Discover a whole different side to Japan on a city break in Osaka. This lively and laid back metropolis in the middle of Honshu island is perfect for a getaway whether it’s a flying visit while you’re touring the country or you’d like to stay longer to really get to know the place. Osaka is best known for its fabulous food and entertainment. Add to that a rich history, some out-there architecture and an enthusiasm for all the good things in life, and Osaka makes a great place for a holiday with a difference.
What Makes Osaka Great?With a population of 2.5 million, Osaka is the third largest city in Japan and the economic hub of the region of Kansai. It’s also an important player on the international stage, with its economy measured by GDP putting it inside the top 20 biggest cities in the world.
Osaka developed over the centuries thanks to its enviable position on the coast, at the meeting point between important river and sea routes. As far back as the fifth century, Osaka was welcoming visitors from all over Asia, and it was a gateway to the rest of Japan. Shitennoji Temple, the first Buddhist temple in the country, was established in Osaka in 593 AD, and you can still visit a temple on the same site to this day. When it was known as Naniwa, Osaka was also Japan’s first ever recorded capital.
Visit Japan’s Capital of FoodIf you were to ask someone in Japan what Osaka is known for, they’d probably refer to its enormous appetite for food. It is said that Osakans spend more on eating out than on anything else, and the city’s fabulous food culture draws visitors from all over the world. If fine dining is your thing, you can feast in Michelin-starred restaurants and sample cuisine prepared in new and innovative ways. But what’s great about some of the best food to be found in Osaka is that it’s suitable for all budgets, often having started life as street food for the masses.
To get a taste of delicious dishes such as okonomiyaki, takoyaki and kushikatsu, many visitors head for the non-stop food fest that is the Dotonbori district close to Namba station to the south of Osaka city. As well as filling your stomach, you can also feast your eyes on the mesmerising neon-light displays for a true Osaka experience.
Sightseeing Hotspots in OsakaFor a fun-packed day, Osaka’s Bay Area is hard to beat. Here you’ll find one of the country’s most popular tourist attractions at Universal Studios Japan, plus a whole host of great places to enjoy with your friends and family. Say hello to the giant whale sharks at Osaka Aquarium and ride the Ferris wheel at Tempozan Harbour Village.
To see sights you’ll only see in Osaka on your holiday, head for the open-air observation deck at the top of the Umeda Sky Building, enjoy some of Japan’s zaniest fashion trends in Amerikamura and take time out at Osaka Castle.