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Osaka Japan

Osaka

Stuff yourself silly in Japan's foodie capital

As Japan’s third-largest and second-most important city, Osaka has a lot to offer visitors. A former commercial center, the city has ceded prominence to Tokyo in that field, though many major Japanese corporations call the place home. Osaka is considered a major hub for pop culture and shopping. But more than anything, Osaka is known for its food and its residents’ passion for eating, which inspired the term kuidaore, meaning “to eat until you drop”. Thanks to its friendly ambience and culinary bent, you may well find yourself charmed and stuffed in equal measure.

When to go

Osaka has a fairly mild climate and the seasons are quite distinct. Temperatures range from about 6˚C in the winter to close to 30˚C in the summer. Snow is rare. Late June to late July is the rainy season, with the typhoon season following soon after.

Given that there are many famous cherry-blossom viewing sites in town and in nearby Kyoto, spring is an excellent time to visit, as is the fall if you prefer autumn leaves.

Osaka hosts a grand sumo tournament in mid-March, late July sees the Tenjin Matsuri Festival - with hundreds of elaborately decked-out boats plying the Okawa River - and for a month starting in mid-October, you can feast your eyes on fields of blooms at the Osaka Castle Chrysanthemum Festival.

Flying with Jetstar

Jetstar flies direct to Osaka from most domestic ports, and is easily accessible from South-East Asia and Australia, with direct international flights from Cairns and Manila.

Find cheap flights to Osaka

Getting around

Osaka is easily seen via its network of subway lines. Fares are charged by distance traveled, but a one- or two-day Osaka Amazing Pass is a good option for visitors. In addition to unlimited subway and bus rides, you get discount access to 13 sites and free admission to 28 more. You can purchase the pass at the airport travel desk, Umeda Station and Namba Station Tourist Information Offices and at a number of hotels citywide.

Airport information

CBD 50km

Travel time 50 minutes

Taxi Approx ¥13,000-14,500 in the day and ¥15,500-17,000 late night. Fares don’t include bridge or expressway tolls.

Train to Namba on the Nankai Line takes 35 minutes and costs ¥920. The Japan Rail line will get you to Tennoji in 30-40 minutes and a ticket costs ¥1,060-2,230.

Buses to popular spots in Osaka and throughout the Kansai region are available.

Things to do

Touch the sky

The Umeda Sky building looks a bit like a Lego tower but it’s an impressive feat of architectural engineering. The midair escalator to the rooftop observatory is not for the faint of heart, but your courage will be rewarded with some stellar views of the city. The basement has been made up to look like a Meiji Era street, complete with nostalgia-soaked bars and restaurants.

Scream queen

Consistent with its reputation as a centre of fun and entertainment, Osaka is home to Universal Studios Japan and its newly opened Wizarding World of Harry Potter park, both of which make for fun outings. If you happen to be in town around Halloween, check out the theme park’s zombie-walk events. Surprisingly scary!

Stick to it

Most people know Osaka as the home of takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (a kind of Japanese savory pancake), but those aren’t the only delicious delicacies on offer. The city is also well known for its kushiage, which involves skewering various kinds of food, battering and deep-frying them and then dipping them in sauce. Delicious! Try Bon for a high-end example and Kushiage Daruma for the standard offerings.

Time travel

If Osaka’s neon nights start to wear on you a bit, you can always escape to traditional Kyoto for the day. The two cities are connected by rail and the trip takes just over an hour. See the famous golden Kinkakuji temple, the red gates of Fushimi-Inaritaisha and the bamboo walks of Arashiyama and be back in time for dinner.

Learning curve

Lest you think Osaka is all wild times and endless shopping, the city is also home to a number of major museums that are worth visiting. Try Peace Osaka to learn about the city’s WWII-era history, the Osaka Science Museum for something fun and hands-on, and the National Museum of Art, Osaka for oft-changing modern art displays.

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