Sink your teeth into Japan’s culinary capital
One of Japan’s great cities, Osaka is a destination famous for its pulsating energy, love of food and fun-filled nights. And though it’s loaded with attractions, this is a city where sightseeing comes second to experiencing its epicurean delights. Osakans live by the motto kuidaore – to eat until you drop – and so will you!
Join locals indulging in kuidaore along the blazing neon-lit stage of Dotonbori, Osaka’s nightlife and eating district. Come evening it’s alive with an electric atmosphere as revellers arrive to hit the many bars and clubs, and of course, restaurants. You’ll find all the classic dishes from Japan – and indeed the globe – but it’s the local Osakan specialties that are worth loosening your belt for.
In between meals, there’s plenty to see and do. Osaka Castle is the premier attraction, but there are temples, shrines, aquariums, galleries and many museums to explore. And Kyoto – the heart of Japan’s traditional culture – is just a short train ride away.
Things to do: Osaka
Feast on Osaka’s local dishes
Osaka’s reputation as a city for foodies is one that goes back centuries to the Edo Period. Its culinary scene is dominated by Michelin-star restaurants, street food, ramen and sushi trains – a concept first launched in Osaka. But it’s the regional dishes such as fugu (puffer fish), okonomiyaki, takoyaki and kushikatsu that are the highlights for many gourmands.
Check out Osaka’s nightlife
Second to eating, a night out on the town is very much a part of Osaka’s social fabric. Dotonbori and Amerika-Mura are iconic areas to head once the sun goes down. You’ll find yourself among a garish maze of flashing neon streets filled with lively bars, izakaya (Japanese pubs) and clubs. Whether you’re in the mood for Japanese cocktails, local craft beer, a boozy meal or checking out the local rock ‘n’ roll scene, it’s worth setting aside an evening for a big night out.
Image credit: Champ – stock.adobe.com
See the sights
Osaka isn’t all just about hedonistic experiences – you’ll find plenty of traditional culture and sights to keep you busy. Osaka Castle is one of the city’s most popular attractions and one of Japan’s most beautiful buildings. It’s worth setting aside a few hours to explore. For traditional culture, take in a bunraku performance before visiting Buddhist temples and shrines, and fascinating museums and galleries. Family-friendly attractions include the huge aquarium and Universal Studios where kids can explore everything from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to Super Nintendo World.
Take a daytrip to Kyoto
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 as little as half 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.
Get the best city views
Standing at 300 metres, Abeno Harukas is Japan’s tallest skyscraper and features an observation deck from where you can take in 360-degree views of Kansai’s surrounding mountains. For an even more giddy experience, daredevils can step out along the Edge of Harukas while attached to a harness. Osaka’s iconic Umeda Sky Building offers wonderful views from its floating garden, as does the 112-metre-tall Tempozan Ferris Wheel that looks out over Osaka Bay and the city’s sparkling horizon of high-rises.
Kansai International Airport (KIX)
Distance to city centre 50km
Taxi The trip to central Osaka takes around 50 minutes and costs about JPY ¥16,000. There’s a surcharge of JPY ¥2500 for late-night fares.
Train The Nankai Express Rapit takes around 35 minutes to get to Namba Station and costs JPY ¥1450. Nankai Airport Express trains take about 10 minutes longer and cost JPY ¥920.
The JR Haruka Kansai-Airport Express departs twice an hour and takes around 30 minutes to get to Tennoji Station; it costs JPY ¥1710. More frequent JR Kansai Airport rapid trains take 50 minutes and cost JPY ¥1060.
Trains leave from Kansai Airport Station in Terminal 1; you can get a free shuttle bus there from Terminal 2.
Buses KATE buses to destinations around Osaka and throughout the Kansai region depart from Terminals 1 and 2. The trip to Osaka Station takes around 50 minutes and costs JPY ¥1600.Back to top
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 (late March to mid-April) is an excellent time to visit, as is late November to early December for the autumn leaves.
Osaka hosts a grand sumo tournament in mid-March, and late July sees the Tenjin Matsuri Festival – with hundreds of elaborately decked-out boats plying the Okawa River. The third weekend in September is the memorable float-pulling ceremony of Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri.Back to top
Osaka is easily seen via its network of subway lines. For ease of travel, pick up a rechargeable, prepaid ICOCA card (JPY ¥2000). Fares are charged by distance travelled. Otherwise, a one- or two-day Osaka Amazing Pass is a good option for visitors. It covers unlimited subway and bus rides, and free entrance to more than 40 sights. You can buy the pass online. For all-day travel without the free admissions, the Enjoy Eco Card is a considerably cheaper option.Back to top