Discovering Osaka’s most famous Japanese neighborhoods
Osaka is known for being the third largest city in Japan but also for its nightlife, its gastronomic variety and its Universal Studios theme park dedicated to film.
With two days in Osaka you have more than enough to see the most famous neighborhoods and places of renown. Even so, if you don’t have too much time, one day should be enough. However, you won’t have time to see the Universal Studios theme park.
Where to stay in Osaka?
The most central and famous neighborhoods of the city are Namba and Dotonbori. In both you will find hundreds of restaurants, hotels, subway stops to move around the city and bars where you can have a sake, the famous Japanese drink.
Specifically, I stayed at the Wasabi Hostel (Osaka Bed with Library) located in Namba. I found it in Booking and it is one of the best valued value for money. Both the bedrooms and bathrooms are impeccably clean. The workers are very polite and help you as much as they can. There is a common area that is a great bookstore full of comics that will enchant all those who like the manga world.
How to get to Namba from Kansai Airport?
Osaka airport is called Kansai International Airport. If you arrive in Osaka from the airport, it is very easy to get to the Namba area. The Nankai trains have their last stop at Namba station so have to buy your ticket at the airport and just get into the Nankai train tracks (orange entrance). You will arrive at Namba Station in about 40 minutes. The ticket costs 920 yen.
From there it is no more than a 10 minute walk to the hostel. It’s difficult to get lost but if you use Google Maps or Maps me, of course it will be easier.
How to find your way around Osaka?
What I liked most about this hostel was its location. Right on the edge where Namba ends and Dotondori begins. Ideal to move to any side of foot or in subway.
If you head south you’ll find Den Den town (an area of video game freaks and all kinds of manga) and the Shinsekai district where the famous Tsutenkaku Tower is located. Not far away, a 10-minute walk away, you can visit Isshin-ji Temple, a beautiful Japanese temple enclosure that includes a small, well-kept cemetery.
On the other hand, from Namba, if you go north, you will first find the Dotonbori district, the river area and all its restaurants. If you keep climbing you’ll pass Shinsaibashi, a popular shopping district. A little further northwest is Osaka Castle, which although not one of the best in Japan, is certainly worth a visit.
¿Qué ver en Osaka?
- Namba District
- Dotonbori District
- Osaka Castle
- Tsutenkaku Tower
- Den Den Town
- Isshin-ji Temple
- Universal Studios Theme Park
What are the traditional dishes?
Osaka’s most famous dish is undoubtedly Takoyaki, a fried ball made of wheat flour stuffed with octopus and with ginger and sliced seaweed on top. Takoyaki is originally from Osaka so you can find it almost anywhere. Prices are around 400-500 yen (3-4 euros) for 6 Takoyaki balls. (Here there is a link about how to make Takoyaki)
Another famous dish in Osaka is Okonomiyaki, which consists of a flour dough cooked on the grill (similar to noodles) with the ingredients of your choice (vegetables, meat, fish). It is a kind of Japanese tortilla. (Here there is a link about how to make Okonomiyaki)
How to get from Osaka to Nara?
Nara is right next to Osaka and is one of those destinations that everyone recommends. If you don’t have a Jr Pass (Japan Rail Pass), you can take the Kintetsu train line from Namba Station.
To get to the Kintetsu line you have to go down to the second floor and from there walk to the end of the corridor. Tickets are purchased right at the entrance to the tracks. The ticket to Nara costs a total of 560 yen and takes only 40 minutes to arrive.
In Nara you can enjoy the deer park, where hundreds of deer walk at will.
First impression on Japan
So far Japan has surprised me with its small details. Everything is meticulously cared for and everything seems to have its beauty. It’s also surprising how many engine rooms you find and how big they are. In the mornings, before opening, there are people sneaking in to play.
And of course, manga culture is present almost everywhere. You’ll find streets full of manga-only shops dedicated to comics, sculptures and stickers. There are even cafés where the waitresses are dressed as maids. Japan is undoubtedly a world apart and a world worth seeing.
Try to make your words better than silence.
– Japanese proverb –