Japan’s second most important city, Osaka, is the driving force behind the country’s strong economy. Osaka is the third largest city in Japan after Tokyo and Yokohama, and has a predominantly urban landscape. Widely regarded as a shopping and food paradise, Osaka has earned its place as a popular travel destination in Japan.
Osaka has two key city centres: Kita (“North”) and Minami (“South”). Both are well known for business, retail and entertainment. Start shopping at Shinsaibashi Suji, one of Osaka’s oldest shopping locations, stretching 600 metres from Kita to Minami. Visit Amerikamura, a fashion district with hundreds of boutiques, popular among youths for affordable shopping. Nearby, the Horie and Minami-senba areas provide great shopping for the older crowd. Other specialised shopping districts include Nipponashi’s Den Den Town, selling electronic products for gamers, and Doguya Suji, for chefs and aspiring cooks. From budget-friendly shopping in Tenjinbashi Suji, the 2.6km long shopping arcade, to Minami’s high-end departmental stores, Osaka packs an arsenal of retail destinations that are sure to keep shoppers happy and occupied.
Besides shopping, Osaka is a food haven. The full extent of the locals’ love for good food is exemplified in the Japanese term kuidaore, which means ‘eat till you drop’ in English. Famous Osakan treats include Takoyaki (grilled octopus) doused in mayonnaise and sprinkled with Katsuobusi (dried bonito flakes); a stuffed pancake called Okonomiyaki; skewered meat and vegetables, battered and deep fried, known as Kushikatsu; and many more. Besides street food, Kitsune Udon and Teppanyaki in Japan is a must-try. The former is a steaming bowl of tasty thick wheat noodles, adorned with fried tofu, and the latter an assortment of food cooked on an iron griddle. In Teppanyaki restaurants, take in huge whiffs of mouthwatering aromas as the chef prepares your meals before your eyes. Begin your food conquest at Dotonbori, a downtown area packed with rows of restaurants and roadside stalls serving authentic Japanese cuisine. Panels of flashing signboards and floodlit neon lights bring the district to life at nightfall.
The reconstructed Osaka Castle is a popular attraction, especially during cherry blossom season in early April. Many flock to the surrounding Nishinomaru Garden for a perfect view of the hundreds of cherry trees in full bloom. Apart from the Osaka Castle Park, Universal Studios and Osaka Aquarium are also commonly visited places of interest for tourists.
Trains are undoubtedly the best way to travel around in Japan. With Osaka’s developed public transport system, getting around the city is quick and stress-free. More than seven different railway and subway companies operate the network, making most areas of Osaka accessible by train. To get from one city centre to another, simply take a short ride on the subway. JR West, Nankai, Hankyu, Kintetsu, Kanshin and Keihan Railways also provide transport to locations like Kansai Airport, Kobe, Kyoto, Universal Studios, and many more. Buy a one-day pass for unlimited access to subway and city bus services.
To travel out of Osaka to other parts of Japan, take the iconic Shinkansen (high speed bullet trains) for an interesting experience. Purchase a Japan Rail Pass to utilise this world-class service.
Get onboard a direct flight to Osaka on international carriers like Japan Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates and more. Flights from Singapore to Kansai International are even more affordable on budget airlines like Jetstar.
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