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Osaka: Japan’s cultural charm

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Book a flight to Osaka

Osaka’s charm comes from its ability to combine big-city credentials with small-town Japanese warmth. People here are engaging and courteous, with a lively sense of humour. 

This city is full of contradictions, from its high-rise residential blocks to labyrinths of underground shops. So book a flight to Osaka to explore a city that marches to the beat of its own drum.

Osaka highlights

Once you've absorbed some of the city’s culture at Osaka Castle and the Museum of History, embrace your inner child with a visit to Universal Studios. Then, get ready to immerse your taste buds in the Osaka street food scene.

  • Tourist attractions

    There is so much more than just neon lights and sushi restaurants to see on a trip to Osaka , and nowhere is this more evident than in the Osaka Museum of History. Jump on the subway to Tanimachi 4-Chome station to explore Osaka’s illustrious past from feudal times to modern day. Exhibits are interactive and family-friendly, and there is even an hour-long condensed tour, with  a more in-depth, longer tour for a fuller story.

    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 1900s. Rather than leaving a collection of winding wooden staircases and empty rooms, sleek elevators were installed, allowing a constant flow of visitors through the building.

    The eighth floor offers a spectacular view of the city. If you are travelling with children, your trip to Osaka should also take in Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the world’s largest boasting more than 11,000 tonnes of water. Gigantic spider crabs, king penguins and even whale sharks are on display. It is a short walk from Osaka-ko station and you will often find street entertainers playing outside.

  • Leisure activities

    A trip to Osaka is full of weird and wonderful sights, including Spa World. Set  in the centre of Osaka, Spa World is a peculiar fusion of spa and  Vegas-style glitz. It is the perfect place to unwind. Choose from Roman-style baths, indoor pools or a fully stocked gym.

    If you are travelling with children, a day out at Universal Studios Japan, in Osaka Bay, is the ideal treat. Its film-themed rides and attractions, restaurants and shops  make it one of Osaka’s most popular attractions, so get there early if you can.

    You cannot fail to spot the HEP Five Ferris Wheel next to Osaka Station, and there  is no better way of seeing the city. The ride lasts 15 minutes and the carriages are  fully air-conditioned. It is likely to be one of the highlights of your trip.

    You can also visit other Japanese cities such as Kyoto, Kobe and Himeji, using Osaka as a base. Most are around an hour’s travel by public transport. There are several famous temples in Kyoto, such as Kinkaku-ji and Kiyomizu-dera, which are certified as World Heritage sites, 

    Pay a visit to the beautiful harbour city of Kobe, or wander around Himeji-jo, one of the most popular castles in Japan, located in Himeji.

  • Food

    Osaka lives up to its nickname of “the nation’s kitchen” and, contrary to what you might believe, a trip here does not mean living off raw fish. One of the most  popular dishes, served by street vendors and restaurants alike, is okonomiyaki. This is halfway between an omelette and a pancake, served with special sauce,  and you can choose your filling, from noodles, seafood or meat.

    Alternatively, there are noodle stalls in abundance, selling stir fries, soups and Japanese curries. The Dōtonbori district is famous for street food, so if you are in the area, you will be spoiled for choice.

  • Shopping

    Osaka can almost be defined by its shopping districts but you need to know what  you are looking for. Namba and Tennoji probably have the largest shopping  centres, but off the beaten track you will find many other treasures. If you want some fashionable, vintage clothing, head for the Amerikamura district.

    Branded designer merchandise can be found in Midosuji. And for gadget lovers, there’s no better district than Den Den Town – if you cannot find it here, it probably hasn’t been invented yet.

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