Osaka is a special place. Of all the places I’ve visited in Japan, this place stood out to me the most. In all reality, most cities in Japan start to look very similar to one another after a while but what makes Osaka so special is the food and the people. There are of course many cool things to see and do in Osaka but interacting with the locals and trying out some of Kansai’s awesome cuisine while living in Osaka was among my most favorite experience.
I like to draw the comparison that Tokyo is like New York and Osaka is like Los Angeles, and since i’m originally from California calling Osaka home came easy. I had a great time getting to know this city and exploring the fun things to do on the weekends. I’ve compiled a list of things not to miss during any trip to Osaka. There is no particular order on to which to explore first or last, these are just some of the fun things I did and the awesome places I saw (more than once) throughout my stay in this vibrant city.
There are many fascinating and amusing things to see throughout all of Osaka, you just have to keep your eyes up and have your camera at the ready. I ran into the Naruto Displays in the Namba Subway Station for example. The Tower of the Sun and Gundam Statues are easily found in Expo Commemoration Park in Suita, Osaka.
Dotonbori is a very popular travel destination for foreign tourist. It runs next to the Dotonbori Canal, located in the Namba District. It is an electric city square that allures all its guests with its brightly illuminated billboards and signs. The highlight is of course the famous Glico Man, the marathon runner crossing the finish line. Coincidentally this area is used for sporting events. Sports team members come here to celebrate victories and perform various sport traditions. throughout the year.
It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is, expect large crowds in this area. There are many tasty restaurants and cool souvenir shops to explore. But the highlight to this area besides the bright lights are the various food stalls. This is a prime place to try out some takoyaki (fried octopus balls), okonomiyaki (mixed savory pancake), yakiniku (grilled meat skewers), yakitori (chiken skewers) and my absolute favorites: kushikatsu (deep fried skewered meat and veggies) and sukiyaki (beef and/or pork slices with mixed veggies). There are of course other traditional foods like ramen, udon, soba and tempura readily found. These are just a few of the various eats worth trying when in this area. Osaka is recognized as the food capital of Japan, and for very good reason!
Universal Studios Japan (USJ)
Osaka’s USJ is much like its counterpart found in Los Angeles but not as good. It’s worth the visit if you love amusement parks or have some free time to spare but it’s not worth it if you are on a tight schedule and or budget, in my opinion. There is a rumor that the World of Nintendo will be invading USJ in 2020, it’ll be much more awesome when that happens. The entrance fee is a bit on the high side, 8,000 円 and the park itself isn’t as large as the one found in LA. The Hogwarts attraction was very cool but still not enough to convince me that it was worth the cost, plus most of the attractions are fully in Japanese. It was really strange to see and hear Harry Potter speaking fluent Japanese!
Kaiyukan (Osaka Aquarium)
We had a very nice time visiting the Osaka Aquarium. The entrance fee is a bit on the high side, 4,000 円 , and it’ll take about 2-3 hrs to see everything. The layout is really cool as you start from the top and make your through the entire facility, you walk around the main aquarium and see where the whale sharks live (there are three). There are a lot of other exhibits that you’ll get to explore as you make your way through. Cosmo Square is a really nice area worth exploring and there is even an Osaka Bay Cruise available. I have fond memories of this day for various reasons. I am really glad we got the chance to check it out.
When I found out that Osaka was home to an Owl Cafe I knew I couldn’t pass up the chance to go. I love animals and I rejoice any time I get the chance to hang out with my furry, fluffy or feathery friends. I especially love owls since I’ve been told that I resemble them in appearance and characteristic! It’s best to make a reservation as it can get quite busy and the visiting hours are preset. You can show up early and sign up for whatever time is available or call ahead to make a reservation. Expect to pay 1,500 円 per guest which include a sub par hot beverage. You’ll be able to hang out with the really easy going owls that are quite accustomed to being around people for about an hour. This was my most favorite memory during my time in Osaka, that is because unknown to me at the time, it would be one of my last good memories in Osaka.
It was really awesome to call Osaka home and have these places so nearby, most of these place were just a train ride or two away. Osaka sure offers its guest a lot and will long be my home away from home. I’ll be back some day that is certain. Happy Travels!