Most Filipinos would say that Japan was their first trip out of the country, while others can even say that it’s become a habit at this point. There’s just something about Japan that we can’t quit, and we can never say that we know these cities by heart because coming back to Japan always has a few more surprises in store.
While Tokyo, Sapporo, Kyoto, and Nagoya are some of our favorite cities, Osaka is a city that is often explored but has a lot of things we have yet to discover. The capital city of the Osaka Prefecture, the city is divided into two areas: Kita, known as uptown, and Minami, known as downtown.
Popular tourist spots include Universal Studios, Japan where people can enjoy The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, and Minion Park among others, the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, which enthralls visitors with thousands of sea creatures including whale sharks and manta rays, the Namba Yasaka Shrine and its 12-meter high lion head statue, and Mount Tenpō, known as a great place for first time hikers and people who want to visit a traditional Japanese village.
Thrill seekers will be happy to know that they can have a fun-filled adventure jumping from one deck to another at Osaka’s many famous high-rise buildings like the Umeda Sky Building, which also gives tourists a great 360 degree view of the city at 173 meters high, the Abeno Harukas observation deck located on the 60th floor, and the Tsutenkaku Tower located at the Shinesekai district. If you’re up for a tour on water, Osaka’s Bay Area offers cruise ships and open air double-deckers that go through the bay.
“KUIDAORE” IN DŌTONBORI
History says that a merchant and entrepreneur named Yasui Dōton once planned to create a waterway connecting the Umezu River to the Kizugawa River to increase commerce and trade in the region. He unfortunately died before having his plans realized but it was thankfully carried through by his cousin. The place was named Dōtonbori in his memory.
Dōtonbori Street is one of Japan’s most popular tourist destinations and is always packed with people in search of the greatest Japanese dishes and delicacies as well as a fun night filled with beer like Muji, Shochu, Umeshu, and Sake. While Dōtonbori is best described as lively and vibrant, another term perfectly characterizes the district–“Kuidaore”, which means “ruin oneself by extravagance in food.”
Among the most famous are Zubora-ya, which specializes in serving fugu, Chibo, known for the best okonomiyaki, Pablo Cheesecake, known for their red bean green tea cheesecake tart, Kinryu Ramen, a ramen and kimchi bar that serves on tatami mats, Hariju Japanese Beef Shabu-Shabu, Kani Douraku Crab Restaurant, easily spotted by their giant billboard, Kukuru Restaurant, known for their takoyaki, and Kushikatsu Daruma, best known for their deep fried meat and vegetables kebabs and Kushikatsu sauce.
Appointed Filipino Cardinal located in the middle of the After a hearty meal, look deeper into Dōtonbori to find some amazing shopping spots like Ichibirian, Don Quijote and their famous ferris wheel, the Museum of Konamon, where you can make your own wax takoyaki, Hozenji-Yokocho Alley, a traditional Japanese bar. Shop around Shinsaibashi-suji, also known as Japan’s most popular shopping district. It’s a 600-meter long esplanade with cosmetic stores, apparel, and duty-free shops. Bookworms can visit Nakao Shoten, while sneakerheads can shop around at Onitsuka. Popular 100-yen stores like Daiso and Seria are also present as well as the tax-free authentic Japan products of Laox and international brands like Uniqlo, H&M, and Zara
THE GARDENS OF ŌSAKAJŌ CASTLE
Within the Chūō-ku ward of Japan rose Ōsakajō Castle. Standing since 1597, the castle embodied a unified Japan under the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It served as both the daimyō’s residential palace and as a defense tower. The Toyotomi clan fell in the year 1615, and the castle was reconstructed to fit the needs of the newest feudal lord. Today, it serves as a museum preserving the citadel’s antiques along with the life and works of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, hailed as Japan’s second great unifier.
The five floors of Osaka Castle house a variety of historical artifacts, written materials, weapons, armors, and cultural costumes from the Azuchi-Momoyama period. Through the use of technology, visitors can view more about the history of the items through various screen displays as well as moving dioramas of scenes from Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s life and panoramic scenes of notable events from the fortress’ history.
Another must-visit is the Nishi-no-Maru Garden also located outside the citadel. Scenic spots include an authentic Japanese tea house and the former Osaka Government Guest House. The park is also known as a popular Hanami spot during the months of March and April.
Before you head out of Osaka Castle’s premises, visitors shouldn’t miss the chance to explore the fortress’ inner and outer moats. Hire a guided boat tour and view the tall stone wall defense of the Edo-era along with a bonus view of the castle from below. Strategically built to withstand violent invasions, the stone wall is made of granite and over a million stones in many different sizes with a length of over twelve kilometers long. The moat, on the other hand, has a width ranging from seventy to ninety meters.
OSAKA FOR A GASTRONOMIC FOOD-VENTURE
Japan is truly an amazing getaway, so it’s no surprise that we choose to go back and further explore more and more of the country’s many different cities. What makes Osaka special is their unique food culture. Their traditional cuisine paired with daring experimental dishes and exceptional cooking skills make it more amazing and even more special, which is why we’d happily come back for more adventures in Osaka.