” Music saves the soul.” Play softly while you read.
After my 3-day roaming in Kyoto (including Nara), I headed to Osaka to satisfy my curiosity on how the city looks like. My planned trip in Honshu island’s commercial center is only for a night and with the limited time, I had to skip a lot of attractions Osaka can offer. I wanted to immerse myself in Osaka’s culture and see amazing architectures instead of going to theme parks, so going to Disneyland was not part of my plan. Here are a few in my list of things to do in Osaka you may want to consider if you happen to drop by this popular city just for a short time.
1. See the famous and historical Osaka Castle.
Open from 9AM to 5PM, Osaka Castle is one of the most famous landmarks in Japan. Unfortunately, I reached the castle a little past 5Pm so I wasn’t able to see what’s the inside. I have read in some reviews though that, with an admission fee of 600 yen, there is not much stuff to see inside the castle and the fortress’ beautiful exteriors and lovely gardens are enough for the visit. The long cold walk from the Temmabashi train station towards the palace also gave me a relaxing experience with the sight of people at the park, series of trees with golden yellow leaves of fall at the side street (not sure if they are Gingko), and several food stalls.
2. Bring your nocturnal self to Dotonbori for delectable eats.
Osaka is also known as the food haven in Japan and the spot known to give you the most awesome dining (and shopping) experience is Dotonbori. Like Tokyo’s Shibuya district and New York’s Time Square, Dotonbori offers overwhelming and mesmerizing streets illuminated by huge advertisements and signboards plus the buildings’ glistening neon lights. I could really say that Dotonbori is a major tourist spot and a favourite hangout both for locals and expats; lots of people (on a regular weeknight) are queueing to try scrumptious delicacies and street food. The shopping and dining streets are so alive at night and by just walking along the boisterous alleys here and there, I totally lost track of time. Of course I tried crab sticks and takoyaki delights, visited a few shops, and photographed the Dotonbori canal.
3. Ride up to the Floating Garden Observatory (Umeda Sky Building roof top) and see the city in bird’s eye view.
Open from 10:00 Am to 10:30PM, you can have a bird’s eye view of Osaka for 800 yen at 170 meters above the ground. At the building grounds during my visit was a set up of a German festival for Christmas but I guess I was too early for it and most of the booths were still closed. “Who in Japan drinks beer at 10AM?” I asked myself. Maybe there’s one other than me. . Hehe. . At the top of the two towers is the 360-degree observatory called the Sky Garden and it left me a thought that the view could have been lovelier if I went at night when all the city lights glow. The strong autumn wind that caressed my face gave me chills even at midday; afraid of getting sunburn on my face and shivers down to my bones at the same time, I just did a round of walk at the circle, headed back inside and viewed more of the city through the walls of glass.
4. Never leave the city without trying Osaka’s famous Okonomiyaki.
Yeah, this dish can be available anywhere in Japan, but my local friends from Tokyo told me you should try it in Osaka. Okonomiyaki is a pancake with meat and vegetable ingredients. From wikipedia, the name of this dish originated from the combination of two words okonomi meaning “what you want” and yaki meaning “grilled”. I had my first savoury okonomiyaki made with potatoes, pork, cabbage, and spring onions for lunch at the very spacious Osaka train station while waiting for my departure time going to Tokyo via the famous bullet trains.