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Osaka is a designated city in the Kansai region of Japan. It is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and the largest component of the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Japan and among the largest in the world with over 19 million inhabitants. Situated at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, Osaka is the second largest city in Japan by daytime population after Tokyo's 23 wards and the third largest city by nighttime population after Tokyo's 23 wards and Yokohama, serving as a major economic hub for the country.
Historically a merchant city, Osaka has also been known as the "nation's kitchen" (天下の台所 tenka no daidokoro?) and served as a center for the rice trade during the Edo period.
|POPULATION :||• Designated city 2,668,586 |
• Metro 19,341,976
|TIME ZONE :||Japan Standard Time (UTC+9)|
|RELIGION :||observe both Shinto and Buddhist 84%, other 16% (including Christian 0.7%)|
|AREA :||223.00 km2 (86.10 sq mi)|
|COORDINATES :||34°41′38″N 135°30′8″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 49%|
• Female: 51%
|ETHNIC :||Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6%|
|AREA CODE :||66|
|POSTAL CODE :|
|DIALING CODE :||+81 66|
|WEBSITE :||Official Website|
- Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan – Anaquarium located in Osaka Bay, containing 35,000 aquatic animals in 14 tanks, the largest of which holds 5,400 tons of water and houses a variety of sea animals including whale sharks. This tank is the world's second-largest aquarium tank, behind the Georgia Aquarium, whose largest tank holds approximately 29,000 tons of water.
- Tempozan Ferris Wheel - A 112m tall Ferris wheel located next to the aquarium in the bay area.
- Tennōji Zoo
- Universal Studios Japan
- HEP Five - A shopping/amusement plaza in Umeda featuring a Sega Joypolis and rooftop Ferris wheel offering views of the city.
- Umeda Sky Building – Twin 173 m skyscrapers bridged by a rooftop "Floating Garden" observatory presenting a 360-degree panoramic view of Osaka. Popular for photographs, the structure also houses an underground mall with restaurants styled after the early Showa period of the 1920s.
- Nakanoshima Park: About 10.6 ha. In the vicinity of the City Hall
- Osaka Castle Park: About 106 ha. Includes Osaka-jō Hall, a Japanese plum blossom (Ume) garden, a Cherry Blossom garden, and more. It is a hotspot for migrating birds in the spring and autumn.
- Sumiyoshi Park
- Tennōji Park: About 28 ha. Includes Tennōji Zoo; an art museum (established by contribution from Sumitomo family in 1936); and a Japanese garden, Keitaku-en (慶沢園?). Keitaku-en was constructed in 1908 by Jihei Ogawa (小川治兵衛?, Hiragana: おがわ じへえ), an illustrious gardener in Japan. This was originally one of Sumitomo family's gardens until 1921.
- Utsubo Park
- Nagai Park: The 2007 IAAF World Championships in Athletics were held at the Nagai Stadium, located in this park.
- Tsurumi-Ryokuchi Park with the Sakuya Konohana Kan was the site of the flower expo in 1990.
Temples, shrines, and other historical sites
- Osaka Castle
- Sankō Shrine
- Shitennō-ji – The oldest buddhist temple in Japan, established in 593 AD byPrince Shōtoku
- Sumiyoshi taisha One of the oldest Shinto shrines, built in 211 AD.
- Tamatsukuri Inari Shrine
- Ōsaka Tenmangū Shrine
- Osaka Peace Pagoda, built by Nipponzan Myohoji in 1963.
- Imamiya Ebisu
- Dōtonbori - Osaka's primary tourist and nightlife area
- Namba and Shinsaibashidistricts - Located side by side in Minami, offering shopping, restaurants, bars and nightclubs running 24/7
- Higashi-Dori area - A network ofshōtengai in Umeda with numerous restaurants, bars, and nightlife options
- Shin-michi/Kitashinchi district - Well known for its upscale dining and hostess clubs, also offers more reasonably priced izakaya as well as bars and nightclubs that cater to tourists and foreigners
- Shinsekai - Earthy eating/drinking district, built around the Tsūtenkaku Tower and famous for cheap kushikatsu
- Den Den Town - An electronics/anime district analogous to Tokyo's Akihabara, Den Den Town also features maid cafes, bars, and other venues of entertainment
- Sankaku Koen (Triangle Park) - A popular youth meeting spot in Amerika-mura. Eccentric fashions and local skateboarders abound
- Jūsō - Popular working class bar/nightlife district
- Kyobashi - A commercial area and shotengai with a diverse variety of izakaya
- Zepp Osaka - A live stage venue in the Osaka Bay area that hosts many big-name musical acts and events
- Doyama - Considered a hub for Osaka's LGBT community
- Tobita - A red-light district
Prehistory to the Kofun period
Some of the earliest signs of human habitation in the Osaka area at the Morinomiya ruins comprise shell mounds, sea oysters and buried human skeletons from the 5th–6th centuries BC. It is believed that what is today the Uehonmachi area consisted of a peninsular land with an inland sea in the east. During the Yayoi period, permanent habitation on the plains grew as rice farming became popular.
By the Kofun period, Osaka developed into a hub port connecting the region to the western part of Japan. The large numbers of increasingly larger tomb mounds found in the plains of Osaka are seen as evidence of political-power concentration, leading to the formation of a state.
Asuka and Nara period
The Kojiki records that during 390–430 AD there was an imperial palace located at Osumi, in what is present day Higashiyodogawa ward, but it may have been a secondary imperial residence rather than a capital.
In 645, Emperor Kōtoku built his Naniwa Nagara-Toyosaki Palace in what is now Osaka, making it the capital of Japan. The city now known as Osaka was at this time referred to as Naniwa, and this name and derivations of it are still in use for districts in central Osaka such as Naniwa (浪速) and Namba (難波).Although the capital was moved to Asuka (in Nara Prefecture today) in 655, Naniwa remained a vital connection, by land and sea, between Yamato (modern day Nara Prefecture), Korea, and China.
Naniwa was declared the capital again in 744 by order of Emperor Shōmu, and remained so until 745, when the Imperial Court moved back to Heijō-kyō (now Nara). By the end of the Nara period, Naniwa's seaport roles had been gradually taken over by neighboring areas, but it remained a lively center of river, channel, and land transportation between Heian-kyō (Kyoto today) and other destinations.
Heian to Edo period
In 1496, Jōdo Shinshū Buddhists established their headquarters in the heavily fortified Ishiyama Hongan-ji, located directly on the site of the old Naniwa Imperial Palace. Oda Nobunaga began a decade-long siege campaign on the temple in 1570 which ultimately resulted in the surrender of the monks and subsequent razing of the temple. Toyotomi Hideyoshi constructed Osaka Castle in its place.
Osaka was long considered Japan's primary economic center, with a large percentage of the population belonging to the merchant class . Over the course of the Edo period (1603–1867), Osaka grew into one of Japan's major cities and returned to its ancient role as a lively and important port. Its popular culture was closely related to ukiyo-e depictions of life in Edo. By 1780 Osaka had cultivated a vibrant arts culture, as typified by its famous Kabuki and Bunraku theaters. In 1837 Ōshio Heihachirō, a low-ranking samurai, led a peasant insurrection in response to the city's unwillingness to support the many poor and suffering families in the area. Approximately one-quarter of the city was razed before shogunal officials put down the rebellion, after which Ōshio killed himself. Osaka was opened to foreign trade by the government of the Bakufu at the same time as Hyōgo (modern Kobe) on 1 January 1868, just before the advent of the Boshin War and the Meiji Restoration.
Osaka residents were stereotyped in Edo literature from at least the 18th century. Jippenisha Ikku in 1802 depicted Osakans as stingy almost beyond belief. In 1809 the derogatory term "Kamigata zeeroku" was used by Edo residents to characterize inhabitants of the Osaka region in terms of calculation, shrewdness, lack of civic spirit, and the vulgarity of Osaka dialect. Edo writers aspired to samurai culture, and saw themselves as poor but generous, chaste, and public spirited. Edo writers by contrast saw "zeeroku" as obsequious apprentices, stingy, greedy, gluttonous, and lewd. To some degree, Osaka residents are still stigmatized by Tokyo observers in the same way today, especially in terms of gluttony, evidenced in the phrase, "Residents of Osaka devour their food until they collapse" .
19th century to present
The modern municipality was established in 1889 by government ordinance, with an initial area of 15 square kilometres (6 sq mi), overlapping today's Chūō and Nishi wards. Later, the city went through three major expansions to reach its current size of 223 square kilometres (86 sq mi). Osaka was the industrial center most clearly defined in the development of capitalism in Japan.
The rapid industrialization attracted many Korean immigrants, who set up a life apart for themselves. The political system was pluralistic, with a strong emphasis on promoting industrialization and modernization.Literacy was high and the educational system expanded rapidly, producing a middle class with a taste for literature and a willingness to support the arts. In 1927, General Motors operated a factory called Osaka Assembly until 1941, manufacturing Chevrolet, Pontiac, Oldsmobile, and Buick vehicles, operated and staffed by Japanese workers and managers. In the nearby city of Ikeda in Osaka Prefecture is the headquarters office of Daihatsu, Japan's oldest automobile manufacturer.
Like its European and American counterparts, Osaka displayed slums, unemployment, and poverty. In Japan it was here that municipal government first introduced a comprehensive system of poverty relief, copied in part from British models. Osaka policymakers stressed the importance of family formation and mutual assistance as the best way to combat poverty. This minimized the cost of welfare programs.
During World War II, Osaka came under air attacks in 1945 by the United States Army Air Forces as part of the air raids on Japan. On March 13, 1945, a total of 329 Boeing B-29 Superfortress heavy bombers took part in the raid against Osaka. According to an American prisoner of war who was held in the city, the air raid took almost the entire night and destroyed 25 square miles (65 km2) of the city. The U.S. bombed the city again twice in June 1945 and again on August 14, a day before Japan's surrender.
Osaka is located in the humid subtropical climate zone , with four distinct seasons. Its winters are generally mild, with January being the coldest month having an average high of 9.3 °C (49 °F). The city rarely sees snowfall during the winter. Spring in Osaka starts off mild, but ends up being hot and humid. It also tends to be Osaka's wettest season, with the tsuyu —the rainy season—occurring between late May to early July. Summers are very hot and humid. In the months of July and August, the average daily high temperature approaches 35 °C (95 °F), while average nighttime temperatures typically hover around 25 °C (77 °F). Fall in Osaka sees a cooling trend, with the early part of the season resembling summer while the latter part of fall resembles winter.
Climate data for Osaka
|Average high °C (°F)||9.5|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||6.0|
|Average low °C (°F)||2.8|
|Source #1: Japan Meteorological Agency|
|Source #2: World Meteorological Organization|
The city's west side is open to Osaka Bay, and is otherwise completely surrounded by more than ten satellite cities, all of them in Osaka Prefecture, with one exception: the city of Amagasaki, belonging to Hyōgo Prefecture, in the northwest. The city occupies a larger area (about 13%) than any other city or village within Osaka Prefecture. When the city was established in 1889, it occupied roughly the area known today as the Chuo and Nishi wards, only 15.27 square kilometres (3,773 acres) that would eventually grow into today's 222.30 square kilometres (54,932 acres) via incremental expansions, the largest of which being a single 126.01 square kilometres (31,138 acres) expansion in 1925. Osaka's highest point is 37.5 metres (123.0 ft) Tokyo Peil in Tsurumi-ku, and the lowest point is in Nishiyodogawa-ku at −2.2 metres (−7.2 ft) Tokyo Peil.
The gross city product of Osaka in fiscal year 2004 was ¥21.3 trillion, an increase of 1.2% over the previous year. The figure accounts for about 55% of the total output in the Osaka Prefecture and 26.5% in the Kinki region. In 2004, commerce, services, and manufacturing have been the three major industries, accounting for 30%, 26%, and 11% of the total, respectively. The per capita income in the city was about ¥3.3 million, 10% higher than that of the Osaka Prefecture. MasterCard Worldwide reported that Osaka ranks 19th among the world's leading cities and plays an important role in the global economy.
The GDP in the greater Osaka area (Osaka and Kobe) is $341 billion. Osaka, along with Paris and London, has one of the most productive hinterlands in the world.
Historically, Osaka was the center of commerce in Japan, especially in the middle and pre-modern ages. Nomura Securities, the first brokerage firm in Japan, was founded in the city in 1925, and Osaka still houses a leading futures exchange. Many major companies have since moved their main offices to Tokyo. However, several major companies, such as Panasonic, Sharp, and Sanyo, are still headquartered in Osaka. Recently, the city began a program, headed by mayor Junichi Seki, to attract domestic and foreign investment.
The Osaka Securities Exchange, specializing in derivatives such as Nikkei 225 futures, is based in Osaka. The merger with JASDAQ will help the Osaka Securities Exchange become the largest exchange in Japan for start-up companies.
According to global consulting firm Mercer, Osaka was the second most expensive city for expatriate employees in the world in 2009. It jumped up nine places from 11th place in 2008 and was the eighth most expensive city in 2007. However, it was not ranked in the top ten places of the list in 2013. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Osaka as the second most expensive city in the world in its 2013 Cost of Living study.
"Osaka" can mean either the larger Osaka prefecture (大阪府 Ōsaka-fu), covered in a separate guide, or central Osaka city (大阪市 Ōsaka-shi), the topic of this guide. The city is administratively divided into 24 wards (区 ku), but in common usage the following divisions are more useful:
Osaka Castle (大阪城) is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Japan. Kyōbashi (京橋) is northeast of Osaka Castle, home toOsaka Business Park (OBP).
- Opti Café is a surprisingly cheap internet café in Umeda. ¥100/30min. Yodobashi Camera department store's groundfloor, next to Excelsior Café. You are requested to register for membership but it doesn't cost anything.
- Y-net Cafe, Labi 1 Namba GF, Nambanaka 2-11-35, Naniwa-ku. First hour of use is free and no registration needed.
Prices in Osaka
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$3.15|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||$14.50|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||$34.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||$50.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||$90.00|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||$6.30|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||$4.90|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||$3.45|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||$8.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||$|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||$0.10|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||$4.50|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||$1.75|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||$78.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||$41.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||$86.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||$2.45|
Transportation - Get In
The main international gateway to Osaka is Kansai International Airport. The airport has two railway connections to the city: JR West's Kansai Airport Line and the private Nankai Electric Railway.
Several ticket offers from Kansai Airport are available, which may appeal to foreign visitors:
- Japan Railway (JR) offers the ICOCA & HARUKA ticket package for foreign tourists only. For ¥3030 one-way or ¥4060 round-trip you get an unreserved trip on the Haruka limited express, and can continue on to any JR station in Osaka within a designated area. You also receive a ¥2000 ICOCA fare card to use on transit in the Kansai region (¥1500 + ¥500 deposit).
- Nankai Railways offers a Kanku Chikatoku Ticket for ¥1000 each way. With this you can travel on the Nankai Railway's commuter service to Namba, and then travel to any station in the entire Osaka Subway system.
Most domestic flights arrive at Osaka International Airport, also known as Itami Airport . Itami is connected to the Osaka Monorail , but the monorail is expensive and traces an arc around the northern suburbs, so to get to the centre of the city you will need to transfer to a suburban Hankyu railway line. A more convenient option for most are the Airport Limousine Buses , which run frequently from Itami to various locations within Osaka and elsewhere in the region (including Kansai Airport), with fares starting around ¥500-600. Taxi from Itami airport to Osaka castle area costs ¥4000 plus ¥700 for toll road.
Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen (新幹線） trains arrive at Shin-Osaka station, to the north of the city center. From Shin-Osaka, you can connect to the city center by using the Midosuji subway line, or connect to the local JR network for other destinations.
- From Tokyo, Nozomi (のぞみ) trains cover the one way ride in about 2 1/4 hours (¥14,050); Hikari (ひかり) trains take 3 hours and all-stoppingKodama (こだま) trains take 4 hours (both ¥13750). With the Japan Rail Pass, there is no charge to take the Shinkansen if you use theHikari or Kodama service.
- From points west of Osaka, Nozomi trains run from Okayama (¥6060, 45 mins), Hiroshima (¥10,150, 80 mins) and Hakata station in Fukuoka(¥14,890, 2 1/4 hours). Japan Rail Pass holders can use the Hikari Rail Star (ひかりレールスター) or Sakura (さくら) service instead, which runs at a comparable speed to the Nozomi and makes a few more stops, but its trains are shorter (8 car trains, compared to 16 cars on the Nozomi). Slower Kodama trains connect the rest of the stations on the route.
- Sakura trains start in Kyushu, with service to Osaka available from Kumamoto (¥18,000, 3 1/4 hours) and Kagoshima (¥21,300, 4 hours).Mizuho (みずほ) trains are slightly faster and slightly more expensive. If you have a Japan Rail Pass the Mizuho cannot be used.
If travelling from the east without a rail pass, you can take advantage of the Puratto (Platt) Kodama Ticket, which offers a discount for Kodama services if you purchase at least one day in advance. You get a reserved seat and a coupon for a free drink (including beer) which can be redeemed at a "Kiosk" convenience counter inside the station. With this ticket a trip from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka costs ¥10,300 - a savings of almost ¥4000. Note that there is only one Kodama service per hour from Tokyo, and a few early-morning Kodama trains cannot be used with this ticket. Travel from Nagoya with this ticket costs ¥4300.
During travel periods when the Seishun 18 Ticket is valid, you can go from Tokyo to Osaka during the day in about nine hours using all-local trains. Travelling in a group, however, discounts the cost significantly from the standard ¥8500 fare: A party of three costs ¥3800 per person, and a group of five traveling together brings the cost down to ¥2300 per person. See the Seishun 18 Ticket article for more information.
Those travelling from the Hokuriku region can use Thunderbird (サンダーバード) limited express trains from Kanazawa (2 3/4 hours, ¥7650). Kanazawa is the present terminal of the Hokuriku Shinkansen, connecting to Toyama, Nagano and Tokyo.
There are many regional railway lines connecting Osaka to nearby cities:
- From Kyoto, JR offers fast, but slightly more expensive, shin-kaisoku(special rapid) trains to Osaka Station. The cheaper but slower alternative is the Hankyu Railway's limited express service. Both lines terminate in the Umeda area of Osaka. Keihan Railway offers Kyoto-Osaka trains. The Yodoyabashi terminal in Osaka does not connect directly with JR, but it is possible to transfer to the JR Osaka Loop Line at Kyobashi. In Kyoto, Keihan and Hankyu trains do not connect with JR Kyoto Station but both travel to stations which are more convenient for reaching the centre of the city. 30–45 minutes.
- From Kobe, JR again offers slightly faster and slightly more expensive service than Hankyu. The third choice is Hanshin Railway, which is identical to Hankyu in terms of cost and similar in time, useful for getting to Koshien Stadium to see Hanshin Tigers games. All three lines go to Osaka / Umeda. about 20 minutes.
- From Nara, JR offers trains to Tennōji and Osaka Stations, and Kintetsu offers trains to Namba. Kintetsu station in Nara is closer to Tōdaiji and Nara Park. 35–45 minutes.
- From Nagoya, an alternative to the Shinkansen is Kintetsu's premium limited express service, the Urban Liner (アーバンライナー) which goes directly to Namba. Trip times are as little as two hours each way, with departures at 0 and 30 minutes past the hour at a cost of ¥4150. In comparison, the shinkansen takes just under an hour for ¥5670.
Stations with the same name but belonging to different railway companies are sometimes very far apart. For example, the Nakatsu stations on the Hankyu and subway networks are about an hour's walk from each other, even though they look close on the railway map. Allow up to half an hour for walking between the various Umeda stations and about the same for the various Namba stations, especially if you are a first time visitor.
In Kobe the Sannomiya stations belonging to JR and Hankyu are connected but Hanshin Sannomiya is across a street.
Hokuriku Arch Pass
The Hokuriku Arch Pass is a new rail pass that will be available to foreign tourists starting in April 2016. The Arch Pass allows unlimited travel between Tokyo and the Kansai area via the Hokuriku region, using the Hokuriku Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kanazawa and the Thunderbird from Kanazawa to Kyoto and Osaka. At a cost of ¥24000 for seven consecutive days of travel (¥25000 if purchased inside Japan), the Arch Pass is ¥5000 cheaper than the national Japan Rail Pass. On the other hand, a trip from Tokyo to Osaka is twice as long via Kanazawa compared to the more popular Tokaido Shinkansen.
Overnight trains use to be one of the prides of the national railway network, but aging rail equipment combined with competition between buses and the shinkansen has resulted in the elimination of almost all services to/from Osaka.
Only one daily train remains: The Sunrise Izumo/Sunrise Seto, which passes through Osaka en route to the Chugoku and Shikoku regions. Unfortunately, it may only be useful as a means to travel to and from Tokyo. The daily eastbound service picks up passengers in Osaka at 12:34 AM, arriving in Yokohama at 6:44 AM and Tokyo at 7:08 AM. The daily westbound service from Tokyo (10:00 PM) and Yokohama (10:23 PM), on the other hand, don't stop in Osaka at all - the first morning stop is in Himeji at 5:25 AM. From Himeji, you will have to backtrack to Osaka on a commuter service or the shinkansen on a separate ticket.
If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you can book a carpeted floor space on the above service at no charge. Otherwise you can travel in a compartment or room by paying the applicable room fee and surcharges. From Himeji you'll be able to backtrack to Osaka in a commuter train, or in a non-reserved seat on the first Kodama shinkansen service of the day, simply by showing your pass.
During the peak travel seasons, JR runs an overnight service called theMoonlight Nagara between Tokyo and Ōgaki in Gifu Prefecture, from which you must continue on to Osaka by regular trains. The Nagara can be used by holders of the Seishun 18 Ticket, and as a result, is in very high demand when it runs; seat reservations are compulsory.
During University holidays there are some additional overnight services to Matsuyama, Kochi and Fukuoka. As these are considered rapid services they can be very economical if you use a Seishun 18 Ticket.
As Osaka is a major city, there are many day and overnight buses which run between Osaka and other locations throughout Japan, which can be a cheaper alternative than shinkansen fares.
The run between Tokyo and the Kansai region is the busiest in Japan. Buses use the Tomei or Chuo Expressway from Tokyo to Nagoya, then the Meishin Expressway to Osaka. Trips take between 8 and 9 hours depending on the route and stops.
Fierce competition between operators in recent years has led to buses offering better amenities and lower prices. Part of this strategy is the adoption of dynamic pricing on many bus routes. This means that the price of a ticket will vary based on several factors, including:
- When the ticket is purchased: Discounts are sometimes offered for tickets bought several days in advance.
- The date of travel: A regular weekday trip will be among the lowest priced. Weekend travel is typically priced slightly higher, and trips during peak periods (i.e. Golden Week, New Year's) will be the most expensive.
- The time of day: Day trips by bus are less expensive than overnight trips.
- The type of seating on the bus: High density buses designed to carry more passengers are cheaper. Buses with fewer seats per row - and fewer seats on the bus itself - are priced higher.
As a rule of thumb, fares for a weekday trip between Tokyo and Osaka go for around ¥4000-6000 per person during the daytime, and around ¥5000-8000 per person for overnight trips. Children usually pay half the adult fare.
Two of the major bus operators between Tokyo and Osaka are Willer Express and JR Bus. Tickets for all carriers can generally be purchased at major departure points, and can also be purchased (with some Japanese language help) at kiosks inside convenience stores.
Willer Express runs daytime and overnight trips with a variety of seating options ranging from standard seats to luxurious shell seats. Bus journeys can be booked online in English, and Willer's Japan Bus Pass is valid on all of their routes with some exceptions. Willer's buses in Tokyo leave from the Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal (Busta Shinjuku), above the JR tracks at Shinjuku Station, which is served by many of Japan's highway bus operators. In Osaka, Willer's bus terminal is at the Umeda Sky Building. Note that Willer also sells tickets for other bus operators on their website, but these trips are not valid with Willer's Japan Bus Pass.
JR Bus (Japanese Website) reservations cannot be made online in English, but you can make reservations in train stations at the same "Midori-no-Madoguchi" ticket windows used to reserve seats on trains. Buses depart from Tokyo Station - Yaesu Exit (八重洲口) and from Busta Shinjuku. In Osaka, buses congregate at the JR Highway Bus Terminal in Osaka Station.
From Yamaguchi Prefecture
Bocho bus offers a nighttime bus from the cities of Hagi, Yamaguchi, Hofu,Tokuyama, and Iwakuni to Kobe and Osaka. It currently costs between ¥6300 and ¥9480 for a one way ticket, depending on where you get on and where you get off. The bus departs Hagi Bus Center at 7:55PM nightly, and arrives at Osaka station at 7:15AM daily. The bus makes a return trip from Osaka station at 10:05PM nightly, and arrives at Hagi bus center at 9:25AM daily. Full details including round trip fares are on the (Japanese Website). It is a good deal if you have time to spare.
There are a variety of nightbus options from Yamagata, Sendai, Koriyama,Fukushima, Maebashi, Mito, Iwaki, Ashikaga, Saitama (Omiya), Tokyo,Kawasaki, Yokohama, Kofu, Karuizawa, Yamanouchi (Yamanaka), Niigata,Shizuoka, Mishima, Kurashiki, Hiroshima, Kurayoshi, Yonago, Izumo,Tsuwano, Imabari, Matsuyama, Kochi, Sukumo, Susaki, Fukuoka, Kurume,Oita, Kumamoto, Miyazaki (Miyako City), and Kagoshima.
Same-day arrivals depart from Tokyo, Kawasaki, Kofu, Nagano,Matsumoto, Minowa, Toyama, Kanazawa, Fukui, Obama, Hamamatsu,Nagoya, Takayama, Yokkaichi, Maizuru, Fukuchiyama, Kyoto, Shirahama(Adventure World), Shinonsen, Kinosaki Onsen, Arima Onsen, Okayama,Kurashiki, Tsuyama, Maniwa, Niimi, Shobara, Miyoshi, Hiroshima, Tottori,Kurayoshi, Yonago, Izumo, Tokushima, Naruto, Takamatsu, Marugame,Imabari, Matsuyama, Kochi, Muroto, and Susaki.
Be aware that not all departures arrive in Umeda, as many people expect. Some of them arrive at Tennoji Station, Bentencho Station, Shin-Osaka, etc., so know beforehand so that you can plan accordingly.
Osaka International Ferry Terminal is located at Nankō (南港) in the Osaka Bay Area. There are no banks, post office, shops, or restaurants in the terminal. The nearest subway station is Cosmosquare Station (C11), which is about a 15 minute walk from the terminal. A free shuttle bus is available at the station. Taxis are also available at the station.
Getting to the Ferry Terminal
- From Suminoe-koen Station (Take the New Tram to Nankōguchi (南港口)).
- From JR Shin-Osaka Station (Shinkansen Line) (JR Shin-Osaka Station →transfer to Subway Midosuji Line (Red Line) at Shin-Osaka Station(M13) → Hommachi Station (M18) → transfer to Subway Chuo Line (Green Line) → Cosmosquare station (C10)). Travel time: at least 40 minutes to Cosmosquare Station. ¥310.
- From Namba (Subway Midosuji Line (Red Line) at Namba Station (M20) → Hommachi Station (M18) → transfer to Subway Chuo Line (Green Line) → Cosmosquare Station (C10)). Travel time: at least 30 minutes to Cosmosquare Station. ¥270.
- From Tennoji (Subway Midosuji Line (Red Line) at Tennoji Station (M23) → Hommachi Station (M18) → transfer to Subway Chuo Line (Green Line) → Cosmosquare Station (C10)). Travel time: at least 40 minutes to Cosmosquare Station. ¥310.
- By taxi (Instruct the taxi driver to take you to the Osaka Port International Ferry Terminal (Nanko) — otherwise, you may be taken to the domestic ferry terminal.).
- By car (From Hanshin Expressway Tenpozan exit to Port of Osaka and after passing through Osakako-Sakishima Tunnel, turn left at the first crossing, and follow the road.). ¥200 per car for the toll road.
The PanStar Line operates a ferry between Osaka and Busan. The ferry leaves Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, at 3:10PM from both Osaka and Busan and arrives the following day at 10AM. In Busan, the luggage check-in time is prior to the passenger check-in time: for the Busan-Osaka run, luggage check in is 12:40PM-2PM and the passenger check in time is 2:15PM–2:45PM; for the Osaka-Busan run, luggage check in is 1PM-2PM and the passenger check in time is 1PM-2:30PM. Many different room options are available, including family rooms. Fares start at ¥17,000 and range through seven different room/suite classes culminating in a Presidential Suite, which is ¥250,000 per night. Tickets can be purchased online, but much of the website content is only available in Japanese and Korean, and may be difficult to navigate for English speakers. Tickets are easily obtainable through agents specializing in Korean or Japanese travel.
The ferry holds live musical performances, magic shows, and other entertainment on the run. Schedule varies.
You can take your car on the ferry, but there are documentation requirements, and you should check the website for information. The cost for a single basic room and a car is ₩690,000. Room upgrades are available. Temporary insurance must be purchased at the port upon arrival in Osaka.
Shanghai (China) twice weekly.
Transportation - Get Around
Kansai Travel Pass: Exploring Osaka & Kansai Region:
If you are planning to travel beyond city limits you might consider using the tickets from Surutto Kansai. For use in Osaka and other cities in the west of Japan, there are some other useful tickets.
- ICOCA smart card. These rechargeable cards can be used on rail, subway and bus networks in Kansai area, Okayama, Hiroshima,Nagoya (Kintetsu) and Kyoto (JR West). These cards are available at vending machines at these rail stations. ¥2000, including a refundable ¥500 deposit and ¥1500 travel credit.
- Unlimited Kintetsu Rail Pass (Purchase at the Kansai Airport Agency Travel Desk in Kansai International Airport.). This pass is good for unlimited travel within the Kansai region for 5 consecutive days. The Kansai region covers Kyoto, Nara, Nagoya, Mie, and more. ¥3700.
- Wide Kintetsu Rail Pass (Purchase at the Kansai Airport Agency Travel Desk in Kansai International Airport.). This pass is similar the Unlimited Kintetsu Rail Pass, but it includes a few extra areas like the inclusive round trip access from Kansai Airport to Osaka's Uehommachi station and back to airport plus unlimited rides on Mie Kotsu buses in the Ise-Shima area and some discount vouchers.. ¥5700.
- Osaka Unlimited Pass. This pass comes in two versions. The one-day pass offers unlimited use of trains (excluding JR trains) and buses in Osaka City and neighboring areas, as well as free admission to 24 popular sightseeing facilities as well as discounts at some more locations. The two-day pass is restricted to subway and city bus lines. Both versions come with a handy little booklet with route suggestions, coupons and lots of information about all the sites. If you are planning to visit some of the more expensive sites included for free in the pass, such as the Floating Observatory in Umeda which alone carries a price tag of ¥700, this ticket can be economical. Transit can take a long time, so it is wise to make a plan before purchasing this pass. For a couple of hundred yen more you can get an extended version of this pass which includes the train trip to Osaka and back from all the cities around. One-day pass for ¥2000, two-day pass for ¥2700.
- Subway and bus one-day Passes. The "Osaka Visitors' Ticket" (adults ¥850, children ¥430) offers unlimited one-day travel on all subways, buses, the New Tram and includes a few discounts around town. The "Osaka Amazing Pass" offers in addition free entrance to several attractions, whereas the "Osaka Kaiyu" (adults only ¥2300) includes a ticket for the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (¥2550/¥1300).
- Multiple Ride Card. This card can be used until its fare (¥3300) expires. It is good for subways, buses, and the New Tram. ¥3000.
The Osaka Subway here is Japan's second-most extensive subway network after Tokyo, which makes the underground the natural way to get around. The Midosuji Line is Osaka's main artery, linking up the massive train stations and shopping complexes of Shin-Osaka, Umeda,Shinsaibashi, Nambaand Tennoji.
The signage, ticketing and operation of the Osaka subway is identical to its larger counterpart in Tokyo. Fares ¥200-350, depending on distance. Station arrivals are displayed and announced in both Japanese and English. Keep your ticket when you enter the train — it is required when you exit.
True to its name, the JR Osaka Loop Line (環状線 Kanjō-sen) runs in a loop around Osaka. It's not quite as convenient or heavily-used as Tokyo's Yamanote Line, but it stops in Umeda and Tennoji, and by Osaka Castle. Namba and Universal Studios Japan are connected to the Loop Line by short spurs. Fares ¥120-250, depending on distance.
It is generally a bad idea to use an automobile to visit Osaka. Many streets do not have names, signs are usually only in Japanese, and parking fees are astronomical. In addition, an international driver's license is required.
Many residents get around by bicycle, as the city is mostly flat and easily navigable by bike. Riding on the sidewalks is permitted and some sidewalks even have bike lanes marked. If nothing is marked, try to stay to the left where possible (but often you simply need to find the best path through the pedestrians).
Rental bikes are available, but if you are staying longer than a few weeks, purchasing a used bike can be a good deal. Finding a used bike can be a bit tricky, however, particularly if you don't speak Japanese. Craigslist and websites such as Gaijinpot.com have classified listings, and there are a few used bike shops around.
Technically, you are required to register your bicycle with the police. Bikes registered under a name other than the rider may be considered stolen, and bicycle theft is not uncommon. Bike shops can help with the simple registration process.
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- Osaka's most famous shopping district is Shinsaibashi (心斎橋), which offers a mix of huge department stores, high-end Western designer stores, and independent boutiques ranging from very cheap to very expensive. Within Shinsaibashi, the Amerika-mura (アメリカ村, often shortened to "Amemura") or "American Village" area is particularly popular among young people, and is often said to be the source of most youth fashion trends in Japan. Just west of Amerika-mura, Horie (堀江) is a shopping area with fashionable Japanese boutiques, centered around Tachibana-dori (which is often translated as Orange Street).
- The many shops in Umeda are also popular among trendy locals, particularly in the Hep Five and Hep Navio buildings adjacent to Hankyu Umeda Station, although these shops tend to be too expensive to captivate most tourists' interest. In this area, new shopping buildings have been constructed recently. For example, the“E-ma” buildings next to Hanshin department store, and “Nu-Chayamachi” (Nu 茶屋町), opened in October 2005 near Hankyu Umeda station.
- For electronics, the Nipponbashi (日本橋) area southeast of Namba, and particularly the "Den-Den Town" shopping street [www], was once regarded as the Akihabara of western Japan; nowadays, more people would rather shop at the new, enormous Yodobashi Camera (ヨドバシカメラ) in Umeda or BicCamera(ビックカメラ) and LABI1 in Namba, although Nippombashi still offers good deals on many gadgets, PC components and used/new industrial electronics.
- For Japanese and foreign books, try Kinokuniya in Hankyu Umeda Station, orJunkudo south of Osaka Station.
- The Official Hanshin Tigers(baseball team) Shop is located on 8th floor of Hanshin Department Store at Umeda.
- Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street (天神橋筋商店街Tenjinbashi-suji Shōtengai) is said to be the longest straight and covered shopping arcade in Japan at approx. 2.6 km length. The arcade is running north-south along Tenjinbashi-suji street, and is accessible from multiple subway and/or JR stations, e.g. Tenma, Minami-Morimachi, Tenjinbashi-suji 6-chome, etc. Nothing meant for sightseeing, the arcade is a live exhibition of Osaka's daily life, open since Edo period.
The widest selection of restaurants is in Osaka's main entertainment districts, with the highest concentration of all in the Umeda and Dotombori areas.
Even in a nation of obsessive gourmands Osaka is known as an excellent place to eat, exemplified by the Osakan maxim kuidaore, "eat yourself into ruin". The best place for trying out kuidaore is probably Dōtonbori (道頓堀) and neighboringHōzenji-yokochō (法善寺横町) or Soemon-cho(宗右衛門町), the whole area containing nearly nothing but one restaurant after another.
Some typically Osakan foods worth trying include:
- Battera (バッテラ), is a block type sushi, with mackerel put on rice and squeezed very hard in a wooden box, cut into pieces when served. Battera sushi is a variant and direct descendant of primitive sushi, this one from Osaka is unique for its squarelike shape. Available not only in sushi restaurants but also as take-away in department stores and train stations.
- Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), fried cabbage cakes that resemble a cross between a pancake, pizza, and omelette.
- Takoyaki (たこ焼き), bits of octopus inside fried dumplings.
- Kushikatsu (串かつ), skewers with various sorts of food (meat, vegetables, cheese, etc.) deep-fried in dough and served with a black sauce.
Okonomiyaki is best eaten in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, while takoyaki is best eaten from street vendors' carts, which can be found all over the major districts around nightfall. The best place to find kushkatsu(串カツ) is in Shinsekai, between Dobutsuen-mae and Ebisucho stations on the Sakaisuji subway line.
Sights & Landmarks
- Osaka Castle (大阪城 Osaka-jō) (The park can be accessed on a number of lines, but the castle is closest to Osaka-jō Koen station on the JR Osaka Loop Line.). 9AM-5PM daily, closed around New Years. Osaka's best known sight, although it's a concrete reconstruction that pales in comparison with, say, Himeji. Think of it as a museum built in the shape of a castle, rather than as an actual historical castle. Still, it's pretty enough from the outside, especially in the cherry blossom season when Osakans flock to the castle park to picnic and make merry. Naniwa Palace Site Park or Naniwanomiya can also be found south to Osaka Castle Park (although it's one of Japan's oldest habitats and palace sites, today it's little more than an empty grass field where the outlines of Naniwa's palace foundations from around 643 AD have been partly recreated in concrete). The grounds are free, and the castle costs adults ¥600, children free.
- Osaka Science Museum (大阪市立科学館) (Walk from subway Higobashi Station or Yodoya-bashi Station, 500m and 900m to the west respectively. You could also walk from Osaka station, it will take at least 20 minutes.). Tu-Su 9:30AM-5PM, closed Dec 28-Jan 4, closed on public holidays. Big interactive activity center on several floors. Great for kids. Planetarium and cinema (with science films) downstairs. Adults ¥600, children ¥300.
- Osaka Museum of History (大阪歴史博物館), 1-32 Otemae 4-Chome Chuo-ku (5 min walk from subway Tanimachi 4-chome Station; also accessible via Osaka Castle or from JR Osaka-jō Station). M-Th 9:30AM-5PM, F 9:30AM-8PM, closed Tuesday, or Wednesday of Tuesday is a holiday. An ideal place to learn all-abouts of Osaka's history. Enjoyable view over Osaka Castle and the OBP skyscrapers. ¥600.
- Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル), 1-1-20 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku (10 min. walk from JR Osaka or Hankyu Umeda.). Observatory 10AM-10:30PM daily, last adm. at 10PM. Built in an attempt to upgrade Osaka's somewhat downbeat Kita district, the project wasn't quite the hoped-for commercial success but this bizarrely shaped 40-story, 173-meter building is still a city landmark. Take the escalator through midair to the rooftop observatory for an open-air view of Osaka, which is particularly impressive on a clear night. There is a lover's seat, where if you hold your partner's hand, and each hold a metal button on the seat, the ground around you lights up into a heart. You can purchase an engraved heart lock (¥1000) and attached it to the padlock wall around the seat (padlocks only available after 7pm). The basement features a recreation of a Meiji-era street, with a few small restaurants and bars in appropriate style. There is also a small store downstairs where you can purchase quality mochi on the cheap.Observatory admission ¥700.
- Sumiyoshi Shrine (住吉大社) (Access is from the Nankai line station of the same name; local trains run from Namba station in central Osaka.). One of Japan's oldest Shinto shrines, with a history stretching back 1800 years. Its traditional architecture is unusual among Japan's shrines, and its park-like surroundings with the sacred bridge arching over a tranquil pond make it a restful break from the busy environment of Osaka. Free.
- Shitennōji Temple (四天王寺), 1-1-18 Shitennōji Tennōji-ku (5 min. walk from Shitennōji-mae-Yuhiga-oka subway stop, or 15 min by walk north from Tennōji Station.). Originally built by Emperor Suiko in 593 AD. Although the current buildings are mostly post WWII reconstructions, the temple is a rare sample which conveys the continental style (notably the positioning of the individual buildings inside the complex) of 6th-7th century to present.
- Japan Mint (造幣局), 1-1-79 Temma Kita-ku (15 minutes walk from Temmabashi subway stop.). It's not widely known even by people from elsewhere in the country that Japan Mint is actually headquartered in Osaka. For Osakans,Sakura-no-tōrinuke (桜の通り抜け, cherry blossom tunnel road) is a synonym for this facility, attracting a large number of visitors (close to 1 million in just 7 days) during a limited, planned week in mid-Apr. A must-see if you are fond of nature and happen to drop into Osaka in-season. Free.
- Tsūtenkaku (通天閣). While the original tower was built early 20th century, the current "newer" version is designed by the same Prof. Naitō, who also designed Tokyo Tower. This landmark built in the middle of the Shinsekai (新世界) area is a symbol of reconstruction of the City of Osaka post WWII. There's a "Sky Billiken" on the platform, definitely makes your wishes come true, once you rub his feet! And if you are lucky, your guide will have another job as a comedian! Trip to the top ¥600, ouside platform with guide and safety belt extra ¥1400.
- Open Air Museum of Old Farmhouses (日本民家集落博物館 (nihon minka shūraku hakubutsukan)), Ryokuchi-koen (Take the Midosuji subway line to Ryokuchi.). Tu-Su. Ryokuchi park itself is lovely, and in it is a museum of a dozen old Edo period farmhouses, moved across country and lovingly reconstructed. Also on display are tools, furniture, and the like. You can go to Himeji-jo or the old palace in Kyoto and see how the rulers lived, but come down here to see how the people lived. Thanks to the efforts of a volunteer from Australia, they have a great new English-language brochure to guide you.¥500.
- Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum (上方浮世絵館), . Tu-Su 11AM-6PM. A rather small museum in Nanba dedicated to ukiyoe, Japanese woodblock prints. The interior of the museum looks a bit like an adobe house. It may be most interesting to someone already familiar with the art, as the information inside mostly Japanese only. ¥500.
- Peace Osaka (大阪国際平和センター), . Tu-Su 9:30AM-5PM. (Closed for renovations until April 29, 2015) A museum dedicated to the promotion of peace through displays of war. Because it is an Osaka museum, it features the effects of the bombings on Osaka in WWII. While this is of some interest, the exhibitions depicting the atrocities committed by Japan against China, Korea, and Southeast Asia are what make this museum truly worthwhile. There is also an exhibit with displays relating to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Exhibits have English explanations.
Museums & Galleries
The National Museum of Art (NMAO) is a subterranean Japanese and international art museum, housing mainly collections from the post-war era and regularly welcoming temporary exhibitions. Osaka Science Museum is in a five storied building next to the National Museum of Art, with a planetarium and an OMNIMAX theatre. The Museum of Oriental Ceramics holds more than 2,000 pieces of ceramics, from China, Korea, Japan and Vietnam, featuring displays of some of their Korean celadon under natural light. Osaka Municipal Museum of Art is inside Tennōji park, housing over 8,000 pieces of Japanese and Chinese paintings and sculptures. The Osaka Museum of History, opened in 2001, is located in a 13-story modern building providing a view of Osaka Castle. Its exhibits cover the history of Osaka from pre-history to the present day. Osaka Museum of Natural Historyhouses a collection related to natural history and life.
Things to do
- Kaiyukan(海遊館) (Osakako, Chuo Line.).This is one of the world's largest aquariums, with 11,000 tons of water and plenty of sharks (including a whale shark), dolphins, otters, seals, and other sea creatures. The largest tank, representing the Pacific Ocean with 5,400 tons is nothing but overwhelming. On the weekend, musicians and street performers offer additional entertainment to people outside the aquarium. Adults ¥2300, children ¥900.
- Tenpozan Ferris Wheel (Next to Kaiyukan in the Tempozan area.). 10AM-10PM. There is also the Suntory Museum, a mall and a port for sightseeing boats. The mall has a wide variety of shops that cater to fashionistas, otaku, tourists or dog lovers, variably. The mall itself doubles as a kind of amusement park, along with the Ferris wheel, and the best deal is to catch the ferry from there to Universal Studios across the water. ¥700, children up to 3 years old free.
- Sumo Spring Grand Tournament (大相撲春場所) (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, a 10 minute walk from the Namba subway stop.). The Osaka Tournament of Japan's national sport, sumo wrestling, is usually held mid-March annually at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. Check for schedules and ticket availabilities at the official Nihon Sumo Kyokai homepage. ¥3000-14,300.
- Universal Studios Japan (At Universal-City Station on the JR Yumesaki Line, 10 minutes from Osaka.). Japan's second-largest theme park. Expect much Japanese dubbing over your favorite characters and movies. One-day ticket for adults ¥6980, children ¥4880.
- Umeda Joypolis Sega (ジョイポリス) (next to Umeda (Osaka) station).11AM-11PM. Occupies the 8th and 9th floors of the Hep Five building with arcades and a Ferris wheel at the top. Local laws prohibit kids being here after dark even in the company of their parents, so if you want to take the kids along, plan on going early. The HEP5 Ferris is okay though. ¥500-¥600 attractions.
- Spa World (Just near Tsutenkaku Tower in Shinsakai, accessible from JR Shin-Imamiya station). 24 hours. Gender-separated European and Asian themed spas and saunas as well as a pool for the family with slides and fun (don't forget your swimming trunks). Open 24hrs so handy if stuck for accommodation or locked out of your hotel after a night on the town, just pay up, change into their cotton overalls and pass out on one of their comfy leather recliners with as many blankets as you like. Can try the outdoor onsen (try not to get burnt in the sun) or watch their huge TV in their bar with a cold beer. Gym also available to you as part of the entry fee. "Rollover" for day passes is at 9 am on the dot. Watch out for the special ¥1000 deals offered from time to time, often in March. Well worth spending an afternoon chilling out here. It is important to note that individuals with tattoos, permanent or temporary, are barred from using the facilities. ¥2400 for 3 hours, ¥2700 for all day . Extra charge ¥1300 for stays midnight-5AM.
- National Bunraku Theater (国立文楽劇場 (Kokuritsu Bunraku Gekijō)) (Nippombashi.). One of the last places in the world where bunraku, a form of intricate puppet theater from the Edo period, can be seen live. The large puppets, which require three operators each, are accompanied by traditional music and narration, and act out great Japanese plays of the 1600s and 1700s. Transcripts in Japanese and synopses in English are provided.
- Osaka Shiki Musical Theater (劇団四季 (gekidan shiki)) (In the Herbis ENT, Umeda). Home of the Shiki Theatre Company, proposing plays and musicals.
- Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (インスタントラーメン発明記念館 (insutanto ramen hatsumei kinenkan)), Ikeda (30 minutes from Umeda on the Hankyu line. There are signs in Katakana pointing the way from the south exit.).W-M 9:30AM-4PM. A homage to the universal Cup Noodle, with more flavors than could fill supermarket aisle. It features among other things, a statue of Momofuku Ando, the creator, standing atop a giant Cup Noodle holding an instant ramen packet aloft. Tour free, audio guides free with deposit, hands-on ramen workshop adults ¥500, children ¥300.
- Zepp Namba (À l'est de la station Daikokucho). A POP club
- Billboard Live Osaka (ビルボードライブ大阪). A jazz club, formerly "Blue Note Osaka".
- The City Country Club, Hyatt Regency Osaka Hotel, 1-13-11 Nanko-Kita, Suminoe-Ku, , e-mail: [email protected]. A spa.
- The festival hall in Nakanoshima, near Umeda, and the symphony hall in Umeda host modern and classical recitals, while Umeda Koma in Umeda, andShin-Kabukiza in Uehommachi host Enka performances. For more independent or underground music, try Banana Hall in Umeda or Big Cat in Amerika-mura.
Festivals and events
One of the most famous festivals held in Osaka, the Tenjin Matsuri, is held on July 24 and 25 (Ikukunitama Shrine). Other festivals in Osaka include the Aizen Matsuri (June 30–July 2, Shouman'in Temple), the Sumiyoshi Matsuri (July 30–August 1, Sumiyoshi Taisha), Shōryō-e (April 22, Shitennō-ji) and Tōka-Ebisu (January 9–10, Imamiya Ebisu Jinja). The annual Osaka Asian Film Festival takes place in Osaka every March.
There are many nightlife districts in Osaka. Nightlife in Osaka is very popular.
This area, located just south of JR Osaka station, is the most famous nightclub and entertainment district of contemporary Osaka. It’s just like Tokyo’s Ginza, filled with many hundreds of high-class bars, clubs and small restaurants where Japanese businessmen entertain their clients.
This area is the centre of nightlife.
Things to know
Osaka has a distinctive dialect of Japanese, which is favoured by many comedians in Japanese popular culture. The Osaka dialect is traditionally associated with the merchant class, and as such is regarded by many Japanese as rather rough-sounding compared to standard Japanese. While generally not a problem for advanced Japanese speakers, it may be difficult to understand if you have just started learning Japanese. All non-elderly locals are able to speak and understand standard Japanese though, so if you don't understand, just politely ask them to repeat themselves in standard Japanese (hyōjungo 標準語) and they will usually oblige.
As with most other major Japanese cities, English is spoken in major tourist attractions and large international hotels, but is otherwise not widely spoken.
The occupation of most resident Americans, Europeans and Australians is teaching English (as is the case in most of Japan). There are also many international students and staff at various universities in Osaka. In recent years, the economy in the Osaka region had been relatively stagnant compared to Tokyo's: although there are jobs in law, finance, accounting, engineering and other professional fields in Osaka, demand for foreign professionals tends to be higher in Tokyo (as is pay). Osaka does have several educational publishers that employ foreign workers, but these jobs require fluent Japanese language ability. Temporary work in a variety of industries is available.
Safety in Osaka
Osaka has a dangerous reputation (by Japanese standards), but is still remarkably safe for a city of its size, and the overall level of crime is as low as in Tokyo or other Japanese cities. However, some areas, particularly Shinsekai and Tobita, may be a little dodgy at night and the Airin/Kamagasaki area — Japan's largest slum, home to a lot of jobless and/or homeless people — south of Shin-Imamiya is best avoided at most times, especially after dark.
Incidentally, despite the movie stereotype of gangsters speaking in Osakan dialect, the actual base of Japan's biggest yakuza families is neighboring Kobe — and the most gang violence occurs in Tokyo. Unless you're dealing drugs, you're unlikely to get involved with the local mafia.