Osaka Travel Guide: Everything about Osaka

Osaka is Japan’s third-largest city. It has around 2 million inhabitants, and it is in the Kansai region of Japan. As a central port town, Osaka became a center for commerce during the Edo era.

Today, trade continues to be one of its main economic activities, and along with Tokyo and Nagoya, it makes up the financial axis of Japan. Osaka is less than an hour away from Kyoto, the former capital of Japan.

The city’s modern architecture and infrastructure have earned it a place in numerous guides on visiting Japan.

Osaka Language.

The language used in Osaka is a blend of Kansai dialects. It’s been said that the typical Kansai person has over seven different versions of “yes” and “no” to choose from, depending on the mood they wish to convey at any one time.

Weather in Osaka.

Osaka has a humid subtropical climate with hot summers and cold winters. The winter months are typically drier than the summer months.

Osaka prefecture.

The prefecture of Osaka is more than twice the size of Tokyo, and it encompasses a land area of around 7,200 square kilometers. It’s one of the leaders in Japan for economic output.

Osaka prefecture is home to 3 of the country’s fifty busiest train stations: Osaka, Umeda, and Tennoji. The city is also known for its numerous festivals that are held throughout the year.

Osaka Districts.

The city is divided into six central districts:

  • Kita – North ·
  • Chuo – West ·
  • Minami – South/Southwest ·
  • Higashi Osaka ·
  • Naniwa ·
  • Suminoe-Ku

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Major cities around Osaka

Popular tourist sites include:

Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle

The most popular places of interest to tourists are Osaka Castle, Namba Parks, Universal Studios Japan, and the Dotonbori canal.

Festivals in Osaka.

Osaka is well known for its street festivals called “matsuri,” and literally means ‘festival.’ Many city areas have their own matsuri with parades, musical performances, and traditional food stands.

One of the most famous festivals is the Tenjin Matsuri held in honor of Sugawara no Michizane, a historical figure revered as Tenjin.

The festival is held each July and is said to be the largest in Japan.

Osaka Landmarks.

Namba Parks is Osaka’s most popular tourist site, located next to Namba Station on the Midosuji subway line.

It is a high-rise complex housing shopping and dining and international brand cinemas and the Osaka Science Museum.

The northern area of Namba Parks houses a giant Ferris wheel that provides scenic views over the city center.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, located on the ocean side of the Dotonbori canal, offers visitors a chance to view some of the most exciting creatures from the deep.

One of the main exhibits is the Mukojima Sea Paradise which houses whale sharks and manta rays.

Osaka Transportation.

Osaka is one of Japan’s most important transportation hubs. Bus and train services are excellent, but the quickest way to get around is definitely by subway or streetcar.

Tokaido Shinkansen: connecting Tokyo in two hours – with connections to major cities such as Kyoto, Nagoya, Yokohama, Shin-Yokohama, and Shizuoka.

Osaka International Airport: flights to China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Korea, and all major Japanese cities.

Rinku Town: JR Nanba and Osaka Metro Midosuji Line with direct access to Umeda and Tennoji areas – only 13 minutes from Shin-Osaka Station!

Outlying Areas.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Shin-Osaka Station is a significant stop on the shinkansen line, which connects Osaka with Tokyo. From Shin-Osaka Station, it’s a short and convenient 12-minute ride to Umeda by JR Line or 7 minutes by Midosuji subway line.

Other areas close to Rinku Town include:

JR Shin-Osaka Station JR Shin-Imamiya Station Kintetsu Osaka Namba Station Tennoji Subway Station Umeda Subway Station

Kansai International Airport: flights to Korea, Taiwan, China, and all major Japanese cities.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the most popular aquariums in Japan. Universal Studios Japan: a theme park and water park.

Side Trips from Osaka.

  • Kyoto: 50 minutes
  • Kanazawa: 2 hours
  • Takayama: 1.5 hours
  • Hiroshima: 3-4 hours
  • Kobe (on the coast): 30 minutes
  • Yokohama: 1 hour
  • Fukuoka City (on the beach): 4.5 hours.

What To do in Osaka.

Osaka Beach Park · Playland (also called Yomiuri Land) · Tennoji Zoo

The Umeda Sky Building

The Nakanoshima Island Bridge & Minato Museum of Art – Get a front-row seat to see the sunset over Osaka from this ultra-modern architecture wonder.

Osaka Shrines.

Shitennoji Osaka
Shitennoji Osaka

Osaka is a huge city, so unless you have plenty of time to focus your sightseeing around one area.

If you’re planning to be in Osaka for just a few days, the most crucial shrine to visit would be Senso-Ji in Namba – maybe combine it with Shinsekai if you’re interested in seeing temples and traditional wooden buildings.

Kita Dojo is another popular place to visit in the Namba area, but it’s a much smaller shrine, so it doesn’t get as busy.

Kishibojin is an interesting little temple that’s definitely worth checking out if you’re already in Tennoji – otherwise, take the Midosuji subway line and get off at Tennoji station, then walk 10 minutes up the hill.

Food In Osaka.

Osaka is a great place to try Japanese food, especially Osaka-style dishes such as Okonomiyaki (a kind of pancake with various toppings) and Takoyaki (dumplings filled with octopus). Another local specialty is Kushikatsu – deep-fried meat and vegetables on skewers.

Sushi is also trendy in Osaka.

Bars · Clubs & Karaoke.

There is a massive variety of bars in Osaka – many are located around Namba (the city’s nightlife district), while others are spread across the rest of the town.

The music and entertainment styles are very diverse – in addition to Japanese and Western-style clubs, popular choices include Jazz bars, piano bars, Rock music venues, and even Irish pubs.

Osaka Hotels.

There are a wide variety of hotels in Osaka – from the high-end to the bargain budget. Here are some points to keep in mind:

1) Central Hotel Osaka – a hotel with all the comforts of home in an excellent location near Shin-Imamiya Station (New Trains). They also offer free internet access.

2) Granvia – another good option if you’re looking for something quieter but still convenient for transportation. It’s a 4-minute walk from Shin-Imamiya Station, and they also have free internet access (including wireless).

Kosaza Ryokan – another place that offers cheap accommodation near Namba.

Osaka Onsen.

Like many Japanese cities, Osaka has dozens of onsen – hot springs considered a significant part of the culture. There are several famous onsens in Osaka, but it’s more convenient to stick with those near Umeda or Namba.

If you want convenience and don’t care about price, there are two options: the high-end Hotel Monterey Namba and the budget comfort of the Toyoko Inn.

The Toyoko Inn is a good choice for singles or people traveling alone (you can rent twin rooms with bunk beds) since you won’t have to pay more money just because of your gender. The hotel also has free internet access.

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