One could easily spend several days in Osaka, Japan – sight-seeing, shopping and eating delicious Japanese cuisine. But if you only have an afternoon, here are some Osaka ‘Must- See’ areas.
After Tokyo, Osaka is considered to be Japan’s second-most modern city, quite a contrast for those who have just come from neighbouring traditional Kyoto.
First on our list was escaping the throngs of people and making our way to the city’s castle, Osaka-Jo.
With its white exterior and green roof with black and gold detailing, Osaka Castle has a fairytale appearance about it, almost looking more European than Japanese. For 550 -600yen, you can head inside the castle and take the elevator straight up to the 8th floor observation area.
The view from the top is incredible. You can see for miles. On a sweltering summer day, the breeze up there is also a welcome change. Heading back down, there are displays on every floor. The seventh floor is full of information on the life of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the man who built Osaka Castle and succeeded in unifying the nation. The fifth floor was filled with scenes and information about the Summer War in Osaka. The fourth floor had artifacts from the Sengoku era and on the third floor there were facts and figures on Osaka Castle.
The castle took a thousand workers three years to build in 1583. At the time it was thought to be indestructible, yet 32 years later it was destroyed in battle. The current castle was built in 1931.
The area surrounding the castle has food stands and a souvenir shop as well as a small garden to wander through. As you make your way back down the hill, the large park surrounding the castle grounds is a nice place to spend some time wandering through the gardens. Or, if you brought your sneakers, you can join the hundreds of runners that fill the park.
Osaka was almost bombed flat during WWII, but has been built back up and is now filled with both indoor and outdoor markets, arcades, shops and restaurants.
Osaka is divided into a couple main areas – Kita, the center of retail and business by day, and Minami – the place to spend the evening. Here, everything comes alive under the neon glow of lights and the delicious smells wafting from the many restaurants (get off at either Namba or Shinsaibashi station).
The Namba region certainly lights up as the sun sets becoming The Times Square of Japan. Bright lights, huge signs, shops, and restaurants open late into the night. If you’re looking for nightlife this is also the place to find Osaka’s most popular bars and clubs. Everywhere you look a neon sign is welcoming you to come in and enjoy. Until you get your bearings the whole area can definitely be a sensory overload, but once your eyes adjust, you’ll notice that this area hosts some of the greatest signs you’ve ever seen!
After a meal of the best sushi I’ve ever had and a stroll through the maze of neon lights, it was time to catch our bus.
Our afternoon in Osaka was a great overview, but I’ll have to make my way back and see what other gems this modern Japanese city has to offer.