Osaka unraveled

A look into Osaka’s history

Incorporated in 1889, Osaka City lies on the main island of Honshu, roughly the center of Japan. It is the second largest metropolitan area in Japan after Tokyo with a population of 2.5 million people. The Osaka prefecture houses 8.7 million residents, representing 7% of the nation’s total population. Osaka is all home to 10% of all non-Japanese residents.

Osaka’s history is the reason behind its rich culture. The prefecture naturally grew into a flourishing economic area that eventually became a gateway for travelers, traders and foreigners into Japan. With visitors coming in from Korea, China, and other Asian countries, Osaka became a place where not just goods were traded but knowledge as well. This slowly helped the development of the culture, new technologies in ceramics, construction, forging and engineering. Osaka also became an avenue for Buddhism to enter Japan which very quickly spread to the rest of the nation.

Part of this rich history and culture is how Osakan people conduct themselves. They way they bathe, travel, commune, commute and every aspect of their etiquette is excellent.

Braving the Osaka weather

Osaka is definitely a sight to see whatever season you happen to visit on as the seasons completely change as the year goes by. These wonderful weather conditions offer people a plethora of things to do whether it be picnicking under cherry trees during the spring, walking among autumn’s golden trees, enjoying the winter snow or preparing for summer festivals around the area. Temperature around Osaka averages around 6 degrees in winter, 15 degrees C in the spring, 20 degrees C in autumn and 28 degrees C in summer.

Arrival at the Osaka airport

Visitors to Osaka would arrive at the Kansai International Airport which is located on a man-made island located south of Osaka. Kansai International Airport is one of Japan’s most important international airports as it is centrally located and it caters to both international and domestic flights.

The airport has two terminals. The main terminal serves both domestic and international flights. There is also a railway station located adjacent to it for tourists’ easy access. The 2nd terminal meanwhile, serves low-cost airlines with fewer bus connections and no train service. The 2nd terminal is connected to the main terminal and the railway station via a free shuttle bus.

There are a number of ways people can reach central Osaka from the Kansai International Airport (KIX). One is by the Haruka express trains which take about 30 minutes to reach Tennoji and 50 minutes to Shin-Osaka station. Tickets cost 2200 yen and 3000 yen respectively for reserved seats. Other train options include the JR Airport Line, Nankai “Rap:t”, and the Nankai Airport Express. Limousine Buses are also available as well as Ferry rides that connect to Kobe airport.
The hotel Nikko Kansai Airport is the nearest hotel to the Kansai airport.

Osaka also has another airport but it only caters to domestic flights. This may be an option for visitors if they want to visit other parts of the country. Traveling to Osaka International Airport is fairly easy as there are a number of ways to reach the airport. One would be by train or monorail which takes about 30 minutes through the Osaka Monorail. Another is by bus which takes about the same time as the train.

The comforts of staying at an Osakan hotel

With Osaka being one of the main travel destinations in Japan, there are a lot of places available for tourists and visitors to visit. Tourists and visitors may choose from a variety of accommodations present in the prefecture. May it be from high-end hotels to backpacker inns to the ever famous capsule hotels of Japan, Osaka has it all.

Hotels are abundant around the Osaka area for tourists to choose from. Famous international hotels such as the Bellevue and Crowne Plaza are easily accessible as they are located near the airport and at the center of the city respectively. The Courtyard by Marriott is only a minute walk away from the Shin-Osaka station, the central station in the southern part of Osaka. Other than that, there are other less expensive hotels near the airport such as the City Hotel Airport which is only 12 minutes away KIX.

Business hotels are also available and located strategically near business districts and train stations.

While the previously mentioned hotels pack quite a punch to the wallet, there are also budget friendly hotels around the Osaka area for frequent travelers and backpackers. There are two backpacker hotels in Osaka, the Shin-Osaka Youth Hostel which is a 7-minute walk away from the Shin-Osaka station costs only 4,700 yen/ person for shared rooms. The Osaka Municipal Nagai Youth Hostel offers excellent access to the city, and to Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe as well. A night only costs 3,600 yen/ person. It is also equipped well to accommodate large groups which could be a plus when traveling with friends.

Ryokans or guest houses are available all around Osaka for people who want to spend their time in the comforts of a home. Some even offer hot springs inside the house such as the Fudouguchikan while even bringing your meals to your room. The Fushioukaku meanwhile is located at a quiet location surrounded by greenery close to Kyoto, Osaka, and Kobe. Ryokans often offer spaces with surroundings and views different from the typical city with buildings and lights. The Amami hot spring Nanten-en gives visitors a place to stay surrounded by forested mountains along the banks of a stream. They also offer hot spring bathing with accommodation for only 7000 yen including breakfast and dinner meals.

What is a visit to Japan without a stay in their ever-popular capsule hotels? This is a great place to stay in if one is only visiting for a short period and if working on a tight budget. The only downside to these capsule hotels is that they are mostly exclusive hotels, men and women would have to stay at different hotels. B&C Hotel Sun Play and the Capsule hotel Asahi plaza Shinsaibashi are some of the most famous capsule hotels around Osaka.

With more people traveling the world, the online option for booking an accommodation is always available. Airbnb is one of the most convenient ways of booking a place to stay in. Residents offer their houses for visitors to stay in for a cheap price giving them the feel of a home while away from theirs. Travelers may see photos of the places they would want to stay in as well as prices for a night and other amenities available in the area.

Visiting the famous Osaka castle

History has long been the pride of Osaka. Their remarkable culture is very evident, from their people to even their buildings. They have preserved old historical buildings most notably the Osaka castle. The prefecture continually preserves and invites people in to view medieval Japanese castles and architecture. The area is surrounded by hundreds of cherry blossom trees that bloom in the spring, filling the park’s pathways with pink petals. The Osaka castle can be found at 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture, a few minutes away from the Kansai International Airport.

Marine life at the Osaka aquarium

Japan is surrounded by massive bodies of water, and with this, they know how to preserve marine life. Just around Osaka, there is an aquarium tourists and families can visit. It can even be a place for educational trips of students. The aquarium is made up of a great number of marine life including those that live in the Pacific Ocean and Antarctica, the Great Barrier Reef and Monterey Bay. It houses different aquatic species in different tanks with whale sharks being the central attraction of the aquarium. The amazing thing about this aquarium is its concept of starting at the top floor going down so as to imitate “going deep” into the ocean. This is a sight children will surely enjoy.

Best restaurants to eat in Osaka and enjoy sushi

A trip to a foreign country isn’t complete without experiencing local food. Osaka offers quite a variety of delicacies from traditional Japanese food to local specialties. Tourists may enjoy ‘kushi-katsu’ (deep-fried skewers) in standing bars while only spending spare change. Okonomiyaki (pancake full of cabbage) and yakisoba (fried noodles) are also popular among downtown stalls. What are you waiting for? Grab those chopsticks and dig in!

High-end dining experiences may be found around the “Kappou” restaurants around the city. People in Osaka prefer to chat with the chef while their meal is being prepared, known as the “kaiseki” style dining. Dishes always contain fresh, local and seasonal ingredients with a fine balance of fish, meat and vegetables; the “suimono” (a clear broth soup) is made with Japanese “dashi” or soup stock, a base ingredient in almost all Japanese foods and pride of chefs in Osaka, where dashi culture is abundant.

Other local delicacies include sushi and takoyaki (octopus dumplings) found in stalls around the Dotonbori area.

The best Osaka ramen

Ramen is one of Japan’s most famous dishes. Different provinces have different ways and versions of cooking the sumptuous noodle dish and Osaka is one of the best destinations for it. Hokkaido Nagurikomi Ramen Betsubara is found at a residential area right by the Nishinagahori subway station. A family-run business that serves ramen Hokkaido style. They only serve up to 100 dishes a day so better be early to get the bowl when visiting. Men-ya Kurobune is also a ramen shop which offers a wide selection of ramen beyond the usual style of service. They even have a membership card which gives you a free side dish every time you visit.

Buffets in Osaka

Living a busy work-filled routine will take its on toll on people, but for the people of Osaka, they handle the stress the best way they know how, eating and drinking. Osaka is well known in the Kansai region as the city of “kuidaore” which literally translates to “eat till you drop”. A variety of restaurants and other establishments are found in Osaka.

The city lives up to its reputation by offering a plethora of buffets for people to enjoy. The Garden Oriental Osaka offers the best steak in Osaka. Found at 534-0026 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, the Garden Oriental is best known for its perfect quality food with quality service. 

Near the Tanimachiyonchome Station sits Taqueria La Fonda, the perfect mix of Japanese and Mexican cuisine. Their super delicious tacos are popular among the customers.

Traveling from Osaka to other parts of Japan

With Osaka being one of the central locations to visit, transportation to other parts of Japan is no longer a hassle. Other districts are pretty much a bus or a train ride away.

Osaka to Kyoto

Kyoto is a testament to Japan’s cultural heritage as it one of the cities filled with shrines, temples, palaces and gardens. It is also a great place to see local and cultural entertainment such as kabuki dramas. The fastest way to Kyoto is by rail. Kyoto may be reached in 29 minutes for only 560 yen via the JR Kyoto Line train. One may also opt to take the shinkansen which is faster but more expensive.

Osaka to Tokyo

No trip to Japan will be complete without visiting the capital. Traveling to Tokyo from Osaka may be done in a couple of ways. First, by train. The shinkansen or “bullet train” is the most convenient service from Osaka to Tokyo. The trip costs 13,620 yen one way. Other train alternatives include the Nozomi, Hikari, and Kodama, with the Nozomi being the fastest.

Bus companies also offer highway express bus services from Osaka to Tokyo station. Trips may take about 8 to 9 hours.

Domestic flights are also available for flying to Tokyo. Passengers may choose Osaka International airport or the Kansai International Airport. The cheapest option would be to ride Jetstar planes for 3,990 yen and the flight lasts for only 1 hour and 25 minutes.

Entertainment in Osaka: The Best Spots

Being one of the oldest capitals of Japan and having one of the richest cultures around the world, Osaka offers a variety of entertainment options both old and new for visitors to the area. From Universal Studios Japan and the only Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction down to national museums and theaters, everything is definitely a sight to see. Osaka even offers classes on playing the Taiko ( a Japanese form of drumming). Local puppet shows at the Bunraku Theatre is also a must for any tourist.