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Travel guide – Osaka

Like many other Japanese cities, Osaka is a mixture of old and new, where visitors are as likely to find the latest fashion trends as traditional kimonos. Many of the city’s historical monuments were destroyed during World War II, but many have been rebuilt in their original style to offer an attractive contrast to the otherwise industrial landscape. The Japanese lovingly refer to Osaka as “the kitchen of Japan,” as this is a city where the focus is on food, and the culinary delicacies are based on tradition. With superb shopping and eclectic nightlife, Osaka is a city that never sleeps.

Whether you are interested in culture, shopping or just enjoying the spectacular views of the city, Osaka offers visitors a host of things to do.

Umeda Sky Building – gives you a thrilling experience and a magnificent view over Osaka. This spectacular building contains a rooftop floating garden observatory and a breathtaking escalator that connects the building’s two main towers. A visit is highly recommended.

Osaka Castle – a reproduction of a majestic 16th-century castle surrounded by an abundance of cherry blossoms. For additional beautiful historical buildings and lush parks in Osaka you might visit Sumiyoshi taisha shrine, the island Nakanoshima or The Open-Air Museum of Old Japanese Farmhouses.

National Bunraku Theatre – entertainment by traditional Japanese puppets (Bunraku).

Spa World – do what the Japanese people do and enjoy a traditional bath in a hot spring (Onsen) – open 24/7.
Note that no tattoos allowed, if you have a tattoo (and can’t hide it) you may not be allowed inside.

Tsūtenkaku – a beautifully reconstructed tower in the Shinsekai district. (Visitors should note, however, that this is regarded as a slightly edgier part of the city but is, however, generally safe during the day.) The Tennoji Zoo is also nearby.

Osaka’s Kaiyukan harbour – find one of the world’s largest aquariums and the world’s biggest Ferris wheel in the harbour.

Shirahama – a charming spa town located on the south side of Osaka. In the south you can find the temple mountain of Mount Kōya.

Kyoto – the former capital of Japan, this city’s well-preserved historical treasures survived World War II. Sights include the Imperial Palace and the wooden Sanjūsangen-dō temple. 15–30 minutes from Osaka by train.

Nara – less than 60 minutes by train from Osaka, the city boasts several beautiful historical cultural treasures, including numerous temples and a gigantic statue of Buddha. Nara is also famous for its tame deer roaming around, especially in Nara Park.

Hiroshima – walk in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, dedicated to the memory of those who died in the destruction of the city in World War II and learn more about one of the most tragic events in history. Travel time from Osaka is 80 minutes by bullet train and six hours on less expensive local trains.

There is no lack of shopping opportunities in Osaka. The city has it all, and here you can find a wonderful mix of the newest fashion trends, the latest technology and traditional handicrafts. Visiting Osaka’s shopping centres alone offers more experiences than many other destinations put together.

Dōtonbori and Shinsaibashi area – the city's number one shopping district. Here you can also find America Mura (American Village) the trendiest shopping spot for the younger generation along with the large Shinsaibashisuji Shopping Center.

Osaka Station City in the Umeda area – the main railway station and shopping, all in one, with fashion boutiques as well as second hand shops.

Tenjimbashi-suji Shopping Street – 2.6km of shopping and food under one roof – a famous shopping street.

Nipponbashi (Den Den Town) in Namba is all about electronic devices at reasonable prices. Bargaining is permitted here.

Note that many shops are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays whereas Sunday is the most popular shopping day.

You can expect a lot from the food in Osaka – and the city delivers. Everything under the sun is served in the food capital of Japan, but when visiting Osaka it would be a sin not to try some of the local specialties found both at street stalls and in fancy restaurants. Kuidaore (to eat oneself bankrupt) – might be the simplest way to describe Osaka's people and their obsession with food.

Takoyaki – small ball-shaped dumplings filled with scrumptious pieces of octopus (tako) and topped with takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise.

Okonomiyaki – a type of Japanese cabbage pancake with a variety of fillings usually containing seafood, vegetables and pork or cheese and then topped with takoyaki sauce.

Kushikatsu – skewered meat, seafood or vegetables dipped in egg and panko and then deep-fried. Serve with tonkatsu sauce and enjoy.

Yakiniku – Japanese barbecue that you grill at your own table.

Onigiri – rice balls filled with various stuffing. Excellent small snacks.

Sake – traditional rice wine.

Tea – especially green.

Osaka subway and trains – the best way to get around Osaka. With an extensive train network, visitors can easily venture all the way out to the city limits.

Taxi – for short journeys, taxis are an affordable and comfortable way to move around. In Japan the meter starts running faster and faster as the time goes by, so long distances and getting stuck in the traffic may cause a slight surprise when it’s time to pay.

Currency in Japan – Yen (¥)

Cash – it is a good idea to bring cash. Cards are not universally accepted, and not all ATMs accept foreign cards.

Electricity in Japan – flat-pin plugs and 100 volts are used.

Time zone – Osaka (Japan) UTC/GMT + 9hours (-1 hour during summertime in countries that use summertime/wintertime).

Don’t tip – it is considered bad manners and may be seen as an insult.

Behaviour – always be polite and remember that small presents are appreciated in the Japanese culture.

Water – tap water in Japan is clean and safe to drink.

Kansai International Airport (KIX)

The airport is located 50km southwest of Osaka.

  • Finnair flights: Terminal 1
  • Check-in opens 2 hours 30 minutes before departure
  • Check-in closes 1 hour before departure

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