June 17, 2015


Osaka(大阪), located in the Kansai(関西)Region, is the 2nd most important city in Japan. It would have been Japan's capital if Tokugawa Ieyasu hadn't taken over Toyotomi Hideyoshi's rule.

Osaka is only less than half an hour train ride from Kobe, where I was living in. Although Kobe is pretty self-sufficient, there were a few things that I had to travel to Osaka for (at least once a month), such as concerts/performances/festivals, Ichiran Ramen (currently available), Sekai no Yamachan Chicken Wings, Yamachan Takoyaki, Pastel pudding etc. Lost count of the number of times I've been to Osaka.

Osaka people are known to be warm and loud, which I like. When I returned to Japan for travel after my stay in Kobe ended, Osaka really felt like home the moment I stepped out of the station gates, very different vibe compared to that of Tokyo.

Other than food such as Takoyaki (Octopus Balls), Okonomiyaki (Japanese Pancake) and Kushikatsu (the fried version of Yakitori), like Tokyo, Osaka offers many shopping choices, such as Shinsaibashi(心斎橋)/ Namba(難波), Abeno Harukas / Tennoji(天王寺) & Umeda(梅田)/ Osaka area.

Notable attractions I visited over the 2 years include Universal Studios Japan, Osaka Aquarium, Osaka Castle, Instant Noodles Museum, Shinsekai and Tenjinbashi Suji.

Visiting USJ during the Halloween period was fun! The "zombies" roaming the streets were really aggressive. Witnessed some of them closing up on a lady and she looked so traumatized like she was going to cry. The pavements were out of bounds for the zombies, so I made sure my feet were on them all the time :P The queues for the limited-period haunted houses were long. I queued around 3 hours for one of them. Though it was really fun!

Osaka Aquarium(海遊館)is one of the best aquariums in Japan, personally rank it just after Okinawa's.

Osaka Castle(大阪城)was originally ordered to be built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi(豊臣秀吉), Japan's 2nd great unifier. The current one was reconstructed in 1931. Even though it looks very modern, it is still worth visiting as there is much information (in good English too) and artifacts inside about the castle and Japan's history. Osaka Castle is also a popular site for sakura viewing. And it is beside Osaka-jo Hall, where I often went for concerts.

Osaka's Instant Noodles Museum is smaller than the Cup Noodles Museum in Yokohama(横浜), but visitors can also make their own cup noodles, a pretty interesting experience!

Shinsekai(新世界)gives off the vibe of a Pachinko parlor. Other than the Tsutenkaku(通天閣) tower, the neighborhood appears kind of shady. There are narrow streets with izakaya(居酒屋)and kushikatsu eateries. Been warned by local friends that there are many homeless people nearby, so safety seems like a concern. Though I find this place kind of interesting, due to the contrast with the safe image Japan generally has.

Tenjinbashi Suji's(天神橋筋)shopping street is said to be the longest shopping arcade in Japan. Went there for Rakugo 落語 (traditional Japanese comic storytelling) show at Tenma Tenjin Hanjo Tei, Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, and Tenmangu Shrine(天満宮)nearby for a Umeshu Festival. The shrine is also known for being the venue of the annual Tenjin Festival(天神祭り).

I have not had the chance to go for this festival yet, though I went to Danjiri Matsuri in Kishiwada(岸和田)also in Osaka, the most exciting festival I have seen so far, whereby floats with wheels make sharp turns at high speeds (with people standing on them!) The festival goes on even if it rains.

Other visits to Osaka include Banpaku Memorial Park(万博記念公園)for SID's 10th anniversary tour in 2013 and cherry blossom viewing in Spring 2017, Shinsaibashi for VAMPS' photo exhibition and Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium for Live Sumo(相撲).

Flowers were also one of my reasons for going to Osaka. Went to Kitashiro Park(北城公園)for Japanese Iris(花菖蒲)in June, Maishima(舞洲)for lilies in June and Mint Bureau for Cherry Blossom Lane(桜の通り抜け)in mid-April. Bloom timings differ every year, so it is important to check before going.

For food, Yamachan's Takoyaki is not to be missed. (The other foods mentioned earlier are awesome too, though they do not originate from Osaka.) I also frequented Cumin, a restaurant/bar in Namba(難波)that serves delicious curry rice/Italian cuisine with wine!  


Post a Comment