Osaka is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and Japan’s third largest city. With a metropolitan population of close to 19 million people, this thriving metropolis is one of the main commercial centres in Japan. Located on Osaka Bay, the city is a large shipping and transportation hub as well as business centre with several large corporations based here. Osaka’s futures exchange was one of the first in the world to trade in agricultural goods making the city an important place of exchange for such products, many of which are grown on the fertile lands outside of the city.
Osaka has a modern and convenient public transportation system making it easy to get around the city or when making connections to points around the country. Shinkansen “bullet trains” connect the city with the rest of Japan in high speed comfort. Travelling around the city and surrounding areas is just as simple with frequent service on commuter rail lines to outlying areas, as well as an extensive subway system linking all areas of the city. This service is enhanced by a bus system which covers most of the city as well.
Osaka is broken into 24 wards. In central Osaka, the main north/south thoroughfare is Midosuji Boulevard. Two of the main centres for shopping and entertainment are at each end of this road. Umeda district is on the north end and located in Kita Ward while the Namba district in Naniwa Ward is at the southern end. Many foreign consulates can be found in Kita and Chuo wards along with lovely parks, company offices as well as residential neighborhoods, while Minato ward is home to the Port of Osaka and the aquarium.
Umeda is the city’s main railway terminal at Kita or the north end and where the main shopping and hotel district lies. Arguably the best shopping in the city can be found here, from the city’s largest department stores and gigantic malls to boutiques and intimate specialty shops. Many of the cities high rise buildings are in Umeda along with famous hotel brands.
As Umeda is on the north end, Namba is on the south. The city’s major south/central railway station is at Namba, making this a bustling area. Namba is probably the main entertainment district featuring bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Excellent shopping is also available here and the area features a large underground mall.
Dotonbori is a major tourist destination famous for its flashy atmosphere and neon signs. Situated along an inner city canal, Dotonbori is home to many restaurants where tourists and locals alike usually go to sample Osaka’s culinary delights.
The ward of Chuo-ku is home to one of Japan’s most famous castles, the Osaka Castle. This beautiful landmark played an instrumental role in the history of Japan and is also a great place for photos. Photographers can capture traditional Japanese culture and architecture at this impressive site. Chuo-ku is also home to many foreign consulates and is the main financial district.
Things to do
Osaka has a thriving entertainment and leisure scene and is home to many fine parks that are beautifully decorated with Japanese fixtures and elaborate gardens. A myriad of shrines and temples offer excellent insight into traditional Japanese architecture while the many renowned museums highlight the cultural richness of this great city. Visitors are able to view the finest in art or learn about the area’s natural history, maritime history and much more. The city also possesses a fine aquarium which boasts one of the largest aquarium tanks in the world.
Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan is located in the Konohana-ku and is the fourth and one of the most successful Universal Studios of them all. Ranked as one of the most popular theme parks overall globally, this fun-filled park has all the famous attractions – from themed rides for Back to the Future and Jurassic Park to specialty rides in 3D and 4D dedicated to The Adventures of Spider Man and Terminator 2 – and that’s just for starters!
Osaka Castle is something to behold. Built in 1583, the original structure was burned in the aftermath of a battle in 1868 and later rebuilt in the 1930’s. An impressive sight perched high on a stone foundation covering an area of 106 hectares, the castle overlooks the city as if to protect it. Surrounded by imposing stone walls and a moat it is today an historic curiosity and national treasure. Located in Chuo-ku, the castle is open daily from 9am.
National Museum of Art
The National Museum of Art near Central Osaka houses fine works of art from around the world. Housing a permanent collection as well as hosting internationally renowned touring exhibits, the museum holds over 6,000 pieces. While the collection is far ranging and eclectic, over a third of the works are beautiful prints from artists such as Cezanne, Picasso and many of Japan’s greatest artists.
Like any major city, Osaka has many choices when it comes to accommodation. There are many budget and backpacker oriented properties that line Midosuki Boulevard mostly in the Umeda area. As this area is also a major cultural, arts and entertainment district, luxury hotels from boutique to brand names can be found here also.
Transportation at Osaka/Kansai Airport
Arriving into Kansai:
he HK Express flight (UO688) arrives into Kansai at 00:55. Public trains and buses will not be in operation during this time. There are also multiple hotel options near Kansai airport. For more details, please see our hotel partner's suggestions.Alternatively, you can choose the hotels in Rinku Town (10 mins taxi journey from Kansai) or Izumisano (15 mins taxi journey from Kansai).
Departing from Kansai::
The HK Express flight (UO689) departs at 01:50. Check-in opens at 22:50, and public trains and buses operate to the airport at this time. Please see the following link for details on getting to the airport.