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Relish The Best Of Osaka, The Nation's Kitchen, In One Day

Rachel
Published Nov 18, 2016

Osaka Prefecture is located on the main island (Honshu) of Japan. Its prefectural capital is Osaka (大阪市), one of the largest cities in the country. During the Edo Period, Osaka served as a centre for rice trading, which earned it a nickname as the Nation’s Kitchen (天下の台所 tenka no daidokoro). Although it is no longer the merchant city for rice, Osaka is still able to maintain its reputation as a Nation’s Kitchen with the myriad of delish cuisines available. Alongside hearty street food, it is also known for modern architecture and nightlife. Let this article guide you on the best places to visit for a great day in Osaka!

Top 3 activities to book in osaka

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1. Osaka Municipal Wholesale Market Honjo - a peek in the everyday lives of food merchants

Opened in 1931, Osaka Municipal Wholesale Market Honjo is one of the largest markets in the country. The market takes up three levels in two wings of a building, where vegetables, fruits and seafood are bought and sold. This is where you can take a peek into the lives of local food merchants who wake up very early in the morning to earn their keep.

It is worth sacrificing some sleep for a morning tour filled with energetic and friendly merchants and experience the fresh gastronomic culture from its source. If you can, be at the fishery to witness the tuna auction that starts at 4.15am. It will be an eye-opening session to see all the tuna being snapped up within half an hour. Or you can make reservations to join in the 2-hour market tour that starts at 8am, allowing you to understand more about the market operations. Grab the opportunity to buy a fresh and delicious sushi breakfast here to kickstart your day too!

Osaka Municipal Wholesale Market Honjo (大阪市中央卸売市場本場)

Address: 1-1-86 Noda, Fukushima-ku, Osaka-city, Osaka Prefecture

Price: free admission.

Opening Hours: market opens from 8am but tuna auction starts at 4.15am. Closed on Sundays.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: 15-minute walk from JR Noda Station.

Contact: +81 6-6469-7850

Osaka Municipal Wholesale Market Honjo (Japanese only)

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2. Osaka Castle - the city’s historic icon

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Source: chou_i_ci

Osaka Castle (大阪城) is the historic symbol of the city, and played a significant role in the unification of Japan in the 16th century. This magnificent castle stands out because of the beauty of its stone wall, made up of 40,000 rocks in the wall. Learn more about the history as well as its great founders at the informative museum within the castle grounds. There is also a shrine dedicated to Toyotomi Hideyoshi and lots of green spaces within the castle park. Osaka Castle is one of the city’s most popular viewing spots for Sakura flowers in spring, because of the large numbers of cherry trees planted in the Nishinomaru Garden and castle park.

Osaka Castle (大阪城)

Address: 1-1, Osakajo, Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture

Price: 600 JPY (5.85 USD) to enter the castle tower, 200 JPY or 1.95 USD (350 JPY or 3.40 USD during the extended hours of the cherry blossom season) to enter the Nishinomaru Garden.

Opening Hours: please refer to official website.

Duration: around 2 hours required.

Access: 5-minute drive from Osakajokouen station

Contact: +81 6-6941-3044

Osaka Castle (大阪城)

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3. Savour local specialties in the food paradise

Mention Osaka and most people will think of it as a city with great food. The gourmand’s paradise is not just filled with fine-dining michelin-starred restaurants, but also offers a variety of savoury local specialties that are cheap and good. Top local specialties include the Takoyaki (octopus ball) and Okonomiyaki (grilled savoury pancake with a mixture of ingredients). There are numerous places in the city to try these delicacies.

Try the delicious Takoyaki with sweet-sour sauce and mayonnaise poured over it at Umaiya. This little shop has been awarded a Michelin star in the 2016 Michelin Guide Kyoto, Osaka for its excellent creation of the made-to-order golden crispy octopus balls. For a fabulous serving of the Okonomiyaki, visit Dotonbori, the most popular street food district, where you can find many great restaurants serving the Japanese pancake with your favourite ingredients.

Umaiya (for Takoyaki)

Address: 4-21 Naniwacho, Kitaku, Osaka-city, Osaka Prefecture

Price: from 1,000 JPY (9.70 USD)

Opening Hours: 11 am - 7 pm (Closed when sold out). Closed on Tuesday.

Access: 4-minute walk from Temma Station, which is about 6 minutes from Osaka station via the Osaka Loop Line.

Contact: +81 6-6373-2929

Houzenji Sanpei (for Okonomiyaki)

Address: 1-7-9 Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka-city, Osaka Prefecture

Price: from 1,000 JPY (9.70 USD)

Opening Hours: 11.30 am - 11 pm.

Access: 5-minute walk from Namba Station.

Contact: +81-50-5869-8123

Houzenji Sanpei

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4. Hozenji Yokocho - Osaka in the old days

The narrow stone-paved alley in Hozenji Yokocho makes visitors forget for a while that they are in the second-largest city in modern Japan. Be transported back in time to the Edo Period as you walk down the nostalgic alley lined with quaint little cafes and eateries. On both the east and west gates, you will find signboards with beautifully written calligraphy. The famous moss-covered Buddhist figure, Mizukake Fudo sitting in the middle of the alley, alongside the small Hozenji Temple add to the exquisite charm of this cultural street.

Hozenji Yokocho (法善寺横丁)

Address: 1-chome, Namba, Chuo-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture

Price: free admission.

Opening Hours: varies for different shops.

Duration: around 1 hour required.

Access: 5-minute walk from Namba Station.

Contact: +81 6-6211-4152

Hozenji Yokocho (Japanese only)

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5. Namba Parks - a shopping mall shaped like a natural canyon

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Source: lj16

Amidst the towering skyscrapers in the vibrant city, Namba Park feels like a refreshing change from it all with its building shaped like a natural canyon. This 120-tenant shopping mall was purposely designed as such to break away from the conventional urban landscapes. Besides the fashionable and upmarket boutiques, there is also a cinema and amphitheatre for entertainment purposes. On level 6, take your pick from the numerous restaurants serving a diverse range of cuisines. There is also a rooftop garden on level 9 for you to rest your tired feet after all the shopping.

Namba Parks

Address: 2-10-70, Nanbanaka, Naniwa-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture

Price: free admission.

Opening Hours: please refer to official website.

Access: direct connection to Namba Station south exit.

Contact: +81 6-6644-7100

Namba Parks

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6. Umeda Sky Building - get a bird’s eye view of the city

Comprising of two 40-storey towers connected by a Floating Observatory at the top, Umeda Sky Building is one of the most recognisable landmarks in Osaka. Its doughnut shaped roof provides an unobstructed panoramic view from the observatory. Get up to the Floating Observatory, 170 metres (557 feet) above ground for a breathtaking view of not just Osaka, but also as far as Awaji Island if you are lucky!

Umeda Sky Building

Address: 1-1-88 Oyodo-naka, Kita-ku, Osaka City, Osaka Prefecture

Price: 1,000 JPY (9.70 USD) per adult to the Floating Observatory.

Opening Hours: 10 am - 10:30 pm (last admission 10 pm).

Access: 10-minute walk from Osaka station.

Contact: +81 6-6440-3899

Umeda Sky Building

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7. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan - an impressive exhibit of marine life

If you are a fan of amazing marine life, the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (海遊館) is a must-see site for you in Osaka. Located in the Tempozan Harbor Village of Osaka Bay, this is one of Japan’s most spectacular aquariums housing marine life from the Pacific Rim.

There are 15 tanks in the aquarium to represent different regions of the Pacific Rim and the central Pacific Ocean tank is the most popular with huge whale sharks. Start your tour from the highest 8th floor and spiral your way down while observing the animals from different depths and perspectives!

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (海遊館)

Address: 1-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato-ku, Osaka city, Osaka Prefecture

Price: 2,300 JPY (22.40 USD).

Opening Hours: 10 am - 8 pm (last admission at 7 pm).

Access: 5-minute walk from Osakako Station.

Contact: +81-6-6576-5501

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (海遊館)

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8. Dotonbori - the top tourist destination in the city

You can’t tell your friends that you have been to Osaka if you did not step foot onto the famous Dotonbori street in Minami. It runs along the Dotonbori canal from Dotonboribashi Bridge to Nipponbashi Bridge in the Namba district of the city’s Chuo ward. Characterised by large illuminated signboards such as the famous Glico Running Man, it is more than your typical shopping and dining street.

In fact, the area becomes more fun and vibrant as it gets darker into the night. Party the night away in the many clubs and bars here. Let the entertaining show at Shochikugeino Kadoza Hiroba tickle your funny bones. Or you can even try your hand at the rock climbing wall of the Namba “Hips” building and get an awesome night view of Osaka!

Dotonbori (道頓堀)

Address: Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture

Access: 7-minute walk from Namba Station.

Dotonbori (道頓堀)

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Fall in love with Osaka

With so much cuisine to taste and interesting sights to experience, your day in Osaka will be nothing short of exhilarating and you may find yourself coming back for more in no time.

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Rachel has forgotten when and exactly how she caught the travel bug. What she does remember is the triumphant feeling she enjoys when she sees the fascinating world out there with her own eyes. She...Read more

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