10 Neighborhoods to Visit in Osaka
Add them to your Japan itinerary!
Osaka is Japan’s second largest metropolitan area, next to Tokyo. It exemplifies the richness of Japanese culture, with plenty to offer in terms of food, spots for sightseeing, shopping, and even entertainment. Like Tokyo, Osaka has an efficient train system, so getting around should not be a problem. We’ve rounded up a list of neighborhoods that you should visits on your trip to this colorful and bustling city.
Osaka is known as the “Nation’s Kitchen” and you guessed it right—it’s because of the food. It may not be the largest city in Japan, but it does have the most number of Michelin-starred restaurants. Dotonburi, for one, boasts a wide variety of establishments where you can have all the okonomiyaki, takoyaki, ramen, sushi, sashimi, and shabu-shabu you want. And don’t forget to make room for sake and cheesecake.
Once you’ve had your fill, take time to walk around Dotonburi, which is one of Osaka’s most popular tourist destinations. Wait for the colors and the lights to pop out from the billboards along Dotonburi Canal come night time—they are a sight to behold.
Osaka’s main shopping district offers an assortment of designer boutiques, shops where you can buy a keepsake for as low as ¥100, and cafes. It has a shopping arcade that stretches across a bridge, lined with possibly all the kinds of stores you could think of. Shinsaibashi also offers tax-free shopping to tourists.
The name of the area is short for “Amerikamura,” which in turn means “American Village.” Amemura is home to Osaka’s counterculture. If you want to see a different, youth-oriented, and westernized face of Osaka, this is the place to go. You’ll get a kick out of the eclectic mix of fashion: from goth and punk to hip-hop and rasta-style, existing in harmony alongside Japanese streetwear and designer brands. The vintage shops and buy-and-sell stores for used clothing offer a unique shopping experience and if you’re lucky, you’ll come across one that also showcases homegrown independent musicians and their work.
A transportation hub where most of Osaka’s train lines intersect, this is where you’ll see most Osaka’s workforce commuting daily. But more than people-watching, you can also go on a food trip, view the rest of Osaka in an open-air observation deck atop one of the buildings, and or go shopping in Umeda’s underground network of interconnected malls.
Just a short stroll from Umeda is Nakazakicho, a quiet neighborhood that retaons the feel of traditional Japan. Walk through its maze of winding streets, and find your way to one of one of its cozy coffee shops and art galleries.
Want to see more of Japan in the old days? Visit Tenma, where you’ll find ancient shrines and a museum that will show you how Osaka looked like centuries ago. The longest known shopping street in Japan is also in this area. It transforms at night, when the lanterns are lit and the bars opens doors to customers.
You might have this neighborhood in your itinerary already, as Morinomiya is where you’ll find Osaka Castle, arguably one of Japan’s most famous historic landmarks. The area is especially lovely in Spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Take a few centuries walk down history as you stroll around the park surrounding the castle.
If you want to sit back, relax, and watch the world pass you by as you sip your drink, you can do so in one of the cafes in Fukushima,or sit in one of the many restaurants and bars. Pop into one an izakaya to witness Osaka’s after-work drinking scene. And since you’ll most likely take the train going there, don’t forget to check out the graffiti at the Fukushima station.
Nipponbashi is to Osaka as Akihabara is to Tokyo. If you’re on the prowl for anime merch and electronics, you’ll probably find the best deals in Nipponbashi, a shopping mecca and haven for geek culture. Check when the cosplay festival happens so you can mark your calendar.
This is where you’ll find local independent boutiques that showcase the latest in homegrown Japanese fashion. It goes without saying that shopping should be part of your agenda when you’re in Horie. Keep your eyes peeled for clothes, accessories, and souvenirs that may be hard to find elsewhere. Find time to experience local art in one of the galleries.
Shinsekai is known for its B-kyu—or B-class—dining culture that has been serving kushikatsu, fugu, and favorites like okonomiyaki and takoyaki, for over a century. For an authentic experience, there’s no better way to sample the food than by buying them from street vendors; not fancy, but definitely budget-friendly.
Tsutenkaku, touted as Osaka’s Eiffel Tower, is also found in Shinsekai.
These are just a few of the neighborhoods in Osaka that you can visit on your next Japan trip. Aside form the restaurants, cafes, galleries, and historic landmarks, there are also amusement parks where you can bond with the family, and a buzzing nightlife that you can enjoy with peers.
Before you plot your itinerary, book your flight tickets and secure your accommodations. Make sure you choose a hotel that is easily accessible and convenient.
Photo courtesy of iStock.