If you asked us whether you should visit only Osaka or Tokyo, we would really have a difficulty answering. Osaka seems to offer everything that Tokyo does but in a smaller area, which means there is always something to see. The shopping in Osaka seems to be second to none, with Umeda, Namba and America-mura (American village) the shopaholics among you are seriously spoiled. If you really want to experience the truly “crazy” Japan you have to visit Osaka. It’s home to some of the most eccentric shops and restaurants around, it’s hard to say you have experienced modern Japanese pop culture without vising Osaka.
Obviously there is heaps of things to do in such a large bustling city, but we have picked out a few attractions that are unique to Osaka, and maybe the world?
The best cityscape of our travels so far? Quite probably. Ok so its hard to say that the Osaka skyline is better than that of NYC or Hong Kong but it’s the way the Sky Garden delivers the view. At the top of the Umeda building there is a 360 degree catwalk that allows you to experience the whole city uninterrupted. We spent well over a hour just walking around waiting for the sun to set. This should be top of your list if you are visiting Osaka.
If you want to see “crazy Japan” you should head to Dotonbori, you wont be disappointed. This place is definately best visited at night where it comes to life as a bustling social hub. The streets and canals are lit up like Times Square and all you can smell is Octopus balls being fried on every corner. No seriously, its the local delicacy.
If you grew up playing on games consoles you are going to be able to relive your youth here. This bar is fitted out with old games consoles so you can reminisce playing the original Super Mario on the NES, or blow the crap out of each other on the original Bomber Man. Nicks favourite was Mario Kart on the SNES, he loved getting back in the drivers seat!
Cheap rooms, wow are the rooms here cheap. We stayed in two hostels offering traditional Japanese Futons (beds on the floor). A private room with shared bathroom was £13 and £5, crazy. We stayed in the Shinsekai neighborhood which gets some bad press online as being a bit of a slum, and yes it was the poorest area of Osaka for a while but with a lot of investment from the government it’s now quite a popular tourist destination. If hostels are not your thing you can pick hotels up from as little as £30 providing you book well in advance.
You will have no problem finding something to eat in Osaka, but you should be braver than we were and try the Octopus balls in Dotonbori. However if that’s really not your thing don’t worry, Osaka is brimming with restaurants from all over the world. If you are on a budget just head in to one of the many Family Marts, 7-11’s or Lawson’s to pick up something to keep you going.
Osaka has a good subway system that’s very cheap, a single ticket varying depending on how far you are going. Staying local we never paid more than £1.20 each way. However Osaka is small enough that you can walk to most central places. When venturing further afield we would generally walk there and grab the tube back.