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Book a flight to Osaka with Qatar Airways and you won’t just be going to see the city, you’ll be going there to experience it. Although Osaka doesn’t quite have the picturesque architecture or lush greenery of Tokyo, what it does have is the ability to combine that ‘big city’ feel with small town warmth.
The people here are engaging and courteous, but with an unexpected sense of humour. The city itself is full of contradictions, from the high-rise blocks to the labyrinths of underground shops. Catch a flight to Osaka with Qatar Airways, and visit a city that marches to the sound of its own drum.
There’s much more to see on a trip to Osaka than neon lights and sushi and nowhere is this more evident than in the Osaka Museum of History. Jump on the subway to Tani-machi 4-Chome station and you could be exploring Osaka’s illustrious past, from feudal times to modern day. It’s fully interactive and family-friendly and there’s even a condensed tour, lasting just an hour, or a longer one for a more in-depth experience.
Osaka Castle is probably the city’s most prominent attraction and an enduring symbol of Japan’s ability to change with the times. Originally built in the 16th Century, it was reconstructed in the early 20th Century. However, rather than leaving it a collection of winding wooden staircases and empty rooms, sleek elevators were installed, allowing a constant and convenient flow of visitors through the building. The eighth floor offers the most spectacular view of Osaka itself.
If you’re travelling with children, your trip to Osaka should also take in Osaka Aquarium – Kaiyu kan, which boasts over 11,000 tons of water. This houses an astonishing array of creatures, including gigantic spider crabs, king penguins and even whale sharks. It’s a short walk from Osaka-ko station and you’ll often find street entertainers playing outside.
A trip to Osaka is full of weird and wonderful sights, including Spa World. It’s set in the centre of Osaka and is a peculiar fusion of a spa, a space centre, with a bit of Vegas glitz thrown in. However, if you want to unwind, there’s no better place to be. You can choose from Roman-style baths, outdoor pools or even hit the gym.
Alternatively, you can take the kids to Universal Studios Japan, situated in Osaka Bay. It’s all there: film-themed rides and attractions, with restaurants and shops. This is one of Osaka’s most popular attractions, so get there early if you can.
You can’t fail to spot the HEP Five Ferris Wheel next to Osaka Station and there’s no better way of seeing the city in all its glory. The ride lasts 15 minutes and the carriages are fully air-conditioned and it’s sure to be one of the highlights of your trip to Osaka.
You can also visit popular cities such as Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji from Osaka just 1hour by local transportation. There are many famous temples in Kyoto certified as World Heritage sites, like the Kinkaku ji and Kiyomizy dera. Enjoy Himeji jo, one of the most popular castles in Japan located in Himeji, or the beautiful harbour city of Kobe.
Osaka lives up to its nickname of ‘the nation’s kitchen’ and, contrary to what you might believe, a trip to Osaka doesn’t mean living off raw fish. One of the most popular dishes, served by street vendors and restaurants alike, is Okonomiyaki. Halfway between an omelette and a pancake, you can choose your filling from noodles, seafood or meat and have it served up with Okonomiyaki sauce.
Alternatively, there are noodle stalls in abundance, selling stir fries and soups and Japanese curries. The Dotonbori district is famous for its street food, so if you’re in the area, be prepared to eat well.
Shopping is one of the main pastimes for the locals and the city can almost be defined by its shopping districts. A trip to Osaka just wouldn’t be complete without browsing the various shopping areas – but you need to know what you’re looking for! Namba and Tennoji probably have the largest shopping centres but, off the beaten track, you’ll fund other treasures. If you want some fashionable, vintage clothing, head on down to the Amerikamura district.
Alternatively, if it’s designer-brand items you’re after, then take a trip to the Midosuji district. For gadget lovers, there’s no better district than Denden Town – if they haven’t got it, it probably hasn’t been invented yet!
Flights to Osaka will bring you into Kansai International Airport, where you can hire a car, rent a taxi or buy tickets for the subway or bus. Travelling in Osaka for the first time can be confusing, but there are plenty of staff on hand to help.
Visa restrictions for entry into the country will depend on your country of origin, length of stay and whether your trip is for business or pleasure. So before you fly to Osaka please check the visa and passport requirements.
Currency: Japanese Yen (JPY)
Voltage: 100 V 50 / 60 Hz
Plugs: Type A / B
International dialing code: +81