outnumbered but managed to defend and repel the attack due to the design of the castle and its great defences.
The castle is in Chuo-ku, central Osaka.
►Admission: 600 yen
►Hours: 9:00 - 17:00
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the largest aquariums in the world, if not THE largest. Boasting multiple massive main tanks with many other aquarium tanks with arguably the richest and diverse range of any aquarium in the world. Tickets can be bought at the ticket area by the main building and are 2300 yen for adults over 16, free for children under 3, 600 yen for children from 4 to 6 and 1200 yen for children from 7-15 years old. The Aquarium is located in the Minato ward of Osaka, on a kind of little mini-island that is connected to the city at the bay area. The surrounding bay area is actually very beautiful too with great scenery.
►Admission hours: 10:00 till 20:00
One of the largest ferris wheels in Asia, its famous for its incredible sights at the top. On a clear day you can see as far as Kyoto and Nara and other surrounding cities and towns.
Admission is 800 yen and it is open from 10:00 till 21:30 (last admission). The Tempozan Ferris wheel is located on the same peninsula as the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, so you can walk from one to the other. The market and surrounding shops are also worth visiting!
►Admission hours: 10:00 - 21:20
Abeno Harukas is Japan’s tallest skyscraper, standing at 300m tall. Part of the Abenobashi Terminal Building, it is a small city within a city. The building and skyscraper is located in Abeno-ku, central Osaka. Abenobashi terminal building was originally designed to be an alternative train station to several lines but currently a multipurpose building. It contains offices, restaurants, several department stores including the biggest one in Japan, an underground city and of course the Abeno Harukas skyscraper. All together really is a marvel of Japanese engineering and modern design, making it literally a city within Osaka. You could spend your entire day there.
You can go to the top of the Abeno Harukas building and enjoy the views across Japan (and other parts of Kansai on a clear day) while eating at the various restaurants. If you are feeling brave you can challenge yourself on the 'Edge The Harukas', which is walking the perimeter on the upper limit on the skyscraper hundreds of meters up! It is terrifying but a huge adrenaline rush.
Their website - https://www.abenoharukas-300.jp/observatory/edge/en/
►Price Range: Adults ¥600
►Location: Kita-Ku, Osaka
Take a trip back in time at The Osaka Museum of housing and living, located in Kita-Ku, Osaka. Filled
with interactive and engaging information, spanning three floors, this museum is a must see for
those of you wanting a deeper learning to ever-changing Osaka. Let me give you my
recommendation on how to explore this fascinating interactive history museum.
To kick off your exploration, head straight to the 10 th floor. Here you can gaze down upon the life-sized
model town of old Osaka, previously known as Naniwa. Before you head down to walk its
streets, take a moment to enjoy its ambient light cycle, from the early morning dawn, straight
through the day, to the moonlit light.
On the 9 th floor is where you can experience hands-on history up close; from visiting store to store
trying out traditional toys, to dressing in beautiful kimonos where you can pose for photos and
wander the streets.
To complete the experience, journey to the 8 th floor where you’ll find scale miniatures displaying
different time periods; starting from the Meiji period, travelling all the way through to the Post-War.
You will also find a beautiful fusion of modern and ancient videography, allowing you to watch the
transformation of Osaka as it went through its industrial period, exploding in population and growth,
all animated with beautiful precision!