Did you know that the hotspot for tourism in western Japan is changing from Kyoto to Osaka? Tokyo has the most foreign visitors staying multiple nights with Osaka in 2nd place and Kyoto dropping to 4th (according to the Japan Tourism Agency). Osaka is most popular with Koreans and Taiwanese. But why on earth is this? Osaka is showing a record-breaking amount of activity from foreign tourists. They’re drawn in by a surprising attraction.
Kuromon Ichiba Market Thriving Thanks to Asian Tourists Most Popular: Fugu Sashimi and Fruits
Osaka’s Kuromon Market is appropriately nicknamed the “Kitchen of Japan.” About 600 meters south from Nanba Sennichimae around 180 stores from fresh fish to fruits and restaurants line the way. Kuromon Ichiba Market has a nearly 200-year-old history filled with a true Japanese atmosphere where you can enjoy eating as you walk and is very popular with Asian foreign tourists. Here you can eat crab sashimi and tuna, sea urchin and other croquettes and tempura and traditional Japanese sweets.
And most popular among them all is fugu (blowfish). It’s an illegal import in Hong Kong so they cannot eat it. Figs and chocolate-vine are a novelty to Chinese and it’s often their first time to see live eels. Sweet, juicy fruits aren’t just popular with Japanese women–Chinese women love them too.
A Triumph of the Future!? "Umeda Sky Building" Chosen in Top 20 Buildings of the World
Next is the “Umeda Sky Building” in Umeda. The top of the two skyscrapers (about 170 meters tall) are connected with an eccentric design of a “hanging garden,” circular sky viewing platform receives great praises of “cool!” from foreign tourists. The Umeda Sky Building is the only place to be included in the “Top 20 Buildings of the World,” alongside historically famous structures such as the Parthenon, Colesium, San Marco Cathedral and the Sagrada Família. The “hanging gardens” at the top of the skyscraper are a rare alfresco-type viewing platform. And in winter beautiful lights are strung for your viewing pleasure, giving it a romantic atmosphere that’s perfect for a date.
Eccentric Osakan Souvenirs! See Zenmai Taro at "Ichibirian Dotombori"
The name of these gaudily dressed doll is “Kuidaore Taro.” This doll is a sandwich board advertiser playing the drums or a musical instrument and is a popular tourist gift representing Osaka. “Kuidaore” means “become poor from spending all your money on food and drink” and is a popular saying in Osaka with its abundant food culture. Dotombori with its cheap and good restaurants is Osaka’s greatest tourist spot and also a place to find new and eccentric souvenirs.
Among Those I Recommend “Naniwa Meibutsu Ichibirian Dotombori.” Inside it is established as Japan’s first official shopfor Kuidaore Taro and you can also see the cute Zenmai Taro. There are many unique character goods to make you laugh. This fun isn’t just for Japanese and it will definitely lift the spirits of foreign tourists too!
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Osaka Castle: The Representative of Osaka Beautiful Contrasted with Sakura
Osaka Castle is the symbol of Osaka. It’s a tourist spot and many visit it. Osaka Castle was built in the late 16th Century but was destroyed several times. The current castle tower was restored in 1931. The original castle was 5 times bigger and in modern-day money cost 3,130 billion yen to build. What a shock!
The view from the 8th floor tower is great and they also display historical items on each floor starting with the history of the castle as well as katana and helmets from that time period and rare documents. The prettiest time to see Osaka Castle is in early April. The contrast of the magnificent stonewall and beautiful tower with the sakura blossoms is fantastic and definitely a sight to see.
Smile as you Eat! Happiness Ramen at "Hanamaruken Nanba Hozenji"
Finally, Last but not Least, Feel Happiness in Osaka. It’s called “Happiness Ramen” and it’s the featured ramen from “Hanamaruken Nanba Hozenji,” a restaurant managed by the Arawa Pork Group. Tonkotsu (simmered pork belly and bones) is carefully stewed for over 12 hours and the soup broth is condensed with fermented soy sauce from Shodoshima. The noodles are medium-fine and the melt-in-your-mouth bites of roasted pork fillet are truly superb. Not to mention the large comes with a boiled egg (1) and kimchi free-of-charge. On the seaweed is written “May Happiness Come.” It’s bound to come now!
In the store the sight of so many foreign Asian tourist couples stand out and their smiling faces as they eat ramen is striking. It’s typical when you talk of Japanese food popular with foreigners to say sushi, tempura or shabushabu but nowadays Japanese ramen is in a boom. In Taiwan, there are more ramen than sushi restaurants. Hanamaruken Nanba Hozenji is near Hozenji Temple where masses of people gather for their faith and is located inside the downtown Sennichimae arcade. It’s open 24-hours so you’re free to visit anytime without worry.
There are about 3 million foreign tourists who visit Osaka now. Recently it’s risen by 30% a year, making it a very popular spot. A big draw to Osaka is its cheap goods and delicious foods. The “Osaka Tour Pass,” allowing those within Osaka city to ride trains and buses as much as they’d like, is not just for Japanese. There’s also a “2-Day Tour Pass for Foreigners” just for them that is very well-liked. If you show your pass then you don’t need to pay entrance fees to the hanging gardens’ viewing platform (Umeda Sky Building), the Osaka Castle Tower or Tsutenkaku. How could you pass up such an affordable trip to Osaka?
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