Sad to say but my articles about Japan are coming to an end as I ran out of places I visited during my japanese trip xD This was a lifetime’s wish and I’m very grateful to my father and my family that could make this big dream of mine be possible! Osaka is the last city I visited in Japan but not the least beautiful or surprising; it is the cliché asian supercity that is often portrayed by western media.
- Some Information About Osaka
Osaka has the second largest metropolitan area in Japan, making it the second biggest japanese city, and is ranked among the largest ones in the world. Osaka’s origins date back to Asuka and Nara Periods but its real fame started during Edo Period, by becoming one of the most important merchant cities in Japan, in a nutshell the driving force of that time japanese economy. It is also famous for its popular culture like Kabuki, the traditional japanese theatre, and the 浮世絵 (ukiyo-e) (which I personally love): a kind of pictures that can either depict the daily life of japanese people or fairytales and folk-tales or even geisha, sumo wrestlers, etc. I am sure that all of you, even if you have never realized, know at least one of these ukiyo-e, that is to say “the Great Wave off Kanagawa” by Hokusai, the well-known japanese painter from Edo Period. Osaka is also notable for its castle, that was constructed by Toyotomi Hideyoshi after the defeat of Oda Nobunaga and the consequently destruction of the temple he resided in. I guess it is hard to understand for those who are not familiar with Japanese history so I stop here xD Osaka is also popular among Japanese as food destination as many japanese yummy food have their origins here such as Okonomiyaki, that I did not have the honour to taste ç_ç
I actually stayed in Osaka for two days, as the third one, even if we had some free time in the morning – our plane would have left in the evening – we left really early….there is a reason for this but it is not the main point of the article sooooo let’s go back to the main highlights you should not miss if you are passing through Osaka 😉
- Shinsekai – 新世界
Eh eh you expected me to start with the usual Osaka Castle but nope! I decided to put this at the top of the list because it is often ignored by the most part of tourists and even japanese tourists themselves, as I heard. It is rumoured to be one of the most dangerous districts in Osaka and inwhole Japan, since many yakuza members owned this area and the prostitution is widely practiced here. Why did we decide to visit here? Well, it is actually because of a joke my boyfriend made: “let’s go to Tennoji, there is Yakuza there eh eh” and so did we ahaha xD
Despite all the rumours, we enjoyed this place a lot and I saw nothing weird going on here @@ For me it was just like being in an anime! Everything was so lighted up and cartoon-like that I could hardly believe my eyes! My boyfriend told me this area started developing after the war and hosted the World Exposition or something like this and for the big event, they built the so-called Tsutenkaku Tower; I, later, read it is was modeled after the Tour Eiffel but to be honest, it does not absolutely look like the real one xD The area is very nice as it portrays the real essence of japanese street food: you can find food everywhere there and above all, all the food there is of Osaka origins.
- How to Reach:
Take the JR loop line and get off at Shin-Inamiya Station, highly recommended to those who owns the Japan Rail Pass.
Note: Shinsekai is part of the Tennoji District, located in the southern part of the city.
2. Tempozan Ferris Wheel
Well, this time we decided to visit the harbour just to have a deeper insight of japanese sea, as we could barely see it, despite Japan being a country made up of islands xD We just wanted to have a stroll near the sea but we ended up finding this lovely ferris wheel and riding it too xD From the ferris wheel, you can have a beautiful view over the surrounding area: one of the most prominent landmark being the man-made Osaka Bay. If you’re interested, near the Ferris Wheel, you can find one of the biggest aquarium in the world.
- How to Reach:
- The Tempozan Harbour can be reached through Chuo Subway Line and get off at Osakako Station, from here to the harbour it takes just 10 minutes walk.
- The ticket costs 700 yen and the ride takes 20 minutes more or less.
3. Nanba – 難波
Nanba is the most lively district in Osaka, famous for its food and shopping area. It is the center of the Minami, that means south, District. We can soon understand why it is so popular: it hosts several pubs, bars, nightclubs and pachinko, something like an arcade game and gamble mixed together, in short the worst thing ever xD My boyfriend said that this area resembles a lot Akihabara, the electronic district in Tokyo. It is, indeed, like he said: many anime shops with female action figures with the weirdest (and most embarrassing) poses, endless game wards and people constantly looking at a screen playing arcade games….you know, Japanese has a big rising problem that regards these kinds of people or as they like calling them Otaku. The situation gets even worse when they become Hikikimori, a word employed in Japanese, that indicates those people who gave up on a normal social life and locks themselves at home, in the most complete isolation, playing games and stuff (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hikikomori)
Dotonbori – 道頓堀
Dotonbori is just a parallel street to the canal of the same name, part of the already mentioned Nanba District, and it is most well-known for its crazily illuminated signboards, one displaying the Glico Man, which is the symbol of this Japanese confectionery company. To make you understand better, they are the guys who made Mikado, even though in Japan they are called “Pocky“. The area under the super shining and colorful screens is overcrowded with people but you just need to move a bit along the river to reach a place where nobody goes and enjoying the view from there.
- How to Reach:
There are so many ways to reach here that I do not even know where to start! It is served by any kinds of buses, railway lines and subways. I will just tell you the easiest one: use the Sennichimae Subway Line and get off at Nanba Station.
4. Osaka Castle – 大阪城
I left Osaka Castle as the last thing to see, according to what I did too. The castle was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, as he wanted it to become the symbol of the unified Japan, on an area where, previously, there was a temple. After the death of Hideyoshi, the castle was assaulted by the Tokugawa army and, as we can imagine, totally destroyed, even if one of the Tokugawas rebuilt it again. The castle survived for a few years but it was struck by a lighting. It seems the destiny really did not want this castle to live xD It was, then, rebuilt in recent times and everything inside, starting from the lifts installed to bring people up, is new.
It is harder to reach the castle itself than going around the large city of Osaka! It is surrounded by numerous gates, citadels and gardens that makes you think you will never reach the destination. I even found a shinto temple but I got used to this since I noticed they are scattered literally everywhere here in Japan. Despite being a major attraction, on that day it was not crowded at all, there were just some random tourists visiting around so i could take nice photos.
Ahhh this was my last post about Japan, so sad to say this! I was really sad when I left my favourite country…I cried in a bowl of noodles at the airport :,) Despite all the difficulties we had during our trip: starting from the language, the writing that my father could not decipher at all, the food that looked so alien to us and of course the large cities that make you feel small and lost but everything turned out to be the total opposite: kind people that gave their best to help you even if your japanese is not the best, the writings are not just in japanese but in latin alphabet too, the food is crazily tasty and even healthy and the cities that, even if they are enormous, are well-organized and maps that show you your location anywhere you go….to sum it up…a great country and the best trip I have ever had in my whole life 😉 I could even enjoy a breathtaking view from the plane when flying above the desert <3