Ōsaka (map) is the third largest city in Japan. If Tokyo is Japan’s capital, one might call Osaka its anti-capital. Whatever you call it, though, there are many opportunities for you to discover its true anti-character.
Osaka is known for its food, in Japan and abroad. Author Michael Booth and food critic François Simon of Le Figaro have suggested that Osaka is the food capital of the world.
Its location makes Osaka a perfect base for doing one-day trips to nearby cities like Kyoto (30 minutes), Kobe (20 minutes), Nara (40 minutes) or Himeji (1 hour). (Typical times shown on JR Trains)
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Minami (大阪 ミナミ) The traditional commercial and cultural center, composed of the Chuo (中央区, map) and Naniwa (浪速区, map) wards. Namba (なんば, 難波, map) is the main railway station, and the surrounding area has the department store and showy shopping. Shinsaibashi (心斎橋, map) and Horie (堀江) is the fashion area. Dōtonbori (道頓堀, map) is the best place to go for a bite to eat.
Spa World (map). Gender-separated European and Asian-themed spas and saunas as well as a pool for the family with slides and fun (don’t forget your swimming trunks). Open 24 hr so it is handy if you’re stuck for accommodation or locked out of your hotel after a night on the town, just pay up, change into their cotton overalls and pass out on one of their comfy leather recliners with as many blankets as you like.
Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street (天神橋筋商店街 Tenjinbashi-suji Shōtengai, map) is said to be the longest straight and covered shopping arcade in Japan at approx. 2.6 km length. Nothing meant for sightseeing, the arcade is a live exhibition of Osaka’s daily life, open since Edo period.
There are many nightlife districts in Osaka >> Dotonbori (道頓堀, map) + Kitashinchi (北新地, map). This area, south of JR Osaka station, is the most famous nightclub and entertainment district of contemporary Osaka. It’s just like Tokyo’s Ginza, filled with many hundreds of high-class bars, clubs and small restaurants.
The widest selection of restaurants is in Osaka’s main entertainment districts, with the highest concentration of all in the Umeda (map) and Dotombori (map) areas.
Even in a nation of obsessive gourmands Osaka is known as an excellent place to eat, exemplified by the Osakan maxim kuidaore, “eat yourself into ruin”. The best place for trying out kuidaore is probably Dōtonbori (道頓堀) and neighboring Hōzenji-yokochō (法善寺横町, map) or Soemon-cho (宗右衛門町, map), the whole area containing nearly nothing but one restaurant after another.