Osaka is a city with a regional identity that is a little different from other parts of Japan. The city has a similar hustle and bustle to Tokyo but may appear to lack the same sophistication. It also has Osaka Castle but doesn’t quite have the same culturally immersive feel as Kyoto with it’s myriad of stunning shrines and temples. However, Osaka more than makes up for all of this with it’s amazing space age architecture, eclectic street culture, extremely diverse, delicious food scene and jaw dropping labyrinths of underground shopping malls!
Even with the limited amount of time we had to explore the city, it didn’t take long to fall in love with it! I definitely will return many many more times to try all the amazing restaurants and eateries.
Here is a brief 24 hour guide to why I fell in love with Osaka.
We considered staying at either the Hyatt Regency Osaka or Swisshotel Nankai. We had some great recommendations from friends to stay at Swisshotel Nankai. The hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the city near the Dontoburi canal area and a few minutes walk from Nankai Namba station.
We decided in the end to stay at the Hyatt Regency Osaka as we had planned to visit Universal Studios and the Osaka Aquarium. Being on a limited time schedule the hotel is conveniently situated near both locations. There is also a convention centre nearby where large events are held such as cosplay, concerts etc.
The hotel is located 5 minutes from Cosmosquare station which is the last stop on the line. The hotel also has a shuttle bus service to JR Osaka Station (25min) and an airport limousine bus from Kansai International Airport (50min).
The lobby inspires a feeling of sophistication and the whole hotel reminds me of luxury and sophistication out of Mad Men or The Great Gatsby. We stayed in a Suite which had majestic harbour views.
The hotel has many personalised touches, one of my favourite being a set of kimono robes to wear for the duration of our stay and traditional tea set to make our own Japanese tea. It was a welcome change from the usual white hotel bathrobes.
Before heading off to dinner, we enjoyed a drink and gourmet snacks at the Bay Lounge. It is located on the 28th floor, the Bar Lounge offers panoramic views over Osaka bay and the city skyline.
One of the highlights of our stay was the hotel’s whisky tasting experience at the lounge which I would highly recommend if you are somebody like my husband who really enjoys his whisky. He managed to try some hard to obtain local Japanese whisky’s. The Japanese have been quietly perfecting their own version of the spirit and it tends to have a lighter and sweeter profile from its Scottish counterparts which I find tend to be much heavier and smokier.
Umeda Sky Building – This is one of my favourite places to take in all of Osaka. The building itself is a work of modern art for all you architectural fiends and the floating garde on the 40th floor and the observatory on the top of the building offers panoramic 360 degree views of the city.
It really does offer unparalleled views of the city and there is a bar and restaurant there to appreciate the night views of Osaka and Kobe.
The streets of Dotonburi is the image of Osaka I get when I imagine the city. This is definitely one of the most popular tourist destinations in the city and the street runs in parallel to the Dotonburi canal which lights up with all the restaurant lights at night. I would highly recommend that you head to the area for dinner as the street is filled at night with people and you will see all the famous neon lights and mechanical signs. The most distinct signs include the large moving crab and the Glico running man.
EAT & DRINK
Kinguemon – There is some fantastic ramen in Osaka. We ended up at one in the Dotonbori area this trip. Kinguemon is one of the most popular ramen shops in Osaka for its exceptional shoyu based ramen. We highly recommend one of the most popular menu items Osaka Black. We really enjoyed this black sesame ramen.
Okonomiyaki Sennichimae Hatsuse – Something a little fun and a little rowdy is the Okonomiyaki Sennichimae Hatsuse restaurant. This is a great place to go with a bunch of friends as all the rooms are private rooms with a cook top table. The food is at a great price and you are guaranteed to have a cheap and cheerful time especially cooking up your own okonomiyaki. They even provide you with instructions in English on the cooking technique for those who are trying this for the first time!
Underground shopping mall – Don’t miss out on visiting the myriad of alleys and laneways of the underground shopping mall under Osaka city. There are many shops and eateries and we managed to find a delicious sushi bar that served fresh oysters. The easiest way to find this undergroud shopping mall is to go under JR Osaka Station and through the Hankyu department store (a luxury shopping mall near Osaka station). The basement of Hankyu department store has really beautifully packaged snacks that you can bring home as gifts or enjoy yourself! Japanese packaging is unparalleled, even if you are simply purchasing prawn crackers, it is so beautifully wrapped. I felt like I was having my purchase wrapped at Chanel.
Shinsaibashi Shopping area – Great place to spot all the latest fashion trends and has a combination of department stores, trendy boutiques and a number of retail shopping chains.
Read about my guide to 48 hours in Kyoto.