Osaka

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Osaka Castle

Ōsaka (大阪) is the third largest city in Japan, with a population of over 17 million people in its greater metropolitan area. It is the central metropolis of the Kansai region and the largest of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto trio.

Districts[edit]

"Osaka" can mean either the larger Osaka prefecture (大阪府 Ōsaka-fu), covered in a separate guide, or central Osaka city (大阪市 Ōsaka-shi), the topic of this guide. The city is administratively divided into 24 wards (区 ku), but in common usage the following divisions are more useful:

Osaka's districts
Kita (キタ)
The newer center of the city, including the Kita ward (北区). Umeda (梅田) is the main terminal. Department stores, theaters and boutiques are clustered around JR Osaka Station and Umeda Station, which serves several city and private railways
Minami (ミナミ)
the traditional commercial and cultural center, composed of the Chuo (中央区) and Naniwa (浪速区) wards. Namba (なんば, 難波) is the main railway station, and the surrounding area has the department store and showy shopping. Shinsaibashi (心斎橋) and Horie (堀江) is the fashion area. Dōtonbori (道頓堀) is the best place to go for a bite to eat. Semba (船場) straddles the line between Kita and Minami, and contains the business districts of Yodoyabashi (淀屋橋), Doujima (堂島) and Hommachi (本町); and the financial district of Kitahama (北浜).
Tennoji (天王寺)
generally means the area around JR Tennōji Station, Abeno and Tennoji subway stations and Kintetsu rail lines, located at the south end of Tennōji ward. The ward was named after the historical Shitennoji temple. Tennōji Park and Zoo are in the area. To the west of Tennōji is Shinsekai (新世界), which was an amusement area in the past and has now become quite seedy.
Osaka castle
Osaka Castle (大阪城) is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Japan. Kyōbashi (京橋) is northeast of Osaka Castle, home to Osaka Business Park (OBP).
North
covering the area north of Osaka. Includes Shin-Osaka(新大阪) and Juso(十三).
East
The eastern suburbs of Osaka.
South
The southern suburbs of Osaka containing various districts, which has the Sumiyoshi-Taisya Grand Shrin.
Bay Area
Huge amusement area with many gigantic facilities.

Understand[edit]

Osaka and the "808 Bridges" (八百八橋)


Many districts in Osaka derive their names from the Tokugawa-era bridges that were built during the city's reign as transportation hub for the country. Today, Yodoyabashi (淀屋橋) and Kyobashi (京橋) still retain their crossings, while the bridges in Yotsubashi (四ツ橋), Nagahoribashi (長堀橋)and Shinsaibashi (心斎橋) are long gone.

橋 (hashi, often pronounced -bashi, when affixed to a preceding name) is the kanji character meaning 'bridge'.

If Tokyo is Japan's capital, one might call Osaka its anti-capital. Whatever you call it, though, there are many opportunities for you to discover its true character.

Osaka dates back to the Asuka and Nara period. Under the name Naniwa (難波), it was the capital of Japan from 683 to 745, long before the upstarts at Kyoto took over. Even after the capital was moved elsewhere, Osaka continued to play an important role as a hub for land, sea and river-canal transportation. (See "808 Bridges" infobox.) During the Tokugawa era, while Edo (now Tokyo) served as the austere seat of military power and Kyoto was the home of the Imperial court and its effete courtiers, Osaka served as "the Nation's Kitchen" (「天下の台所」 tenka-no-daidokoro), the collection and distribution point for rice, the most important measure of wealth. Hence it was also the city where merchants made and lost fortunes and cheerfully ignored repeated warnings from the shogunate to reduce their conspicuous consumption.

During Meiji era, Osaka's fearless entrepreneurs took the lead in industrial development, making it the equivalent of Manchester in the U.K. A thorough drubbing in World War 2 left little evidence of this glorious past — even the castle is a ferroconcrete reconstruction — but to this day, while unappealing and gruff on the surface, Osaka remains Japan's best place to eat, drink and party, and in legend (if not in practice) Osakans still greet each other with mōkarimakka?, "are you making money?".

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

The main international gateway to Osaka is Kansai International Airport (IATA: KIX) [1]. The airport has two railway connections to the city: JR West's Kansai Airport Line and the private Nankai Electric Railway.

Several ticket offers from Kansai Airport are available, which may appeal to foreign visitors:

  • Japan Railway (JR) offers the ICOCA & HARUKA ticket package for foreign tourists only. For ¥3000 one-way or ¥4000 round-trip you get an unreserved trip on the Haruka limited express, and can continue on to any JR station in Osaka within a designated area. You also receive a ¥2000 ICOCA fare card to use on transit in the Kansai region (¥1500 + ¥500 deposit).
  • Nankai Railways offers a Kanku Chikatoku Ticket for ¥980 each way. With this you can travel on the Nankai Railway's commuter service to Namba, and then travel to any station in the entire Osaka Subway system.

Most domestic flights arrive at Osaka International Airport, also known as Itami Airport (IATA: ITM), [2]. Itami is connected to the Osaka Monorail [3], but the monorail is expensive and traces an arc around the northern suburbs, so to get to the centre of the city you will need to transfer to a suburban Hankyu railway line. A more convenient option for most are the Airport Limousine Buses [4], which run frequently from Itami to various locations within Osaka and elsewhere in the region (including Kansai Airport), with fares starting around ¥500-600. Taxi from Itami airport to Osaka castle area costs ¥4000 plus ¥700 for toll road.

By train[edit]

Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen (新幹線) trains arrive at Shin-Osaka station, to the north of the city center. From Shin-Osaka, you can connect to the city center by using the Midosuji subway line, or connect to the local JR network for other destinations.

  • From Tokyo, Nozomi (のぞみ) trains cover the one way ride in about 2 1/4 hours (¥14,050); Hikari (ひかり) trains take 3 hours and all-stopping Kodama (こだま) trains take 4 hours (both ¥13750). With the Japan Rail Pass, there is no charge to take the Shinkansen if you use the Hikari or Kodama service.
  • From points west of Osaka, Nozomi trains run from Okayama (¥6060, 45 mins), Hiroshima (¥10,150, 80 mins) and Hakata station in Fukuoka (¥14,890, 2 1/4 hours). Japan Rail Pass holders can use the Hikari Rail Star (ひかりレールスター) or Sakura (さくら) service instead, which runs at a comparable speed to the Nozomi and makes a few more stops, but its trains are shorter (8 car trains, compared to 16 cars on the Nozomi). Slower Kodama trains connect the rest of the stations on the route.
  • Sakura trains start in Kyushu, with service to Osaka available from Kumamoto (¥18,000, 3 1/4 hours) and Kagoshima (¥21,300, 4 hours). Mizuho (みずほ) trains are slightly faster and slightly more expensive. If you have a Japan Rail Pass the Mizuho cannot be used.

If travelling from the east without a rail pass, you can take advantage of the Puratto Kodama Ticket (in Japanese). This ticket offers a discount for the all-stopping Kodama services if you purchase at least one day in advance. You get a reserved seat and a coupon for a free drink (including beer) which can be redeemed at a "Kiosk" convenience counter inside the station. With this ticket a trip from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka costs ¥10,000 - a savings of almost ¥4000. Note that there is only one Kodama service per hour from Tokyo, and a few early-morning Kodama trains cannot be used with this ticket.

During travel periods when the Seishun 18 Ticket is valid, you can go from Tokyo to Osaka during the day in about nine hours using all-local trains. Travelling in a group, however, discounts the cost significantly from the standard ¥8500 fare: A party of three costs ¥3800 per person, and a group of five traveling together brings the cost down to ¥2300 per person. See the Seishun 18 Ticket article for more information.

There are many regional railway lines connecting Osaka to nearby cities:

  • From Kyoto, JR offers fast, but slightly more expensive, shin-kaisoku (special rapid) trains to Osaka Station. The cheaper but slower alternative is the Hankyu Railway's limited express service. Both lines terminate in the Umeda area of Osaka. Keihan Railway offers Kyoto-Osaka trains. The Yodoyabashi terminal in Osaka does not connect directly with JR, but it is possible to transfer to the JR Osaka Loop Line at Kyobashi. In Kyoto, Keihan and Hankyu trains do not connect with JR Kyoto Station but both travel to stations which are more convenient for reaching the centre of the city. 30–45 minutes.
  • From Kobe, JR again offers slightly faster and slightly more expensive service than Hankyu. The third choice is Hanshin Railway, which is identical to Hankyu in terms of cost and similar in time, useful for getting to Koshien Stadium to see Hanshin Tigers games. All three lines go to Osaka / Umeda. about 20 minutes.
  • From Nara, JR offers trains to Tennōji and Osaka Stations, and Kintetsu offers trains to Namba. Kintetsu station in Nara is closer to Tōdaiji and Nara Park. 35–45 minutes.
  • From Nagoya, an alternative to the Shinkansen is Kintetsu's premium limited express service, the Urban Liner (アーバンライナー) which goes directly to Namba. Trip times are as little as two hours each way, with departures at 0 and 30 minutes past the hour at a cost of ¥4150. In comparison, the shinkansen takes just under an hour for ¥5670.

Stations with the same name but belonging to different railway companies are sometimes very far apart. For example, the Nakatsu stations on the Hankyu and subway networks are about an hour's walk from each other, even though they look close on the railway map. Allow up to half an hour for walking between the various Umeda stations and about the same for the various Namba stations, especially if you are a first time visitor.

In Kobe the Sannomiya stations belonging to JR and Hankyu are connected but Hanshin Sannomiya is across a street.

Overnight by train[edit]

Direct daily overnight train service between Tokyo and Osaka consists of a single Tokyo-bound departure only — the Sunrise Izumo/Sunrise Seto, leaving Osaka station at 12:34AM and arriving in Tokyo just after 7AM.

One overnight train, the Twilight Express (トワイライトエクスプレス), runs between Osaka/Shin-Osaka Station and Sapporo in Hokkaido several times a week. Japan Rail Pass holders must pay additional fees to use this train, but note that due to its popularity it tends to get sold out.

During University holidays there are some additional overnight services to Matsuyama, Kochi and Fukuoka. As these are considered rapid services they can be very economical if you use a Seishun 18 Ticket.

Overnight by train with rest stop[edit]

As a Rail Pass holder, you may also choose to simply split up your journey, stopping at an intermediate destination en route in order to sleep somewhere, and the cost incurred will only be for the hotel room. This is also a good way to travel overnight, especially if you are able to find cheap accommodation, such as a business hotel. Yes, it may be a little hectic, and it might require some research, but this method carries two significant advantages: location and money. You will more than likely find good accommodation very close to a main train station in a smaller city, compared to a big city such as Tokyo, and it will more than likely be cheaper than hotels found in Tokyo. You could use the money you save to forward some of your luggage to Osaka using a luggage delivery service and take an overnight bag with you, which will make the journey easier.

For example, you can use the Tokaido Shinkansen late at night and sleep over at a hotel in Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi or Nagoya; In the morning, grab one of the first bullet train departures in the same direction to continue your trip. Here is an example: In the evening hours, take a Hikari or Kodama train to Hamamatsu (75–90 minutes via Hikari or 2 hours via Kodama). Once there you can take a rest at Hamamatsu's Toyoko Inn, which costs as low as ¥4000 for a single room if booked in advance. At 6:30 the next morning, board the first bullet train of the day, a Kodama, and you will be at Shin-Osaka station by 8:15.

By car[edit]

It is generally a bad idea to use an automobile to visit Osaka. Many streets do not have names, signs are usually only in Japanese, and parking fees are astronomical. In addition, an international driver's license is required.

By bus[edit]

JR Highway Buses are among many companies that make daily bus runs between Tokyo and Osaka.

As Osaka is a major city, there are many day and overnight buses which run between Osaka and other locations throughout Japan, which can be a cheaper alternative than shinkansen fares.

The run between Tokyo and the Kansai region is the busiest in Japan, and fierce competition between bus operators has resulted in better amenities and lower prices. Buses from Tokyo follow either the Tomei Expressway or the Chuo Expressway to Nagoya, then the Meishin Expressway to Osaka. Trips take approximately 8–9 hours depending on the route and stops.

The following are among the major bus services available between Tokyo and Osaka: (Current as of March, 2012)

Willer Express[edit]

Discount bus operator Willer Express runs daytime and overnight buses with a variety of seating options ranging from standard bus seats to luxurious shell seats. Bus journeys can be booked online in English, and Willer's Japan Bus Pass is valid on all of their routes with some exceptions.

Buses from Tokyo leave from Willer's own bus terminal, located west of Shinjuku Station in the Sumitomo Building. Some buses also leave from Tokyo Disneyland - Goofy Car Park, Tokyo Station - Yaesu-Chuo Exit, Shinagawa Station - Shinagawa Prince Hotel and Yokohama Station.

In Osaka, Willer has their own bus terminal at the Umeda Sky Building. Buses also stop at Osaka Doyama-cho, Osaka Station's Sakurabashi Exit, Kintetsu Namba Station and Tennoji Park.

Willer's overnight one-way fares to/from Tokyo start from approximately ¥3800 for overnight trips in standard seats up to ¥9800 in shell seats with advanced purchase. Daytime bus fares start from ¥4900. Fares are typically higher on weekends and holidays.

JR Bus[edit]

JR Bus (Japanese Website) is also a major operator on the Tokyo-Osaka route. The drawback is that you cannot make online reservations in English, but you can make reservations in train stations at the same "Midori-no-Madoguchi" ticket windows used to reserve seats on trains.

JR Buses depart from Tokyo Station - Yaesu Exit (八重洲口) and the JR Highway Bus Terminal (JR高速バスターミナル) located adjacent to Yoyogi Station on the Yamanote Line (one stop south of Shinjuku). In Osaka, buses congregate primarily at the JR Highway Bus Terminal there, the Minato-Cho Bus Terminal, and at Tennoji Station.

JR Bus offers, in order of comfort and price, Seishun (youth) buses with 2x2 seating configurations, Standard buses with individual seats arranged 1x1x1, and Premium Buses that offer wider seats and more amenities.

JR Bus' overnight one-way fares to/from Tokyo start from approximately ¥3500 for overnight trips in Seishun buses up to ¥7600 for premium buses with advanced purchase. Daytime bus fares start from ¥4200. Fares are typically higher on weekends and holidays.

Japan Rail Passes (for trains) used to be valid on this and other JR highway bus routes, but as of April 2013 this has been discontinued.

Other bus services[edit]
  • Hankyu Bus: Several overnight buses from Tokyo Station, Shinagawa Bus Terminal, Shinjuku, Shibuya, Ikebukuro and Yokohama. Fares start from ¥8610. Buses stop at Shin-Osaka Station (bullet train stop) and Hankyu Umeda Station.
  • Keihan Bus: overnight buses from Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal, Shibuya Mark City, Tokyo Disneyland and Keisei Ueno station. Buses stop at Keihan's Hirakatashi station, from which central Osaka can be reached by Keihan Train in 25 minutes. Regular bus fare ¥8360; train fare ¥320 from Hirakatashi to Yodoyabashi station.
  • Kintetsu Bus: overnight from Asakusa Station, Ueno Station, Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station and Yokohama Station. Regular buses from ¥6480; "Flying Sneaker" discount bus from ¥3900 with advance purchase. Buses stop at the Higashi Umeda subway station, Kintetsu Namba Station and Abenobashi station.
Nighttime Bus from Yamaguchi Prefecture[edit]

Bocho bus offers a nighttime bus from the cities of Hagi, Yamaguchi, Hofu, Tokuyama, and Iwakuni to Kobe and Osaka. It currently costs between ¥6300 and ¥9480 for a one way ticket, depending on where you get on and where you get off. The bus departs Hagi Bus Center at 7:55PM nightly, and arrives at Osaka station at 7:15AM daily. The bus makes a return trip from Osaka station at 10:05PM nightly, and arrives at Hagi bus center at 9:25AM daily. Full details including round trip fares are on the (Japanese Website). It is a good deal if you have time to spare.

By boat[edit]

Osaka International Ferry Terminal is located at Nankō (南港) in the Osaka Bay Area. There are no banks, post office, shops, or restaurants in the terminal. The nearest subway station is Cosmosquare Station (C11), which is about a 15 minute walk from the terminal. A free shuttle bus is available at the station. Taxis are also available at the station.

Getting to the Ferry Terminal[edit]

  • From Suminoe-koen Station (Take the New Tram to Nankōguchi (南港口)).
  • From JR Shin-Osaka Station (Shinkansen Line) (JR Shin-Osaka Station →transfer to Subway Midosuji Line (Red Line) at Shin-Osaka Station(M13) → Hommachi Station (M18) → transfer to Subway Chuo Line (Green Line) → Cosmosquare station (C10)). Travel time: at least 40 minutes to Cosmosquare Station. ¥310.
  • From Namba (Subway Midosuji Line (Red Line) at Namba Station (M20) → Hommachi Station (M18) → transfer to Subway Chuo Line (Green Line) → Cosmosquare Station (C10)). Travel time: at least 30 minutes to Cosmosquare Station. ¥270.
  • From Tennoji (Subway Midosuji Line (Red Line) at Tennoji Station (M23) → Hommachi Station (M18) → transfer to Subway Chuo Line (Green Line) → Cosmosquare Station (C10)). Travel time: at least 40 minutes to Cosmosquare Station. ¥310.
  • By taxi (Instruct the taxi driver to take you to the Osaka Port International Ferry Terminal (Nanko) — otherwise, you may be taken to the domestic ferry terminal.).
  • By car (From Hanshin Expressway Tenpozan exit to Port of Osaka and after passing through Osakako-Sakishima Tunnel, turn left at the first crossing, and follow the road.). ¥200 per car for the toll road.

Osaka-Busan[edit]

The PanStar Line [5] operates a ferry between Osaka and Busan. The ferry leaves Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, at 3:10PM from both Osaka and Busan and arrives the following day at 10AM. In Busan, the luggage check-in time is prior to the passenger check-in time: for the Busan-Osaka run, luggage check in is 12:40PM-2PM and the passenger check in time is 2:15PM–2:45PM; for the Osaka-Busan run, luggage check in is 1PM-2PM and the passenger check in time is 1PM-2:30PM. Many different room options are available, including family rooms. Fares start at ¥17,000 and range through seven different room/suite classes culminating in a Presidential Suite, which is ¥250,000 per night. Tickets can be purchased online, but much of the website content is only available in Japanese and Korean, and may be difficult to navigate for English speakers. Tickets are easily obtainable through agents specializing in Korean or Japanese travel.

The ferry holds live musical performances, magic shows, and other entertainment on the run. Schedule varies.

You can take your car on the ferry, but there are documentation requirements, and you should check the website [6] for information. The cost for a single basic room and a car is ₩690,000. Room upgrades are available. Temporary insurance must be purchased at the port upon arrival in Osaka.

Osaka-Shanghai[edit]

Shanghai (China) twice weekly.

Get around[edit]

Kansai Travel Pass: Exploring Osaka & Kansai Region:

If you are planning to travel beyond city limits you might consider using the tickets from Surutto Kansai. For use in Osaka and other cities in the west of Japan, there are some other useful tickets.

  • ICOCA smart card. These rechargeable cards can be used on rail, subway and bus networks in Kansai area, Okayama, Hiroshima, Nagoya (Kintetsu) and Tokyo (JR East). These cards are available at vending machines at these rail stations. ¥2000, including a refundable ¥500 deposit and ¥1500 travel credit.
  • Unlimited Kintetsu Rail Pass (Purchase at the Kansai Airport Agency Travel Desk in Kansai International Airport.). This pass is good for unlimited travel within the Kansai region for 5 consecutive days. The Kansai region covers Kyoto, Nara, Nagoya, Mie, and more. ¥3700.
  • Wide Kintetsu Rail Pass (Purchase at the Kansai Airport Agency Travel Desk in Kansai International Airport.). This pass is similar the Unlimited Kintetsu Rail Pass, but it includes a few extra areas like the inclusive round trip access from Kansai Airport to Osaka's Uehommachi station and back to airport plus unlimited rides on Mie Kotsu buses in the Ise-Shima area and some discount vouchers.. ¥5700.
  • Osaka Unlimited Pass. This pass comes in two versions. The one-day pass offers unlimited use of trains (excluding JR trains) and buses in Osaka City and neighboring areas, as well as free admission to 24 popular sightseeing facilities as well as discounts at some more locations. The two-day pass is restricted to subway and city bus lines. Both versions come with a handy little booklet with route suggestions, coupons and lots of information about all the sites. If you are planning to visit some of the more expensive sites included for free in the pass, such as the Floating Observatory in Umeda which alone carries a price tag of ¥700, this ticket can be economical. Transit can take a long time, so it is wise to make a plan before purchasing this pass. For a couple of hundred yen more you can get an extended version of this pass which includes the train trip to Osaka and back from all the cities around. One-day pass for ¥2000, two-day pass for ¥2700.
  • Osaka One-day Pass. Unlimited one-day travel on all subways, buses, the New Tram, and includes a few discounts around town. Adults ¥850, children ¥430.
  • Multiple Ride Card. This card can be used until its fare (¥3300) expires. It is good for subways, buses, and the New Tram. ¥3000.

By subway[edit]

Osaka Subway Map

The Osaka Subway here is Japan's second-most extensive subway network after Tokyo, which makes the underground the natural way to get around. The Midosuji Line is Osaka's main artery, linking up the massive train stations and shopping complexes of Shin-Osaka, Umeda, Shinsaibashi, Namba and Tennoji.

The signage, ticketing and operation of the Osaka subway is identical to its larger counterpart in Tokyo. Fares ¥200-350, depending on distance. Station arrivals are displayed and announced in both Japanese and English. Keep your ticket when you enter the train — it is required when you exit.

By train[edit]

True to its name, the JR Osaka Loop Line (環状線 Kanjō-sen) runs in a loop around Osaka. It's not quite as convenient or heavily-used as Tokyo's Yamanote Line, but it stops in Umeda and Tennoji, and by Osaka Castle. Namba and Universal Studios Japan are connected to the Loop Line by short spurs. Fares ¥120-250, depending on distance.

By bicycle[edit]

Many residents get around by bicycle, as the city is mostly flat and easily navigable by bike. Riding on the sidewalks is permitted and some sidewalks even have bike lanes marked. If nothing is marked, try to stay to the left where possible (but often you simply need to find the best path through the pedestrians).

Rental bikes are available, but if you are staying longer than a few weeks, purchasing a used bike can be a good deal. Finding a used bike can be a bit tricky, however, particularly if you don't speak Japanese. Craigslist and websites such as Gaijinpot.com have classified listings, and there are a few used bike shops around. Renge [7], near Osaka Castle, sells a range of used bikes starting at around ¥5500.

Technically, you are required to register your bicycle with the police. Bikes registered under a name other than the rider may be considered stolen, and bicycle theft is not uncommon. Bike shops can help with the simple registration process.

See[edit]

Umeda Sky Building in Shin-Umeda City, Kita.
  •    Osaka Castle (大阪城 Osaka-jō) (The park can be accessed on a number of lines, but the castle is closest to Osaka-jō Koen station on the JR Osaka Loop Line.). 9AM-5PM daily, closed around New Years. Osaka's best known sight, although it's a concrete reconstruction that pales in comparison with, say, Himeji. Think of it as a museum built in the shape of a castle, rather than as an actual historical castle. Still, it's pretty enough from the outside, especially in the cherry blossom season when Osakans flock to the castle park to picnic and make merry. Naniwa Palace Site Park or Naniwanomiya can also be found south to Osaka Castle Park (although it's one of Japan's oldest habitats and palace sites, today it's little more than an empty grass field where the outlines of Naniwa's palace foundations from around 643 AD have been partly recreated in concrete). The grounds are free, and the castle costs adults ¥600, children free.
  •    Osaka Science Museum (大阪市立科学館) (Walk from subway Higobashi Station or Yodoya-bashi Station, 500m and 900m to the west respectively.). Tu-Su 9:30AM-5PM, closed Dec 28-Jan 4, closed on public holidays. Big interactive activity center on several floors. Great for kids. Planetarium and cinema (with science films) downstairs. Adults ¥600, children ¥300.
  •    Osaka Museum of History (大阪歴史博物館), 1-32 Otemae 4-Chome Chuo-ku (5 min walk from subway Tanimachi 4-chome Station; also accessible via Osaka Castle or from JR Osaka-jō Station). M-Th 9:30AM-5PM, F 9:30AM-8PM, closed Tuesday, or Wednesday of Tuesday is a holiday. An ideal place to learn all-abouts of Osaka's history. Enjoyable view over Osaka Castle and the OBP skyscrapers. ¥600.
  •    Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル), 1-1-20 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku (10 min. walk from JR Osaka or Hankyu Umeda.). Observatory 10AM-10:30PM daily, last adm. at 10PM. Built in an attempt to upgrade Osaka's somewhat downbeat Kita district, the project wasn't quite the hoped-for commercial success but this bizarrely shaped 40-story, 173-meter building is still a city landmark. Take the escalator through midair to the rooftop observatory for an open-air view of Osaka, which is particularly impressive on a clear night. There is a lover's seat, where if you hold your partner's hand, and each hold a metal button on the seat, the ground around you lights up into a heart. You can purchase an engraved heart lock (¥1000) and attached it to the padlock wall around the seat (padlocks only available after 7pm). The basement features a recreation of a Meiji-era street, with a few small restaurants and bars in appropriate style. There is also a small store downstairs where you can purchase quality mochi on the cheap. Observatory admission ¥700.
  •    Sumiyoshi Shrine (住吉大社) (Access is from the Nankai line station of the same name; local trains run from Namba station in central Osaka.). One of Japan's oldest Shinto shrines, with a history stretching back 1800 years. Its traditional architecture is unusual among Japan's shrines, and its park-like surroundings with the sacred bridge arching over a tranquil pond make it a restful break from the busy environment of Osaka. Free.
  •    Shitennōji Temple (四天王寺), 1-1-18 Shitennōji Tennōji-ku (5 min. walk from Shitennōji-mae-Yuhiga-oka subway stop, or 15 min by walk north from Tennōji Station.). Originally built by Emperor Suiko in 593 AD. Although the current buildings are mostly post WWII reconstructions, the temple is a rare sample which conveys the continental style (notably the positioning of the individual buildings inside the complex) of 6th-7th century to present.
  •    Japan Mint (造幣局), 1-1-79 Temma Kita-ku (15 minutes walk from Temmabashi subway stop.). It's not widely known even by people from elsewhere in the country that Japan Mint is actually headquartered in Osaka. For Osakans, Sakura-no-tōrinuke (桜の通り抜け, cherry blossom tunnel road) is a synonym for this facility, attracting a large number of visitors (close to 1 million in just 7 days) during a limited, planned week in mid-Apr. A must-see if you are fond of nature and happen to drop into Osaka in-season. Free.
Tsūtenkaku
  •    Tsūtenkaku (通天閣). While the original tower was built early 20th century, the current "newer" version is designed by the same Prof. Naitō, who also designed Tokyo Tower. This landmark built in the middle of the Shinsekai (新世界) area is a symbol of reconstruction of the City of Osaka post WWII. There's a "Sky Billiken" on the platform, definitely makes your wishes come true, once you rub his feet! And if you are lucky, your guide will have another job as a comedian! Trip to the top ¥600, ouside platform with guide and safety belt extra ¥1400.
  •    Open Air Museum of Old Farmhouses (日本民家集落博物館 (nihon minka shūraku hakubutsukan)), Ryokuchi-koen (Take the Midosuji subway line to Ryokuchi.). Tu-Su. Ryokuchi park itself is lovely, and in it is a museum of a dozen old Edo period farmhouses, moved across country and lovingly reconstructed. Also on display are tools, furniture, and the like. You can go to Himeji-jo or the old palace in Kyoto and see how the rulers lived, but come down here to see how the people lived. Thanks to the efforts of a volunteer from Australia, they have a great new English-language brochure to guide you. ¥500.
  • Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum (上方浮世絵館),  +81 66 211-0393. Tu-Su 11AM-6PM. A rather small museum in Nanba dedicated to ukiyoe, Japanese woodblock prints. The interior of the museum looks a bit like an adobe house. It may be most interesting to someone already familiar with the art, as the information inside mostly Japanese only. ¥500.
  •    Peace Osaka (大阪国際平和センター),  +81 66 947-7208. Tu-Su 9:30AM-5PM. A museum dedicated to the promotion of peace through displays of war. Because it is an Osaka museum, it features the effects of the bombings on Osaka in WWII. While this is of some interest, the exhibitions depicting the atrocities committed by Japan against China, Korea, and Southeast Asia are what make this museum truly worthwhile. There is also an exhibit with displays relating to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Exhibits have English explanations.

Do[edit]

Skyline of downtown Umeda, City-Centre Osaka
  •    Kaiyukan (海遊館) (Osakako, Chuo Line.). This is one of the world's largest aquariums, with 11,000 tons of water and plenty of sharks (including a whale shark), dolphins, otters, seals, and other sea creatures. The largest tank, representing the Pacific Ocean with 5,400 tons is nothing but overwhelming. On the weekend, musicians and street performers offer additional entertainment to people outside the aquarium. Adults ¥2300, children ¥900.
  •    Tenpozan Ferris Wheel (Next to Kaiyukan in the Tempozan area.). 10AM-10PM. There is also the Suntory Museum, a mall and a port for sightseeing boats. The mall has a wide variety of shops that cater to fashionistas, otaku, tourists or dog lovers, variably. The mall itself doubles as a kind of amusement park, along with the Ferris wheel, and the best deal is to catch the ferry from there to Universal Studios across the water. ¥700, children up to 3 years old free.
  •    Sumo Spring Grand Tournament (大相撲春場所) (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, a 10 minute walk from the Namba subway stop.). The Osaka Tournament of Japan's national sport, sumo wrestling, is usually held mid-March annually at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. Check for schedules and ticket availabilities at the official Nihon Sumo Kyokai homepage. ¥3000-14,300.
Universal Studios Japan
  •    Universal Studios Japan (At Universal-City Station on the JR Yumesaki Line, 10 minutes from Osaka.). Japan's second-largest theme park. Expect much Japanese dubbing over your favorite characters and movies. (If you are coming here on a side trip from Tokyo Disney Resort, see that article's Get out section for information on how to get here and return to Tokyo that same day.) One-day ticket for adults ¥6200, children ¥4100.
  •    Umeda Joypolis Sega (ジョイポリス) (next to Umeda (Osaka) station). 11AM-11PM. Occupies the 8th and 9th floors of the Hep Five building with arcades and a Ferris wheel at the top. Local laws prohibit kids being here after dark even in the company of their parents, so if you want to take the kids along, plan on going early. The HEP5 Ferris is okay though. ¥500-¥600 attractions.
  •    Spa World (Just near Tsutenkaku Tower in Shinsakai, accessible from JR Shin-Imamiya station). 24 hours. Gender-separated European and Asian themed spas and saunas as well as a pool for the family with slides and fun (don't forget your swimming trunks). Open 24hrs so handy if stuck for accommodation or locked out of your hotel after a night on the town, just pay up, change into their cotton overalls and pass out on one of their comfy leather recliners with as many blankets as you like. Can try the outdoor onsen (try not to get burnt in the sun) or watch their huge TV in their bar with a cold beer. Gym also available to you as part of the entry free. "Rollover" for day passes is at 9 am on the dot. Watch out for the special ¥1000 deals offered from time to time, often in Mar. Well worth spending an afternoon chilling out here. It is important to note that individuals with tattoos, permanent or temporary, are barred from using the facilities. ¥2400 for 3 hours, ¥2700 for all day . Extra charge ¥1300 for stays midnight-5AM.
  •    National Bunraku Theater (国立文楽劇場 (Kokuritsu Bunraku Gekijō)) (Nippombashi.). One of the last places in the world where bunraku, a form of intricate puppet theater from the Edo period, can be seen live. The large puppets, which require three operators each, are accompanied by traditional music and narration, and act out great Japanese plays of the 1600s and 1700s. Transcripts in Japanese and synopses in English are provided.
  •    Osaka Shiki Musical Theater (劇団四季 (gekidan shiki)) (In the Herbis ENT, Umeda). Home of the Shiki Theatre Company, proposing plays and musicals.
  • Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (インスタントラーメン発明記念館 (insutanto ramen hatsumei kinenkan)), Ikeda (30 minutes from Umeda on the Hankyu line. There are signs in Katakana pointing the way from the south exit.). W-M 9:30AM-4PM. A homage to the universal Cup Noodle, with more flavors than could fill supermarket aisle. It features among other things, a statue of Momofuku Ando, the creator, standing atop a giant Cup Noodle holding an instant ramen packet aloft. Tour free, audio guides free with deposit, hands-on ramen workshop adults ¥500, children ¥300.
  •    Zepp Namba (À l'est de la station Daikokucho). A POP club
  • The festival hall in Nakanoshima, near Umeda, and the symphony hall in Umeda host modern and classical recitals, while Umeda Koma in Umeda, and Shin-Kabukiza in Uehommachi host Enka performances. For more independent or underground music, try Banana Hall in Umeda or Big Cat in Amerika-mura.
  •    ROR Comedy (Near Namba station Yotsubashi line and Mido-suji line,also Horie and Doutonbori.),  (+81) 080-4451-5539, e-mail: . English-language stand up comedy playhouse.

Work[edit]

The occupation of most resident Americans, Europeans and Australians is teaching English (as is the case in most of Japan). There are also many international students and staff at various universities in Osaka. In recent years, the economy in the Osaka region had been relatively stagnant compared to Tokyo's: although there are jobs in law, finance, accounting, engineering and other professional fields in Osaka, demand for foreign professionals tends to be higher in Tokyo (as is pay). Osaka does have several educational publishers that employ foreign workers, but these jobs require fluent Japanese language ability. Temporary work in a variety of industries is available.

Buy[edit]

  • Osaka's most famous shopping district is Shinsaibashi (心斎橋), which offers a mix of huge department stores, high-end Western designer stores, and independent boutiques ranging from very cheap to very expensive. Within Shinsaibashi, the Amerika-mura (アメリカ村, often shortened to "Amemura") or "American Village" area is particularly popular among young people, and is often said to be the source of most youth fashion trends in Japan. Just west of Amerika-mura, Horie (堀江) is a shopping area with fashionable Japanese boutiques, centered around Tachibana-dori (which is often translated as Orange Street).
  • The many shops in Umeda are also popular among trendy locals, particularly in the Hep Five and Hep Navio buildings adjacent to Hankyu Umeda Station, although these shops tend to be too expensive to captivate most tourists' interest. In this area, new shopping buildings have been constructed recently. For example, the“E-ma” buildings next to Hanshin department store, and “Nu-Chayamachi” (Nu 茶屋町), opened in October 2005 near Hankyu Umeda station.
  • For electronics, the Nipponbashi (日本橋) area southeast of Namba, and particularly the "Den-Den Town" shopping street [8], was once regarded as the Akihabara of western Japan; nowadays, more people would rather shop at the new, enormous Yodobashi Camera (ヨドバシカメラ) in Umeda or BicCamera (ビックカメラ) and LABI1 in Namba, although Nippombashi still offers good deals on many gadgets, PC components and used/new industrial electronics.
  • For Japanese and foreign books, try Kinokuniya in Hankyu Umeda Station, or Junkudo south of Osaka Station.
    Tenjinbashi-suji
  • The Official Hanshin Tigers (baseball team) Shop is located on 8th floor of Hanshin Department Store at Umeda.
  • Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street (天神橋筋商店街 Tenjinbashi-suji Shōtengai) is said to be the longest straight and covered shopping arcade in Japan at approx. 2.6 km length. The arcade is running north-south along Tenjinbashi-suji street, and is accessible from multiple subway and/or JR stations, e.g. Tenma, Minami-Morimachi, Tenjinbashi-suji 6-chome, etc. Nothing meant for sightseeing, the arcade is a live exhibition of Osaka's daily life, open since Edo period.

Eat[edit]

Individual listings can be found in Osaka's district articles

Okonomiyaki - The DIY Food


Okonomiyaki Osaka style is usually do-it-yourself food at smaller, independent specialized restaurants. Tables are equipped with embedded hot plates and you'll receive a bowl of ingredients, which you are expected to cook on your own. However, in larger franchised chains the staff can often cook for you — and even in smaller places staff will usually gladly help if asked.

Should you decide to try your luck on your own, you might want to dress for the occasion: pork slices, the most common topping, are usually very fatty and tend to splatter grease all over the place. Try Modernyaki which is an Okonomiyaki with Soba on top, or go fried egg on top of the pancake.

The widest selection of restaurants is in Osaka's main entertainment districts, with the highest concentration of all in the Umeda and Dotombori areas.

Even in a nation of obsessive gourmands Osaka is known as an excellent place to eat, exemplified by the Osakan maxim kuidaore, "eat yourself into ruin". The best place for trying out kuidaore is probably Dōtonbori (道頓堀) and neighboring Hōzenji-yokochō (法善寺横町) or Soemon-cho (宗右衛門町), the whole area containing nearly nothing but one restaurant after another.

Some typically Osakan foods worth trying include:

  • Battera (バッテラ), is a block type sushi, with mackerel put on rice and squeezed very hard in a wooden box, cut into pieces when served. Battera sushi is a variant and direct descendant of primitive sushi, this one from Osaka is unique for its squarelike shape. Available not only in sushi restaurants but also as take-away in department stores and train stations.
  • Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), fried cabbage cakes that resemble a cross between a pancake, pizza, and omelette.
  • Takoyaki (たこ焼き), bits of octopus inside fried dumplings.
  • Kushikatsu (串かつ), skewers with various sorts of food (meat, vegetables, cheese, etc.) deep-fried in dough and served with a black sauce.

Okonomiyaki is best eaten in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, while takoyaki is best eaten from street vendors' carts, which can be found all over the major districts around nightfall. The best place to find kushkatsu(串カツ) is in Shinsekai, between Dobutsuen-mae and Ebisucho stations on the Sakaisuji subway line.

Drink[edit]

Individual listings can be found in Osaka's district articles

There are many nightlife districts in Osaka. Nightlife in Osaka is very popular.

  • Kitashinchi(北新地)

This area, located just south of JR Osaka station, is the most famous nightclub and entertainment district of contemporary Osaka. It’s just like Tokyo’s Ginza, filled with many hundreds of high-class bars, clubs and small restaurants where Japanese businessmen entertain their clients.

  • Dotonbori(道頓堀)

This area is the centre of nightlife.

  • Hozenji-Yokocho(法善寺横丁)

Sleep[edit]

Individual listings can be found in Osaka's district articles

Osaka has a vast range of accommodation, including some of the best hotels in the world. Most of the city's moderate and expensive hotels can be found in Umeda, Namba, Shin-Osaka and Kyobashi, though they also have their share of budget options.

Backpackers have recently begun to use budget hotels around the JR Shin-Imamiya (新今宮) and subway Midosuji Line Dōbutsuen-mae (動物園前) stations, located in Tennoji area. Room quality varies widely and prices vary from ¥800-3000, but there are many options — see the Osaka International Guesthouse Area for the full list of foreigner-friendly establishments. The area is rather poor and there are many homeless that wander about during the day, but generally they are harmless and safety is not an issue. One benefit of the district being so poor is that prices at the supermarkets and such are generally very low. However, as always use common sense when traveling in unfamiliar areas.

Connect[edit]

  • Opti Café is a surprisingly cheap internet café in Umeda. ¥100/30min. Yodobashi Camera department store's groundfloor, next to Excelsior Café. You are requested to register for membership but it doesn't cost anything.
  • Y-net Cafe, Labi 1 Namba GF, Nambanaka 2-11-35, Naniwa-ku. First hour of use is free and no registration needed.

Cope[edit]

English Speaking doctor (The doctor is Dr Miyoshi who speaks good English and is a general doctor as well as a specialist in gynecology.), See the website http://miyoshi-clinic.com/ for the address and Google map. (near Uehommachi Station).

Consulates[edit]

  • Australia AustraliaMID Tower Twin 21 29F, 2-1-61, Shiromi, Chuo-ku +81 66-941-9271.

Stay safe[edit]

Osaka has a dangerous reputation (by Japanese standards), but is still remarkably safe for a city of its size, and the overall level of crime is as low as in Tokyo or other Japanese cities. However, some areas, particularly Shinsekai and Tobita, may be a little dodgy at night and the Airin/Kamagasaki area — Japan's largest slum, home to a lot of jobless and/or homeless people — south of Shin-Imamiya is best avoided at most times, especially after dark.

Incidentally, despite the movie stereotype of gangsters speaking in Osakan dialect, the actual base of Japan's biggest yakuza families is neighboring Kobe — and the most gang violence occurs in Tokyo. Unless you're dealing drugs, you're unlikely to get involved with the local mafia.

Go next[edit]

  • Its location makes Osaka a perfect base for doing one-day trips to nearby cities like Kyoto (30 minutes), Kobe (20 minutes), Nara (40 minutes) or Himeji (1 hour). (Typical times shown on JR Trains available without extra express charges starting from Osaka Station.)
  • The Expo Park in Suita, the huge commemorial park of the Japan World Expo '70, with its interesting Japanese Garden and Museum of National Ethnology. It's a very large park, and a good place for a picnic.
  • Hirakata - Home to the child-friendly Hirakata Park and Kansai Gaidai University.
  • Church of Light (茨木春日丘教会 Ibaraki Kasuga-oka Kyoukai)(Ibaraki), one of the masterpiece architecture by Tadao Ando.
  • Minō, a popular maple watching spot in autumn and nature escape all year round. From Hankyu Umeda station take the train to Minō station. It is a pleasant walk to the waterfall (~30 minutes one way) through shady forest, with wild monkeys and deer . Try the local Minoh beer or maple leaves in sweet tempura batter.
  • The temples and lush greenery of Mount Koya, 90 minutes away by train, are an entirely different world and the perfect getaway when all the concrete starts to get to you.
  • Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the world's longest single-span suspension bridge is located near Kobe, about 40 minutes away by train.
  • Tokimeki Beach is a good get away if you want to spend the day at the seaside. Take the Nankia line from Namba station to Tannowa Station. The trip costs around ¥720 and takes about 45 minutes. The bag and shower service closes at 5 p.m.
Routes through Osaka
HiroshimaShin-Kōbe  W Sanyo Shinkansen icon.png E  → END → connects to Tōkaidō line
connects to Sanyō line ← END ←  W Tokaido Shinkansen icon.png E  KyotoNagoya
END  W JR Kansai icon.png E  NaraNagoya
connects to Sanyo Main LineKobe  W JR Tokaido icon.png E  KyotoNagoya


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