Osaka really is a hyper-mega-epic-super city of Japanese craziness. On quick visits it may be easy to flip from sight to sight and interpret Osaka as just another Tokyo copy, but linger a little longer, get under the city’s skin, and Osaka will show you it has its own magic to offer.
There is loads to see and do in Osaka. We only had 4 days there, and one of which we did a day trip to Nara, so in 3 days we tried to cover as many key tourist sights as possible whilst spending as much time as we could in some of Osaka’s districts and neighborhoods.
Of the sights we visited it was Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky Building and Hitachi tower (the Tsutenkaku, “Tower Reaching Heaven”) that stuck out to us. Osaka Castle gave a wonderful glimpse into Japanese history of warring emperors and diamyos with its lovingly restored gatehouses, turrets and warehouses. A beautiful and fascinating place.
The Umeda Sky Building and Hitachi Tower show off more modern architectural might of the Japanese. Both have observation decks at the top, but we were happy with viewing the towers themselves from ground level.
We also made our way to check out the building for Osaka’s aquarium. It’s a beautiful building with a retro video game-esque underwater scene design covering it’s bottom half. The area it’s in is a real tourist trap and as well as the aquarium there’s a huge Ferris wheel to check out.
Whilst the sights were good, it was when aimlessly wandering the neighbourhoods that we fell in love Osaka. As opposed to Tokyo we felt the neighbourhoods were more specialised and readily identifiable where you could emerse yourself in Japanese pop culture.
The magna/animie neighbourhood, Nipponbashi, was loud and proud of it’s colourful, wild and sometimes seedy identity.
The hipster neighbourhood, Amerikamura, oozed cool and quirky; streets lined with vintage shops, designer street signs and street art covered walls.
The entertainment neighbourhood, Ebisu Higashi, is full of small restaurants and bars with lively streets crammed with people searching for a few cold ones and plenty of laughs.
The futuristic neighbourhood of Dotonbori was neon galore and fast paced entertain tempo.
We loved just walking around these areas and soaking it in.
And that is what made Osaka for us. It is a hyper-mega-epic-super city to rival Tokyo and is proud of who it is and is ready to share its culture and identity with you. We’d love to go back and spend longer in this city, not seeing anything specific, just the city, the people and it’s vibe. Until next time Osaka.