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 centre, 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.
Japan’s kitchen: 6 dishes you must try in Osaka
Known as ‘The Nation’s Kitchen’, Japan’s third-largest city has a flavour all its own and smells that drive your taste buds wild.
Discover the delights of the conbini, or Japanese convenience store
Conbini (Japanese convenience stores) are much more than a ubiquitous repository of junk food and cheap buzzes. They sell everything from sushi and soba, manga and medicine, single-malt whisky and next-day hangover cures. Here are five of our favourite conbini food buys.
Things to do
Lest you think Osaka is all wild feasts and endless shopping, the city is also home to a number of major museums that are worth visiting. Try Peace Osaka opens in new window to learn about the city’s WWII-era history, the Osaka Science Museum opens in new window for something fun and hands-on, and the National Museum of Art, Osaka opens in new window for constantly changing modern art displays.
Consistent with its reputation as a centre of fun and entertainment, Osaka is home to Universal Studios Japan opens in new window and its 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; they're surprisingly scary!
Stick to it
Most people know Osaka as the home of takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (a kind of Japanese savoury 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!
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.
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.
Distance to city centre 50km
Taxi The trip to central Osaka takes around 50 minutes and costs about JPY ¥18,000. There’s a surcharge of JPY ¥2500 for late-night fares.
Train The Nankai Express Rapit takes around 40 minutes to get to Namba Station and costs JPY ¥1430. 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 opens in new window 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 ¥1550.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 is an excellent time to visit, as is the fall for the 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.Back to top
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 opens in new window 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. For all-day travel without the free admissions, the Enjoy Eco Card opens in new window is a considerably cheaper option.Back to top