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Osaka

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Osaka (prefecture) : Osaka
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Osaka Castle and the skyscrapers of Osaka Business Park, Kyōbashi

Ōsaka (大阪) is the third largest city in Japan, with a population of over 17 million people in its greater metropolitan area. It is the central metropolis of the Kansai region and the largest of the Osaka-Kobe-Kyoto trio.

Districts

Wards of Osaka

"Osaka" can mean either the larger Osaka prefecture (大阪府 Ōsaka-fu), covered in a separate guide, or central Osaka city (大阪市 Ōsaka-shi), the topic of this guide. The city is administratively divided into 24 wards (区 ku), but in common usage the following divisions are more useful:

  • Kita (キタ, "north") — the newer center of the city, including the Kita ward (北区). Umeda (梅田) is the main terminal. Department stores, theaters and boutiques are clustered around JR Osaka Station and Umeda Station, which serves several city and private railways.
  • Minami (ミナミ, "south") — the traditional commercial and cultural center, composed of the Chuo (中央区) and Naniwa (浪速区) wards. Namba (なんば, 難波) is the main railway station, and the surrounding area has the department store and showy shopping. Shinsaibashi (心斎橋) and Horie (堀江) is the fashion area. Dōtonbori (道頓堀) is the best place to go for a bite to eat.
  • Semba (船場) straddles the line between Kita and Minami, and contains the business districts of Yodoyabashi (淀屋橋), Doujima (堂島) and Hommachi (本町); and the financial district of Kitahama (北浜).
  • Tennōji (天王寺) or Abeno (アベノ, あべの, 阿倍野) — generally means the area around JR Tennōji Station, Abeno and Tennoji subway stations and Kintetsu rail lines, located at the south end of Tennōji ward. The ward was named after the historical Shitennoji temple. Tennōji Park and Zoo are in the area. To the west of Tennōji is Shinsekai (新世界), which was an amusement area in the past and has now become quite seedy.

Other important places include:

  • Kyōbashi (京橋) — northeast of Osaka Castle, home to Osaka Business Park (OBP).
  • Shin-Osaka (新大阪) — Shin-Osaka Station (the shinkansen and airport express stop)

Understand

Osaka and the "808 Bridges" (八百八橋)

Many districts in Osaka derive their names from the Tokugawa-era bridges that were built during the city's reign as transportation hub for the country. Today, Yodoyabashi (淀屋橋) and Kyobashi (京橋) still retain their crossings, while the bridges in Yotsubashi (四ツ橋), Nagahoribashi (長堀橋)and Shinsaibashi (心斎橋) are long gone.

橋 (hashi, often pronounced -bashi, when affixed to a preceding name) is the kanji character meaning 'bridge'.

If Tokyo is Japan's capital, one might call Osaka its anti-capital. Whatever you call it, though, there are many opportunities for you to discover its true character.

Veiled much with a commercial-centric city touch, you may as well start from picking up the lively intonation of Osaka dialect, heard from the people as you ride on the escalators standing on the right, instead of the left in Tokyo; then discovering the contrast of popular food to eastern Japan, as you look for places to lunch. The deeper you get inside, and at the end of your stay, it is not completely impossible that you may have compiled your own original list of reasons covering from history, culture, sports, to business.

Osaka dates back to the Asuka and Nara period. Under the name Naniwa (難波), it was the capital of Japan from 683 to 745, long before the upstarts at Kyoto took over. Even after the capital was moved elsewhere, Osaka continued to play an important role as a hub for land, sea and river-canal transportation. (See "808 Bridges" infobox.) During the Tokugawa era, while Edo (now Tokyo) served as the austere seat of military power and Kyoto was the home of the Imperial court and its effete courtiers, Osaka served as "the Nation's Kitchen" (「天下の台所」 tenka-no-daidokoro), the collection and distribution point for rice, the most important measure of wealth. Hence it was also the city where merchants made and lost fortunes and cheerfully ignored repeated warnings from the shogunate to reduce their conspicuous consumption.

During Meiji era, Osaka's fearless entrepreneurs took the lead in industrial development, making it the equivalent of Manchester in the U.K. A thorough drubbing in World War 2 left little evidence of this glorious past — even the castle is a ferroconcrete reconstruction — but to this day, while unappealing and gruff on the surface, Osaka remains Japan's best place to eat, drink and party, and in legend (if not in practice) Osakans still greet each other with mōkarimakka?, "are you making money?".

Get in

By plane

The main international gateway to Osaka is Kansai International Airport (IATA: KIX) [1]. The airport has two railway connections to the city: JR West's Kansai Airport Line and the private Nankai Electric Railway.

Most domestic flights arrive at Osaka International Airport, also known as Itami Airport (IATA: ITM), [2]. Itami is connected to the Osaka Monorail [3], but the monorail is expensive and traces an arc around the northern suburbs, so to get to the centre of the city you will need to transfer to a suburban Hankyu railway line. A more convenient option for most are the Airport Limousine Buses [4], which run frequently from Itami to various locations within Osaka and elsewhere in the region (including Kansai Airport), with fares starting around ¥500-600. Taxi from Itami airport to Osaka castle area costs ¥4000 plus ¥700 for toll road.

By train

Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansen (新幹線) trains arrive at Shin-Osaka station, to the north of the city center. From Shin-Osaka, you can connect to the city center by using the Midosuji subway line, or connect to the local JR network for other destinations.

  • From Tokyo, Nozomi (のぞみ) trains cover the one way ride in about 2 1/4 hours (¥14050); Hikari (ひかり) trains take 3 hours and all-stopping Kodama (こだま) trains take 4 hours (both ¥13750). With the Japan Rail Pass, there is no charge to take the Shinkansen if you use the Hikari or Kodama service.
  • From points west of Osaka, Nozomi trains run from Okayama (¥6060, 45 mins), Hiroshima (¥10150, 80 mins) and Hakata station in Fukuoka (¥14890, 2 1/4 hours). Japan Rail Pass holders can use the Hikari Rail Star (ひかりレールスター) service instead, which runs at a comparable speed to the Nozomi and makes a few more stops, but its trains are shorter (8 car trains, compared to 16 cars on the Nozomi). Slower Kodama trains connect the rest of the stations on the route.

If travelling from the east without a rail pass, you can take advantage of the Puratto Kodama Ticket (in Japanese). This ticket offers a discount for the all-stopping Kodama services if you purchase at least one day in advance. You get a reserved seat and a free drink on board. With this ticket a trip from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka costs ¥10000 - a savings of almost ¥4000. Note that there is only one Kodama service per hour from Tokyo, and a few early-morning Kodama trains cannot be used with this ticket.

During travel periods when the Seishun 18 Ticket is valid, you can go from Tokyo to Osaka during the day in about nine hours using all-local trains. Travelling in a group, however, discounts the cost significantly from the standard ¥8500 fare: A party of three costs ¥3800 per person, and a group of five traveling together brings the cost down to ¥2300 per person. See the Seishun 18 Ticket article for more information.

There are many regional railway lines connecting Osaka to nearby cities:

  • From Kyoto, JR offers fast, but slightly more expensive, shin-kaisoku (special rapid) trains to Osaka Station. The cheaper but slower alternative is the Hankyu Railway's limited express service. Both lines terminate in the Umeda area of Osaka. Keihan Railway offers Kyoto-Osaka trains. The Yodoyabashi terminal in Osaka does not connect directly with JR, but it is possible to transfer to the JR Osaka Loop Line at Kyobashi.

In Kyoto, Keihan and Hankyu trains do not connect with JR Kyoto station but both travel to stations which are more convenient for reaching the centre of the city. about 30 - 45 minutes.

  • From Kobe, JR again offers slightly faster and slightly more expensive service than Hankyu. The third choice is Hanshin Railway, which is identical to Hankyu in terms of cost and similar in time, useful for getting to Koshien Stadium to see Hanshin Tigers games. All three lines go to Osaka / Umeda. about 20 minutes.
  • From Nara, JR offers trains to Tennōji and Osaka Stations, and Kintetsu offers trains to Namba. Kintetsu station in Nara is closer to Tōdaiji and Nara Park. about 35 - 45 minutets.
  • From Nagoya, an alternative to the Shinkansen is Kintetsu's premium limited express service, the Urban Liner (アーバンライナー) which goes directly to Namba. Trip times are as little as two hours each way, with departures at 0 and 30 minutes past the hour at a cost of ¥4150. In comparison, the shinkansen takes just under an hour for ¥5670.

Stations with the same name but belonging to different railway companies are sometimes very far apart. For example, the Nakatsu stations on the Hankyu and subway networks are about an hour's walk from each other, even though they look close on the railway map. Allow up to half an hour for walking between the various Umeda stations and about the same for the various Namba stations, especially if you are a first time visitor. In Kobe the Sannomiya stations belonging to JR and Hankyu are connected but Hanshin Sannomiya is across a street.

Overnight by train

With the discontinuation of the Ginga express train in 2008, direct daily overnight train service between Tokyo and Osaka was curtailed to a single Tokyo-bound departure only - the Sunrise Izumo/Sunrise Seto leaving Osaka station at 12:34AM and arriving in Tokyo just after 7AM.

An overnight train journey by rail is still possible by taking a route via northern Japan. This requires a change of trains and a large sum of money. As a result, this may be of interest to Japan Rail Pass holders. From Tokyo Station, take the final Joetsu Shinkansen towards Niigata and change at Nagaoka Station (長岡駅) for the Kitaguni (きたぐに) express train to Osaka. The rail pass fully covers the nine hour trip, provided you use unreserved seating on the Kitaguni (couchettes are available at extra cost). As of November 2009, Max Toki (とき) #353 departs Tokyo Station at 9:40PM and arrives in Nagaoka at 11:26PM. This connects to the Kitaguni, leaving Nagaoka at 11:53PM and arriving in Osaka at 6:49AM. The return Kitaguni leaves Osaka at 11:27PM and arrives in Nagaoka at 7:14AM. The bullet train connection is on Toki #304, which leaves Nagaoka at 7:23AM and arrives in Tokyo at 9:12AM.

During high-peak travel periods, one can take the Noto Express (能登) from Ueno Station to Kanazawa, changing there to a morning Thunderbird (サンダーバード) train to Osaka. Check the timetables to see when the Noto runs.

While the northern Japan train route can prove to be a good value, depending on how you use your rail pass, remember that the rail pass is also valid for JR buses operating between Tokyo and Osaka (see 'By Bus').

Two overnight trains make runs to and from Osaka Station and northern Japan: the Twilight Express (トワイライトエクスプレス) which runs to Hokkaido, terminating at Sapporo, and the Nihonkai (日本海) train which runs to Aomori in northern Tohoku.

The services listed above also pick up/drop off passengers at Shin-Osaka Station.

During University holidays there are some additional overnight services to Matsuyama, Kochi and Fukuoka. As these are considered rapid services they can be very economical if you use a Seishun 18 Ticket.

Overnight by train with rest stop

As a Rail Pass holder, you may also choose to simply split up your journey, stopping at an intermediate destination en-route in order to sleep somewhere, and the cost incurred will only be for the hotel room. This is also a good way to travel overnight, especially if you are able to find cheap accommodation, such as a business hotel. Yes, it may be a little hectic, and it might require some research, but this method carries two significant advantages: location and money. You will more than likely find good accommodation very close to a main train station in a smaller city, compared to a big city such as Tokyo, and it will more than likely be cheaper than hotels found in Tokyo. You could use the money you save to forward some of your luggage to Osaka using a luggage delivery service and take an overnight bag with you, which will make the journey easier.

For example, you can use the Tokaido Shinkansen late at night and sleep over at a hotel in Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Toyohashi or Nagoya; In the morning, grab one of the first bullet train departures in the same direction to continue your trip. As of December 2009, here is one way you could go about this: at 10 PM, take the Hikari train for a 75-minute ride to Hamamatsu. Once there you can take a rest at Hamamatsu's Toyoko Inn, which costs ¥6000 for a single room. At 6:30 the next morning, board the first bullet train of the day, a Kodama, and you will be at Shin-Osaka station by 8:15.

By car

It is generally a bad idea to use an automobile to visit Osaka. Many streets do not have names, signs are usually only in Japanese and parking fees are astronomical. In addition, an international driver's license is required.

By bus

As Osaka is a major city, there are many daytime and overnight buses which run between Osaka and other locations throughout Japan, which can result in significant savings when compared to shinkansen fares.

The JR Bus Group (Japanese Website) is a major operator of the routes from the Tokyo area to Kansai. Buses operate via the Tomei Expressway (to/from Tokyo Station) or the Chuo Expressway (to/from Shinjuku Station).

Other bus companies offer trips between Tokyo and Osaka, but it should be pointed out that seat reservations for most JR Buses can be made in train stations at the same "Midori-no-Madoguchi" (みどりの窓口) ticket windows used to reserve seats on trains. Moreover, the Japan Rail Pass is valid on ALL JR buses operating from the Tokyo area to Osaka. (Note that the pass is NOT valid on buses to/from Yokohama.)

Bus tickets are also sold at separate ticket counters operated by the various JR bus companies; you can find these counters in and around major train stations served by the buses. If you wish to buy discounted advance-purchase tickets offered on most buses, you must purchase your tickets at these counters, not from the "Midori-no-Madoguchi" windows.

From Tokyo, buses run to and from Osaka in approximately 8 to 8 1/2 hours. Major bus locations are as follows:

  • Tokyo: Tokyo Station Yaesu Exit (東京駅八重洲口), with a few buses discharging at the Nihombashi Exit (東京駅日本橋口)
  • Shinjuku: Shinjuku Station New South Exit (新宿駅新南口)
  • Osaka: Osaka Station Sakura-bashi Exit (大阪駅桜橋口)

All buses that run from Tokyo to Osaka are double-decker buses and can be classified under the following three categories, in order of price:

  • Seishun (Youth) buses: While not exactly targeted at "youth", these are the budget-conscious buses on the route. Seats are narrow with four per row in a 2x2 configuration and limited recline.
  • Standard buses: These are the regular buses, which offer seats with increased width and footrests. They are arranged three per aisle in a 1x1x1 configuration. Blankets are provided on evening routes.
  • Premium buses: Recently introduced, these buses are the luxury members of the route. The seats are bigger, and the buses seat less people than the others. In addition to the extra room, there is also air filtration and a closed-circuit camera system. On the top floor, seats are arranged three per row in a 1x1x1 configuration. More expansive first floor seating (of which there is only four seats) incurs an additional surcharge... but you do get your own television. Blankets and toiletries are provided in all seats on evening routes.

The following services are available: (Current as of November, 2010)

Daytime buses from Tokyo

Seishun Bus

One daily departure on the Tomei from Tokyo Station (9:40) and Osaka Station (10:10). ¥4200 each way. Additional departures on Fridays, weekends and holidays.

Standard Bus

Four buses per day between Tokyo and Osaka. Departures from Tokyo Station at 7:10 via the Tomei, 8:10 via the Chuo, 12:10 via the Chuo and 13:10 via the Tomei with a pickup in Shinjuku 40 minutes later. Buses from Osaka Station depart for Shinjuku and Tokyo at 7:10 via the Tomei, 8:10 via the Chuo, 12:10 via the Chuo and 13:10 via the Tomei. ¥6000 each way and ¥5000 if purchased 5 days in advance on most Monday-Thursday departures. Additional buses run on Fridays, weekends and holidays.

A daytime bus also departs for Osaka from Yokohama Station at 8:55. The trip from Osaka to Yokohama leaves at 10:50. ¥6000 each way.

Premium Bus

Two daily departures on the Tomei from Tokyo Station at 10:10 and 11:10, and from Osaka Station at 9:10 and 11:10. First floor ¥7300 each way, second floor ¥6000-6200 each way; ¥5000 if purchased 5 days in advance on most Monday-Thursday departures.

Nighttime buses from Tokyo

The nighttime bus service from Tokyo to Kansai is called Dream. This route name has several variants.

Seishun Bus
  • Three Seishun Dream buses run from Tokyo to Osaka. Buses from Tokyo pick up at Tokyo Station (23:00 via the Tomei), Ueno Station (22:30 via the Tomei) and Shinjuku Station (23:00 and 23:50, both via the Chuo). Return trips from Osaka Station depart for Tokyo Station (23:40 via the Tomei), Ueno Station (23:40 via the Tomei) and Shinjuku Station (22:20 and 23:10, both via the Chuo).
  • The Seishun Ladies Dream is a special bus for women only. One daily departure via the Tomei from Tokyo Station (22:00) and Shinjuku Station (22:40). The trip from Osaka Station to Shinjuku and Tokyo leaves at 21:40.

For the Seishun Dream and Seishun Ladies Dream: ¥5000 each way and ¥4500 if purchased 5 days in advance on most Monday-Thursday departures. Additional buses run on Fridays, weekends and holidays.

The next two are for the budget-conscious, as they are the two least expensive journeys on the Tokyo-Osaka bus route.

  • The Seishun Eco-Dream is a regular, 2x2 double-decker bus, the difference being that there is another row of seats crammed onto the top level, which reduces legroom. These Eco-Dream buses have become so popular that four runs are now offered every evening: Two runs from Tokyo Station via the Tomei (22:40, 23:40) with an additional pick-up at Shin-Kiba, and two runs from Shinjuku Station via the Chuo (22:30, 23:30). From Osaka Station, buses to Tokyo and Shin-Kiba depart at 22:10 and 23:20, and buses to Shinjuku via the Chuo depart at 21:30 and 22:40.
  • The Super Youth Bus (irregular departures) utilizes a single-level bus, compared to the other double-decker buses. An ordinary gaijin, however, might scoff at the fact that there is no toilet on board... although you do get four 15-minute chances to use a restroom at a service area. Nevertheless this particular bus service is quite popular with the Japanese because of its low cost. So for the brave (defined in this case as those whose bladders and sleep can hold up for the duration of the trip), there is a daily departure from Tokyo Station via the Tomei (21:40) and a daily departure from Shinjuku via the Chuo (21:30). Return services depart Osaka for Shinjuku (21:50) and Tokyo (23:00).

For the Super Youth Bus and Seishun Eco-Dream: ¥4300 each way if purchased on day of departure; ¥3500-4000 if purchased in advance. Tickets must be purchased at a JR bus counter, not at a "Midori-no-Madoguchi" window.

Regular Bus
  • Two Dream buses runs overnight between Tokyo and Osaka via the Tomei Expressway. Buses leave from Tokyo Station at 23:20 via the Tomei, and from Shinjuku Station at 22:50 via the Chuo. From Osaka Station, buses leave for Shinjuku Station at 21:50 via the Chuo, and for Tokyo Station at 23:50 via the Tomei. Buses to/from Tokyo make an additional stop at Shin-Kiba.
  • The Ladies Dream is a special bus for women only. One daily departure via the Tomei from Tokyo Station (22:30) and Shinjuku Station (23:10). The trip from Osaka Station to Shinjuku and Tokyo leaves at 22:50.

For the Dream and Ladies Dream: ¥7200 each way for most Monday-Thursday departures and ¥8600 each way for Friday, weekend and holiday departures. Discounts of between ¥1000 and ¥2200 with advance purchase for most journeys.

  • The Harbor Line Bus departs daily from Yokohama Station at 22:00, with the return bus leaving Osaka Station at 22:00. ¥7300 for Monday-Thursday departures; ¥8230 for Friday, weekend and holiday departures.
  • The Keihanshin Dream Saitama Bus departs daily from Omiya Station (21:20) and Tachikawa Station (23:00). The bus from Osaka Station for Tachikawa and Omiya departs at 21:50. ¥8300 one way from Tachikawa; ¥8900 one way from Omiya. Discount for round-trip purchase.
Premium Bus
  • Three Premium Dream buses run between Tokyo and Osaka. Buses depart from Tokyo Station (22:00 and 22:20, both via the Tomei) and Shinjuku Station (22:10 via the Chuo). Buses from Osaka Station depart for Tokyo Station (22:30 and 23:30, both via the Tomei) and Shinjuku Station (23:00 via the Chuo).
  • The Premium Ladies Dream is a special bus for women only. One daily departure from Tokyo (23:00) and Shinjuku (23:40) via the Tomei expressway. The return trip leaves Osaka at 22:00.

First floor ¥9900-10500 each way, second floor ¥8600-8800; ¥1000 discount for second floor seating if purchased 5 days in advance for most departures.

Other bus operators

Another bus provider on the Tokyo-Osaka route is Willer Express [5], which is recognizable by its pink-colored buses. An advantage over the JR Buses is that Willer Express offers bus descriptions and booking services in English. However, many services from this company do not allow you to carry large luggage (e.g. suitcases) with you. It is best to confirm with the company whether or not there will be space for luggage before making your booking. In addition, some services do not offer on-board toilets.

Kintetsu (Japanese website) and Hankyu (Japanese website) also operate buses between Osaka and Tokyo, as well as other major cities throughout Japan.

Nighttime Bus from Yamaguchi Prefecture

Bocho bus offers a nighttime bus from the cities of Hagi, Yamaguchi, Hofu, Tokuyama, and Iwakuni to Kobe and Osaka. It currently costs between ¥6300 and ¥9480 for a one way ticket, depending on where you get on and where you get off. The bus departs Hagi Bus Center at 7:55PM nightly, and arrives at Osaka station at 7:15AM daily. The bus makes a return trip from Osaka station at 10:05PM nightly, and arrives at Hagi bus center at 9:25AM daily. Full details including round trip fares are on the (Japanese Website). It is a good deal if you have time to spare.

By boat

Osaka International Ferry Terminal [6] is located at Nankō (南港) in the Osaka Bay Area. There are no banks, post office, shops, or restaurants in the terminal. The nearest subway station is Cosmosquare Station (C11), which is about a 15 minute walk from the terminal. A free shuttle bus is available at the station. Taxis are also available at the station.

Getting to the Ferry Terminal

  • From Suminoe-koen Station:, (Take the New Tram to Nankōguchi (南港口)).
  • From JR Shin-Osaka Station (ShinKansen Line):, (JR Shin-Osaka station →transfer to Subway Midosuji Line (Red Line) at Shin-Osaka station(M13) → Hommachi station (M18) → transfer to Subway Chuo Line (Green Line) → Cosmosquare station (C11)). Travel time: at least 40 minutes to Cosmosquare Station. ¥310.
  • From Namba:, (Subway Midosuji Line (Red Line) at Namba station(M20) → Hommachi station (M18) → transfer to Subway Chuo Line (Green Line) → Cosmosquare station (C11)). Travel time: at least 30 minutes to Cosmosquare Station. ¥270.
  • From Tennoji:, (Subway Midosuji Line (Red Line) at Tennoji station(M23) → Hommachi station (M18) → transfer to Subway Chuo Line (Green Line) → Cosmosquare station (C11)). Travel time: at least 40 minutes to Cosmosquare Station. ¥310.
  • By Taxi:, (Instruct the taxi driver to take you to the Osaka Port International Ferry Terminal (Nanko), otherwise you may be taken to the domestic ferry terminal.).
  • By Car:, (From Hanshin Expressway Tenpozan exit to Port of Osaka and after passing through Osakako-Sakishima Tunnel, turn left at the first crossing, and follow the road. You will arrive at Osaka Port International Ferry Terminal.). Toll road, ¥200/car.

Osaka-Busan

The PanStar Line [7] operates a ferry between Osaka and Busan. The ferry leaves daily (only Su, T-W, in Jan 2009 from Busan) at 3:10PM from both Osaka and Busan and arrives the following day at 10AM. In Busan, the luggage check-in time is prior to the passenger check-in time: for the Busan-Osaka run, luggage check in is 12:40PM-2PM and the passenger check in time is 2:15PM-2:45PM; for the Osaka-Busan run, luggage check in is 1PM-2PM and the passenger check in time is 1PM-2:30PM. Many different room options are available, including family rooms. Fares start at ₩125,000/¥17,000 and range through seven different room/suite classes culminating in a Presidential Suite, which is ₩2,000,000/¥250,000 per night. Tickets can be purchased online, but much of the website content is only available in Japanese and Korean, and may be difficult to navigate for English speakers. Tickets are easily obtainable through agents specializing in Korean or Japanese travel.

The ferry holds live musical performances, magic shows, and other entertainment on the run. Schedule varies.

You can take your car on the ferry, but there are documentation requirements, and you should check the website [8] for information. The cost for a single basic room and a car is ₩690,000. Room upgrades are available. Temporary insurance must be purchased at the port upon arrival in Osaka.

Osaka-Shanghai

Shanghai (China) twice weekly.

Get around

The glass and concrete skyscraper expanse of Nishi-Umeda (West-Umeda) in Kita Ward.

Kansai Travel Pass: Exploring Osaka & Kansai Region:

If you are planning to travel beyond city limits you might consider using the tickets from Surutto Kansai. For use in Osaka and other cities in the west of Japan, there are some other useful tickets:

  • A rechargeable smart card, ICOCA, can be used on rail, subway and bus networks in Kansai area, Okayama, Hiroshima, Nagoya (Kintetsu) and Tokyo (JR East). These cards are available at vending machines at these rail stations, and cost ¥2000, which includes a ¥500 deposit that will be refunded when the card is returned at JR West Station.
  • One of the best value for money pass is the 5 day consecutive unlimited Kintetsu Rail Pass valued at ¥3500[9] for travel within the Kansai region. Holders of this rail pass can get on & off any number of times within the 5 day consecutive period. The holder of this pass can decide on the start date to be activated. This is good for exploring the Kansai or Kinki region covering Kyoto, Nara Prefecture, Nagoya, Mie Prefecture. Tourists spots like Kyoto [10], Yoshino [11] in Nara Prefecture, Akame Shiju-hattaki Falls[12] & Ise-Jingu Shrine in Mie Prefecture [13], Mount Kongozan [14] in Osaka Prefecture are some of the destinations covered by this pass. The more expensive Kintetsu Rail Pass Wide [15] is valued at ¥6800. It is also valid for consecutive 5 days with only marginal value added services like the inclusive round trip access from Kansai Airport to Osaka's Uehommachi station and back to airport plus unlimited rides on Mie Kotsu buses in the Ise-Shima area and some discount vouchers. A comparison chart between the cheaper Kintetsu Rail Pass & the Kintestsu Rail Pass Wide is here [16]. Full list of Kintetsu rail map and sightseeing areas is available here [17]. The pass is available for purchase at Kansai International Airport at the arrival lobby from Kansai Airport Agency Travel Desk to be paid in cash only [18], access map of Kansai Airport Agency Travel Desk is here [19]. It is also available for purchase overseas.
  • The Osaka Unlimited Pass comes in two versions. The one-day pass (¥2000) offers unlimited use of trains (excluding JR trains) and buses in Osaka City and neighboring areas, as well as free admission to 24 popular sightseeing facilities as well as discounts at some more locations. The two-day version sets you off only ¥2700 but is restricted to subway and city bus lines. Both versions come with a handy little booklet with route suggestions, coupons and lots of information about all the sites. If you are planning to visit some of the more expensive sites included for free in the pass such as the Floating Observatory in Umeda which alone carries a price tag of ¥700, this ticket can actually pay off quite well. If you just want to get around Osaka a regular one-day pass for ¥850 might be better. It helps to plan beforehand where you want to go and see if you can actually save money or not. Don't underestimate the time it takes to get from one site to the next. For a couple of hundred yen more you can get an extended version of this pass which includes the train trip to Osaka and back from all the cities around.
  • The regular Osaka one-day pass (¥850/Children ¥430) lets you travel on all subways, buses and the New Tram and also gives you some discounts here and there.
  • A Multiple Ride Card is a stored-value card which lets you use the subway, buses and the New Tram without the hassle of buying separate tickets every time. For ¥3000 you get a card worth ¥3300.

By subway

Osaka Subway Map

The Osaka Subway here is Japan's second-most extensive subway network after Tokyo, which makes the underground the natural way to get around. The Midosuji Line is Osaka's main artery, linking up the massive train stations and shopping complexes of Shin-Osaka, Umeda, Shinsaibashi, Namba and Tennoji.

The signage, ticketing and operation of the Osaka subway is identical to its larger counterpart in Tokyo. Fares ¥200-350, depending on distance. Station arrivals are displayed and announced in both Japanese and English. Keep your ticket when you enter the train, it is required when you exit.

By train

True to its name, the JR Osaka Loop Line (環状線 Kanjō-sen) runs in a loop around Osaka. It's not quite as convenient or heavily-used as Tokyo's Yamanote Line, but it stops in Umeda and Tennoji, and by Osaka Castle. Namba and Universal Studios Japan are connected to the Loop Line by short spurs. Fares ¥120-250, depending on distance.

By bicycle

Many residents get around by bicycle, as the city is mostly flat and easily navigable by bike. Riding on the sidewalks is permitted and some sidewalks even have bike lanes marked. If nothing is marked, try to stay to the left where possible (but often you will simply need to find the best path through the pedestrians).

Rental bikes are available, but if you are staying longer than a few weeks, purchasing a used bike can be a good deal. Finding a used bike can be a bit tricky, however, particularly if you don't speak Japanese. Craigslist and some gaijin websites such as Gaijinpot.com have classified listings, and there are a few used bike shops around. Renge [20][21], near Osaka Castle, sells a range of used bikes starting at around ¥5500.

Technically you are required to register your bicycle with the police. Bike shops may help you with this process. If you do not rent a bike, make sure you do have your own; borrowed bikes (bikes registered under a name that is not the rider) are considered stolen bikes.

See

Umeda Sky Building in Shin-Umeda City, Kita.
  • Osaka Castle (大阪城 Osaka-jō), (The park can be accessed on a number of lines, but the castle is closest to Osaka-jō Koen station on the JR Osaka Loop Line.), [22]. 9AM-5PM daily, closed around New Years. Osaka's best known sight, although it's a concrete reconstruction that pales in comparison with, say, Himeji. Think of it as a museum built in the shape of a castle, rather than as an actual historical castle. Still, it's pretty enough from the outside, especially in the cherry blossom season when Osakans flock to the castle park to picnic and make merry. Naniwa Palace Site Park or Naniwanomiya can also be found south to Osaka Castle Park (although it's one of Japan's oldest habitats and palace sites, today it's little more than an empty grass field where the outlines of Naniwa's palace foundations from around 643 AD have been partly recreated in concrete). The grounds are free, and the castle costs adults ¥600, children free.
  • Osaka Science Museum (大阪市立科学館), (Walk from subway Higobashi Station or Yodoya-bashi Station, 500m and 900m to the west respectively.), [23]. Tu-Su 9:30AM-5PM, closed Dec 28-Jan 4, closed on public holidays. Big interactive activity center on several floors. Great for kids. Planetarium and cinema (with science films) downstairs. Adults ¥600, children ¥300.
  • Osaka Museum of History (大阪歴史博物館), 1-32 Otemae 4-Chome Chuo-ku (5 min walk from subway Tanimachi 4-chome Station; also accessible via Osaka Castle or from JR Osaka-jō Station), [24]. M-Th 9:30AM-5PM, F 9:30AM-8PM, closed Tuesday, or Wednesday of Tuesday is a holiday. An ideal place to learn all-abouts of Osaka's history. Enjoyable view over Osaka Castle and the OBP skyscrapers. ¥600.
  • Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル)[25]. 1-1-20 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku (10 min on foot from JR Osaka or Hankyu Umeda), Built in an attempt to upgrade Osaka's somewhat downbeat Kita district, the project wasn't quite the hoped-for commercial success but this bizarrely shaped 40-story, 173-meter building is still a city landmark. Take the escalator through midair to the rooftop observatory for an open-air view of Osaka, which is particularly impressive on a clear night. There is a lover's seat, where if you hold your partner's hand, and each hold a metal button on the seat, the ground around you lights up into a heart. You can purchase an engraved heart lock (1000 yen) and attached it to the padlock wall around the seat (padlocks only available after 7pm). Observatory admission ¥700, 10AM-10:30PM daily (entry until 10PM, varies by season). The basement features a recreation of a Meiji-era street, with a few small restaurants and bars in appropriate style. There is also a small store downstairs where you can purchase quality mochi on the cheap.
  • Sumiyoshi Shrine (住吉大社) is one of Japan's oldest Shinto shrines, with a history stretching back 1800 years. Its traditional architecture is unusual amongst Japan's shrines, and its park-like surroundings with the sacred bridge arching over a tranquil pond make it a restful break from the busy environment of Osaka. Free. Access is from the Nankai line station of the same name; local trains run from Namba station in central Osaka.
  • Shitennōji Temple (四天王寺), 1-1-18 Shitennōji Tennōji-ku (5 min walk from Shitennōji-mae-Yuhiga-oka Station on subway, or 15 min by walk to north from Tennōji Station), originally built by Emperor Suiko in 593 AD. Although the current buildings are mostly post WWII reconstructions, the temple is a rare sample which conveys the continental style (notably the positioning of the individual buildings inside the complex) of 6th - 7th century to present.
  • Japan Mint (造幣局) 1-1-79, Temma Kita-ku (15 min by walk from subway Temmabashi Station), [26]. It's not widely known even by people from elsewhere in the country that Japan Mint is actually headquartered in Osaka. For Osakans, Sakura-no-tōrinuke (桜の通り抜け, cherry blossom tunnel road) is a synonym for this facility, attracting a large number of visitors (close to 1 million in just 7 days) during a limited, planned week of mid-Apr. A must-see if you are fond of nature and happen to drop into Osaka in season. Admission free. Check for official announcement beforehand.
Tsūtenkaku
  • Tsūtenkaku (通天閣). While the original tower was built early 20th century, the current "newer" version is designed by the same Prof. Naitō, who also designed Tokyo Tower. This landmark built in the middle of Shinsekai (新世界) area is a symbol of reconstruction of the City of Osaka post WWII.
  • Open Air Museum of Old Farmhouses, Ryokuchi-koen, Ryokuchi station on the Midosuji subway line. Ryokuchi park itself is lovely, but one area is a museum of a dozen old Edo period farmhouses, moved across country and lovingly reconstructed. Also on display are tools, furniture, and the like. You can go to Himeji-jo or the old palace in Kyoto and see how the rulers lived; but come down here to see how the people lived. Thanks to the efforts of a volunteer from Australia, they have a great new English-language brochure to guide you. Admission ¥500.
  • Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (インスタントラーメン発明記念館 Instant Ramen Hatsumei Kinenkan), 8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi (20 min on Hankyu Takarazuka Line from Umeda to Ikeda Stn, then 5 min on foot), +81-72-752-3484, [27]. Wed-Mon 9:30AM–4 PM. A museum dedicated to the man who invented the daily staple of college students everywhere. The exhibits are of limited interest if you don't read Japanese, but they offer two interesting hands-on experiences. The "Chicken Ramen Workshop" (¥500, 90 min, reservations required) lets you make your own instant noodles from scratch, starting from kneading the dough and finishing by decorating the package. "My Cup Noodle Factory" (¥300, no reservations) lets you select your own Cup Noodle flavor, which is then manufactured for you, complete with your own hand-drawn cup design. Free.
  • Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum, 066-211-0393, [28]. 11AM-6PM. Closed M. (上方浮世絵館) A rather small museum in Nanba dedicated to ukiyoe, Japanese woodblock prints. The interior of the museum looks a bit like an adobe house. It may be most interesting to someone already familiar with the art, as the information inside mostly Japanese only. Entrance fee: ¥500.
  • Peace Osaka, 066-947-7208, [29]. 9:30AM-5PM. Closed M. A museum dedicated to the promotion of peace through displays of war. Because it is an Osaka museum, it features the affects of the bombings on Osaka in WWII. While this is of some interest, the exhibitions depicting the atrocities committed by Japan against China, Korea, and Southeast Asia are what make this museum truly worthwhile. There is also an exhibit with displays relating to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Exhibits have English explanations.
  • Maritime Museum, 2-5-20, Nanko-kita, Suminoe-ku (approximately 15 minutes walk from Cosmosquare Station - Chuo Line or New Tram Nanko Port Town Line), 06-4703-2900. Open: 10am-5pm. Closed on Mondays (or the following working day if Monday is a public holiday), year-end and new year holidays, and also periodically for maintenance. Built in the sea, near the shore (one has to walk through an undersea corridor from the ticket office area to the museum) around the real life size replica of a single mast ship from the Edo period. Entrance fee: ¥600.

Do

Skyline of downtown Umeda, City-Centre Osaka
  • IMAX Osaka is home to a large IMAX movie screen located in the Suntory Museum (next to Kaiyukan). English headphones are available for no extra cost. If you plan on going to Kaiyukan aquarium and IMAX, you can purchase a discount ticket for both at either ticket office.
  • Kaiyukan (Osakako, Chuo Line) [30] is one of the world's largest aquariums, with 11,000 tons of water and plenty of sharks (including a whale shark), dolphins, otters, seals, and other creatures of the sea. The largest tank, representing the Pacific Ocean with 5,400 tons is nothing but overwhelming. On the weekend, musicians and street performers offer additional entertainment to people outside the aquarium. ¥2000 (¥900 children).
  • Tenpozan Ferris Wheel, next to Kaiyukan at Tempozan (天保山) area. There is also the Suntory museum, a mall and a port for sightseeing boats. Open 10am to 10pm. Admission ¥700, children up to 3 free of charge. The mall has a wide variety of shops that cater to fashionistas, otaku, tourists or dog lovers, variably. The mall itself doubles as a kind of amusement park, along with the Ferris wheel, and the best deal is to catch the ferry from there to Universal Studios across the water.
  • Sumo Spring Grand Tournament (大相撲春場所), Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium (approx. 10 min walk from subway Namba Station) [31]. The Osaka Tournament of Japan's national sport, sumo wrestling, is usually held mid-March annually at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. Check for schedules and ticket availabilities at the official Nihon Sumo Kyokai homepage. Ticket prices range from ¥3000 to ¥14,300.
Universal Studios Japan
  • Universal Studios Japan, at Universal-City Station (JR Yumesaki Line, 10 min from Osaka), [32]. Japan's second-largest theme park. One-day tickets for adults/children ¥5800/3900. Expect much Japanese dubbing over your favorite characters and movies. (If you are coming here on a side trip from Tokyo Disney Resort, see that article's Get out section for information on how to get here and return to Tokyo that same day.)
  • Umeda Joypolis Sega, next to Umeda (Osaka) station, occupying 8th and 9th floors of the Hep Five building with arcades and a Ferris wheel at the top. 11AM-11PM; ¥500-¥600 attractions. Local laws prohibit kids being here after dark even in the company of their parents, so if you want to take the kids along, plan on going early. The HEP5 Ferris is okay though.
  • Spa World Just near Tsutenkaku Tower in Shinsakai, accessible from JR Shin-Imamiya station. Gender-separated European and Asian themed spas and saunas as well as a pool for the family with slides and fun (don't forget your swimming trunks). Open 24hrs so handy if stuck for accommodation or locked out of your hotel after a night on the town, just pay up, change into their cotton overalls and pass out on one of their comfy leather recliners with as many blankets as you like. Can try the outdoor onsen (try not to get burnt in the sun) or watch their huge TV in their bar with a cold beer. Gym also available to you as part of the entry free. Regular prices are ¥2400 for 3 hours, ¥2700 for all day [33]. Extra charge ¥1000 for stays midnight-5AM. "Rollover" for day passes is at 9 am on the dot. Watch out for the special ¥1000 deals offered from time to time, often in Mar. Well worth spending an afternoon chilling out here. It is important to note that individuals with tattoos, permanent or temporary, are barred from using the facilities.
  • National Bunraku Theater, Nippombashi, [34]. One of the last places in the world where bunraku, a form of intricate puppet theater from the Edo period, can be seen live. The large puppets, which require three operators each, are accompanied by traditional music and narration, and act out great Japanese plays of the 1600s and 1700s. Transcripts in Japanese and synopses in English are provided.
  • Osaka Siki musical theater, Umeda,in the Herbis ENT. Home of the Shiki Theatre Company.
  • The Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen museum, Ikeda, [35] approx. 30 minutes from Umeda on the Hankyu line. There are signs in Katakana pointing the way from the south exit. A homage to the universal Cup Noodle, with more flavors than could fill supermarket aisle. It features among other things, a statue of Momofuku Ando, the creator, standing atop a giant Cup Noodle holding an instant ramen packet aloft. Open until 4PM, admission free.
  • The festival hall in Nakanoshima, near Umeda, and the symphony hall in Umeda host modern and classical recitals, while Umeda Koma in Umeda, and Shin-Kabukiza in Uehommachi host Enka performances. For more independent or underground music, try Banana Hall in Umeda or Big Cat in Amerika-mura.
  • Zepp Osaka (POP clubs) , Nanko (Nanko_Kita 1-18-31,Suminoe_ku, near Cosmo-squair station. ).
  • Blue Note (Jazz clubs)[36] Umeda.The branch of Blue Note in N.Y..

Learn

Work

The occupation of most resident Americans, Europeans and Australians is teaching English (as is the case in most of Japan). In recent years, the economy in the Osaka region had been relatively stagnant compared to Tokyo's: although there are jobs in law, finance, accounting, engineering and other professional fields in Osaka, demand for foreign professionals tends to be higher in Tokyo (as is pay). Osaka does have several educational publishers that employ foreign workers, but these jobs require fluent Japanese language ability. Temporary work in a variety of industries is available.

Buy

  • Osaka's most famous shopping district is Shinsaibashi (心斎橋), which offers a mix of huge department stores, high-end Western designer stores, and independent boutiques ranging from very cheap to very expensive. Within Shinsaibashi, the Amerika-mura (アメリカ村, often shortened to "Amemura") or "American Village" area is particularly popular among young people, and is often said to be the source of most youth fashion trends in Japan. Near Amerika-mura,Horie (堀江) is shopping street of mainly Japanese brands shops. The many shops in Umeda are also popular among trendy locals, particularly in the Hep Five and Hep Navio buildings adjacent to Hankyu Umeda Station, although these shops tend to be too expensive to captivate most tourists' interest. In this area, new shopping buildings have been constructed recently. For example, the“E-ma” buildings next to Hanshin department store, and “Nu-Chayamachi” (Nu 茶屋町), opened in October 2005 near Hankyu Umeda station.
  • For electronics, the Nipponbashi (日本橋) area southeast of Namba, and particularly the "Den-Den Town" shopping street[38], was once regarded as the Akihabara of western Japan; nowadays, more people would rather shop at the new, enormous Yodobashi Camera (ヨドバシカメラ) in Umeda or BicCamera (ビックカメラ) and LABI1 in Namba, although Nippombashi still offers good deals on many gadgets, PC components and used/new industrial electronics.
  • For Japanese and foreign books, try Kinokuniya in Hankyu Umeda Station, or Junkudo south of Osaka Station.
    Tenjinbashi-suji
  • The Official Hanshin Tigers (baseball team) Shop is located on 8th floor of Hanshin Department Store at Umeda.
  • Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street (天神橋筋商店街 Tenjinbashi-suji Shōtengai) is said to be the longest straight and covered shopping arcade in Japan at approx. 2.6km length. The arcade is running north-south along Tenjinbashi-suji street, and is accessible from multiple subway and/or JR stations, eg. Tenma, Minami-Morimachi, Tenjinbashi-suji 6-chome, etc. Nothing meant for sightseeing, the arcade is a live exhibition of Osaka's daily life, open since Edo period.

Eat

Okonomiyaki - The DIY Food

Okonomiyaki Osaka style is usually do-it-yourself food at smaller, independent specialized restaurants. Tables are equipped with embedded hot plates and you'll receive a bowl of ingredients, which you are expected to cook on your own. However, in larger franchised chains the staff can often cook for you — and even in smaller places staff will usually gladly help if asked.

Should you decide to try your luck on your own, you might want to dress for the occasion: pork slices, the most common topping, are usually very fatty and tend to splatter grease all over the place. Try Modernyaki which is an Okonomiyaki with Soba on top, or go fried egg on top of the pancake.


Even in a nation of obsessive gourmands Osaka is known as an excellent place to eat, exemplified by the Osakan maxim kuidaore, "eat yourself into ruin". The best place for trying out kuidaore is probably Dōtonbori (道頓堀) and neighboring Hōzenji-yokochō (法善寺横町) or Soemon-cho (宗右衛門町), the whole area containing nearly nothing but one restaurant after another.

Some typically Osakan foods worth trying include:

  • Battera (バッテラ), is a block type sushi, with mackerel put on rice and squeezed very hard in a wooden box, cut into pieces when served. Battera sushi is a variant and direct descendant of primitive sushi, this one from Osaka is unique for its squarelike shape. Available not only in sushi restaurants but also as take-away in department stores and train stations.
  • Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), fried cabbage cakes that resemble a cross between a pancake, pizza, and omelette.
  • Takoyaki (たこ焼き), bits of octopus inside fried dumplings.
  • Kushikatsu (串かつ), skewers with various sorts of food (meat, vegetables, cheese, etc.) deep-fried in dough and served with a black sauce.

Okonomiyaki is best eaten in hole-in-the-wall restaurants, while takoyaki is best eaten from street vendors' carts, which can be found all over the major districts around nightfall. The best place to find kushiage is in Shinsekai, between Dobutsuen-mae and Ebisucho stations on the Sakaisuji subway line.


Budget

  • Snack Park (スナックパーク), Hanshin department store (Umeda), B2 Floor [39]. Offers okonomiyaki, takoyaki and a few surprises like doteyaki (どて焼き) - stewed sinew of beef. It's open from 10 a.m to 8:30 p.m.
  • Tsuruhashi Fūgetsu (鶴橋風月), Hankyu Grand Building 29F (next to Hankyu Umeda station), [40]. Good okonomiyaki as well yakisoba, with extra toppings (egg, cheese, etc.), all for a cheap price of ¥700-800, plus English menu and a nice view overlooking Umeda. Perfect!
  • Tako Tako King, north side of Dotonbori river and west of Midosuji. The best takoyaki in Osaka and the same goes for service too! A friendly staff that never take off their smiles, good prices, good food, good drinks, and a whole lot of fun, make this a great place to start off a night in the Shinsaibashi area. Look for the big red octopus wearing a crown.

Mid-range

  • Axum, Marusei Building 5F, [41]. For those expats living in Japan who are a little tired of Japanese food, you can check out the only Ethiopian restaurant in the Kansai region. Found in Shinsaibashi, this small restaurant offers personal service, African beer, and plenty of Injera. While the dishes are pricier than one might expect, the food is tasty and with a nice bit of spice compared to the average Japanese fare.
  • Aruna (アルナ) is a reasonably easy-to-find and vegetarian-friendly Indian restaurant in Umeda. From Hankyu Umeda station, exit as if you were going to go to the Hep 5 building (you can't miss it, due to the gigantic red Ferris wheel on top) but instead of going into Hep 5, go down the pedestrianised road on its left. Just after a small crossing is a bar "Side Trip", next to that is a food place with three dancing leeks as its logo, and next to that is Aruna. Set meals from ¥1554, curries from ¥1050, beers from ¥525. Mina, the proprietress, speaks excellent English. No vegetarian version of the ¥1554 curry set is listed on the menu, but they are happy to make it for you if you ask.
  • Winnipeg Cafe (ウイニペグカフェ)is a standard kissaten coffee and snack restaurant directly across from the north entrance to Sumiyoshi Shrine. The prices look a little steep but the portions, especially on the coffee and specialty drinks are larger than your standard Japanese kissaten. The cakes and sandwiches are fantastic and the view, looking at the Shrine park from your seat, can`t be beat. The tenchou is really friendly although, despite the name, there is no English ability or Canada connection. Daily 11:30AM-11PM (shorter evening hours on Su).

Splurge

  • Harijyu (はり重) 1-9-17 Dōtonbori Chuō-ku, 06-6211-7777 11:30AM-9:30PM Closed on T except Dec [42] (partly English), Shabu-shabu or sukiyaki in Japanese tatami rooms. No reservations are taken except for large groups, so arrive early at nights (6PM or so) to be sure you get a room without waiting. Expensive, but not astronomical thanks to their direct involvement in butcher's. (Butcher's on ground floor, take-out obentō boxes are available.) ¥6300+ Credit cards accepted.
  • Kani Dōraku (かに道楽), 1-6-18 Dōtonbori Chuō-ku, [43]. Now a nationwide chain, but this is the original. Easily identifiable by the giant mechanical crab waving its pincers about, and as you might guess, the speciality here is crab. Good but moderately expensive, figure on ¥4000-5000 per person for a set meal.
  • Mimyu (美々卯) 4-6-18 Hirano-machi 06-6231-5770 11:30AM-10PM Closed Su. This inventor of udonsuki has turned the otherwise popular and affordable udon into a luxury hotpot (nabe) dish, served in its corporate secret soup. Shabu-shabu available, too. ¥5800+ for dinner.

Drink

  • Bar Kama Sutra, (East Shinsaibashi 東心斎橋, a few meters from Cinque Cento on 5F of Jumbo Bldg), (). 9PM-morning daily. Small cozy karaoke bar is almost impossible to find but well worth the effort. Foreign and English-speaking Japanese staff, and over 130,000 songs to choose from. The owner, Richard, is a long term resident of Japan and is a wealth of information on what to do and see in the area, where to stay and even where to find work. (No "u" in e-mail address is correct, or: richosaka@gmail.com) No cover, ¥600 drinks.
  • Blarney Stone, (), [44]. This pair of Irish pubs have a laid-back atmosphere, friendly staff, and a decent happy hour.
  • Blarney Stone Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, Higashi Shinsaibashi 2-5-27, Kohda Bldg. B1, 06-6484-2220.
  • Blarney Stone Umeda, Kita-ku, Sonezaki 2-10-15, Sonezaki Center Bldg. 6F, 06-6364-0057.
  • Common Style, 1-2-2 Nakazaki-nishi, Kita-ku, [45]. A cafe where foreigners can exchange information with Japanese about what interests them.
  • Hub. This British pub, on Midosuji in Shinsaibashi, serves as a meeting place for many local expats as well as Japanese locals.
  • Lupu, 1F, Kansai-Chuo Bldg, 15-2 Doyama-cho, +81 066-311-6700, [46]. A gay and lesbian bar owned by a lesbian couple. No cover.
  • Physique Pride, 8-23 Sanyo-Kaikan 1-F Doyama-cho, +81 066-361-2430, [47]. One of Osaka's most popular gay and lesbian bars among foreigners.
  • Try Amemura area - There you will find all kind of bars with different genre from hip-hop to reggae.

Nightclubs

  • Cafe de Jumpin' Jumpin', 066-363-3367, [48]. 7PM-morning. One of Osaka's gay and lesbian bars. No Cover Charge.
  • Clube Joule, 2-11-30 Nishi-shinsaibashi (next to Sankaku (Triangle) Park in America Mura), [49]. Packed with trance lovers.
  • Club Pure, Chuo-ku, Soemon-cho 2-3-12 Diamond Bldg B1F, +81 06-2536-6278 (), [50]. 10PM-5AM. Extremely crowded dance club. The crowd is around 25-30% international. Be sure to bring your passport, as the ID check here is atypically rigorous. The closest subway station is Namba Station, which is about 5-10 min walk. Cover ¥4000 men, ¥2500 women; includes unlimited drinks but don't lose your cup.
  • Jack in the Box, 12-12 Doyama-cho, 066-361-3271, [51]. 9PM-5AM, Closed Th. A men only gay nightclub.
  • Sam and Dave, [52]. Popular international dance club with a meat-market vibe. Three locations in Osaka:
    • Sam and Dave Shinsaibashi, 1-3-29 4F Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, +81 06-6243-6848.
    • Sam and Dave Umeda, 4-15-19 1F Nishi-tenma, Kita-ku, +81 06 6365 1688.

Sleep

Budget

Backpackers have recently begun to use budget hotels around the JR Shin-Imamiya (新今宮) and subway Midosuji Line Dōbutsuen-mae (動物園前) stations, located in the southern part of the city center. Room quality varies widely and prices vary from ¥800-3000+, but there are many options: see the Osaka International Guesthouse Area [53] for the full list of foreigner-friendly establishments. The area is rather poor and there are many homeless that wander about during the day, but generally they are harmless and safety is not an issue. One benefit of the district being so poor is that prices at the supermarkets and such are generally very low. However, as always use common sense when traveling in unfamiliar areas.

  • Bonsaiguesthouse, 1-4-13 Momodani Ikunoku Osaka city, 06-7492-8884 (), [54]. Our Bonsai guesthouse opened just in April 2010.Easy to access from anywhere.About 100 steps of on foot(1 minute walk)from Osaka loopLine 'Momodani Station'. It is very convenient hostel for sightseeing (Kyoto, Nara, and Himeji) using JR because it is very close to the station. The shopping street and Korean Town in Osaka where vigor overflows are located in Momodani that is the attraction is fully loaded. Dormitory ¥2500 per person, private rooms from¥2800 per person.
  • Guest House Koma, 2-3-12 Saiwai-cho Naniwa-ku Osaka, 06-6567-5000 (), [55]. Budget hostel one station away (walking distance) from the central Namba area. Staff are very knowledgeable and helpful, though the common area can get cold. Has female-only dorms. Dormitory ¥2500 per person, private rooms available.
  • CarpeDiem Inn, [56]. Traditional-style house and garden within walking distance of the Shiroyama Temple. Dormitory ¥3500 per person, private rooms ¥10000 for 2 persons.
  • Guest House U-en (由苑), 1-5-8 Uemachi, Chuo-ku, [57]. Walking distance of Osaka castle. The ground floor of this building was once a printing factory, and the upper level was a family home. Travelers will enjoy the traditional atmosphere at this rustic Japanese home. Just 5 min to Minami(Shinsaibashi)area. Dormitory ¥2300-2500, private rooms ¥5500-6500.
  • Hotel Chuo, 1-1-12 Taishi Nishinari-ku Osaka-shi; Hotel Chuo New Annex 1-1-11 Taishi, Nishinari-Ku, +81 06-6647-4891, [58]. Close to Shin Imamiya (JR Loop Line) and Dobutsuen-mae Stations. Western and Japanese style rooms available. Rooms are simple, but clean. Shared bathroom facilities. Fridges and TV in most rooms. Free tea and coffee in the mornings. No communal kitchen, but microwave and boiling water available in lobby. Free internet in room and lobby. No curfew. Annex is next door, featuring two showers on the ground floor, one for men and one for women. Credit cards are accepted. Wireless internet in rooms. Three internet connected computers in the lobby, along with connection points for laptops. Free tea and coffee in the mornings. No communal kitchen, but microwave and boiling water available in lobby. Free internet in room and lobby. No curfew. Singles ¥2600-¥3200, twins ¥5200-¥7000.
  • Hotel Mikado, 1-2-11 Taishi Nishinari-ku, [59]. Internet, sauna. Single ¥2300, Twin ¥4600.
  • Hotel Taiyo, 23-2-1 Taishi Nishinari-ku, [60]. In front of the Dobustuen-mae JR subway entrance. Free internet available in the lobby and nice rooms with a clean futon, TV, & fridge. Friendly staff at reception with minimal English and beer vending machine. Communal toilets and washroom with bath, sometimes can see Yakuza members in the washroom with their irizumi (tattoos)! Single ¥2100, twin ¥3100.
  • Hotel Toyo, [61]. There are some poor Japanese who seem to use this place as a de facto apartment, though that is a testament to the low price and convenience of the hotel. Individual room contains futon, fan/heater or AC, TV. There is a shower room on the first floor or you can use the public bath of the neighboring Hotel Taiyo for free. Internet is available in the small lounge for free, and free WiFi is available on every floor. Single ¥1500, w/out AC, ¥1700 with AC. ¥1000 discount for 10+ days.
  • J-Hoppers Osaka Central, (Post-code 553-0003) 4-22, Fukushima 7chome, Fukushima-ku (3 min walk from Fukushima Station on JR Loop line), +81 06-6453-6669, [62]. checkin: 3PM-10PM; checkout: 8AM-11AM. A lively backpackers hostel located in the central Osaka. Here could be an extensive travel links to everywhere and be a starting point for all sightseeing places not only Osaka but also Nara, Kobe, Wakayama. Three kinds of private rooms (twin, double and triple room). All staff members speak English and will help guests making travel plans. We also have a French and German speaking staff. Free wifi with your laptop or ¥100 per 30 min for hostel computers. Rental bikes (¥500 per day), with no curfew or lockout and held-luggage services. 8 or 6 bed dorm ¥2500, private rooms ¥3000 per person.

Note that Hotel Adnis, a love hotel known for its infamous Hello Kitty bondage room, is now closed.

If you are arriving by Shinkansen, there is a very clean, modern, and friendly Youth Hostel available relatively cheap about a block away from the east exit of the Shin-Osaka station. * Shin-Osaka Youth Hostel [63] ¥3300/person, dormitory style.

Capsule hotels

  • Asahiplaza Shinsaibashi, 2-12-22 Nishi-shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku (at Amerikamura), +81 06-6213-1991 (fax: +81 06-6212-0954), [64]. Sauna available, and there is a separate area for women. ¥2800 (or ¥3100 with dinner included).
  • Capsule Inn Osaka, 9-5 Doyamamachi, Kita-ku (in the Higashi-Hankyu shopping arcade off Umeda station), +81 06-6314-2100 (fax: +81 06-6363-3014), [65]. This is Japan's first capsule hotel, designed by noted architect Kisho Kurokawa and opened in 1979. Still open for business, happy to accommodate male foreigners with some semblance of a clue and a steal of a price. No women allowed. ¥2700 for a night (or ¥3300 with entry to the spa).
Asahiplaza Shinsaibashi Capsules
  • Daitoyo, 2-1-9 Nakazaki-Nishi, Kita-ku (Near Nakazaki-cho station, Tanimachi-Line subway). Near Umeda, with branches at Namba and Juso. It has a hot spring spa, sauna, and a floor for women. ¥3200.

Business hotels

The usual suspects tend to be situated within a 5-10 minute walk north to north-west of JR Namba (a few blocks past the love hotel district). The big advantage here is that this district is also roughly a 10 minute stroll from Dotonbori. Thus, for the light traveller, a cost effective way to stay in a nice hotel is to simply enjoy the food and atmosphere along the canal until midnight, then take advantage of the various after midnight check-in discounts (typically about 30% off the regular night rate). For example the Tokoyo Inn reduces its single room prices from ~¥6500 to a clean ¥4500, and the Dormy Inn from a regular ¥7000 fee down to ¥4900.

  • Business Hotel OK, 1-10-11 Juso-higashi Yodogawa-ku (3 min from Juso station, Hankyu line), +81 06-6305-5021. Single ¥4500.
  • Esaka Central Hotel, 1-22-30 Esaka Suita-shi (2 min from Esaka station, Midosuji-line subway). Single ¥4500.
  • Hotel 1-2-3 Tennoji, 2-3-14, Terada-cho, Tennoji-ku (Access is from JR Osaka Loop Line, Terada Sta. (North Exit) 3 min on foot), +81 6-6770-2345 (fax: +81 6-6770-2333). All rates inclusive of tax and free breakfast. Also has another Osaka branch called Hotel 1-2-3 Senba within walking distance to Shinsaibashi subway station at a higher rate. Single ¥5,145, twin ¥6195 per room.

Budget apartments

  • Azu-Garden Nippombashi (アズガーデン日本橋), 1-6 Soemon-cho, Chuo-ku (Subway Exit #2 of Nippombashi Subway along the Sennichimae line, one stop from Namba station), +81 06-6212-1120 (fax: +81 06-6212-1160), [66]. Online reservation site in English here but you may or may not get a response. If no response, try an online booking agent. Single ¥4,200, double ¥9030, twin ¥9,030 per apartment. All rates inclusive of taxes.
  • Kaneyoshi Ryokan (かねよし旅館), 3-12 Soemon-cho, Chuo-ku (Subway Exit #2 of Nippombashi Subway along the Sennichimae line, 1 stop from Namba station), +81 6-6211-6337 (fax: +81 6-6213-0843), [67]. This modern Ryokan is conveniently located in the heart of downtown. Comfortable Ryokan on the riverside of Dotombori and very close to the Osaka shopping quarter. English website has an online reservation system.
  • Sunplaza Rinkai (サンプラザ臨海), 16-4-4 Toyosaki Kita-ku (Subway Exit 1 from Nakatsu Station (中津駅) on the Midosuji line, 1 stop from Umeda Station and 2 stops away from Shinosaka Station), +81 06-6377-9260 (fax: +81 06-6377-0650), [68]. Website is in Japanese. The English site can be obtained through an online booking agent if you Google its full name and if vacancies are available an immediate confirmation will be given. Twins beds available. Each apartment has in-suite shower and toilet, A/C, TV, and a kitchenette complete with fridge, stove and cooking utensils. ¥3500 per person per apartment inclusive of taxes, service charges and utilities.
  • Weekly Green in Namba (ウィークリーグリーンINナンバ ようこそ), 2-7-23 Shikitsu-Nishi Naniwa-Ku (Subway Exit #2 of Daikokucho Station on the Midosuji line, one stop from Namba station), +81 6-6647-3719 (fax: +81 6-6647-5837), [69]. English website has an online reservation system. It claims to have English speaking staff on its website so you may attempt an online reservation. If no response, try an online booking agent. Each apartment equipped with in-suite shower and toilet, kitchenette, fridge, portable cooking stove, A/C, TV and telephone. Single ¥4200, twin ¥9450, triple ¥14490, quad ¥18900 per apartment. All rates inclusive of service charge & consumption tax.
  • Yamatoya Honten (大和屋本店), 2-17-4 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku, +81 6-6211-3587 (fax: +81 6-6212-1553), [70]. Is eyes and noses ahead to Dotombori, the place that represents Osaka, and near Shinsaibashi and Nihonbash. English website has an online reservation system [71]. Meals are Japanese style. ¥5775 per person per apartment inclusive of taxes, service charges and utilities.

Mid-range

  • Chisun Hotel Shin-Osaka, 6-2-19 Nishi-Nakajima, Yodogawa-ku (10-min walk S from Shin-Osaka station - walk towards the Washington Plaza hotel and cross under the 423 highway), +81 06-6302-5571 (fax: +81 06-6305-0083), [72]. Small, clean rooms and a bit of a hike to the bullet train station, but unbeatable for the price. Some staff speak English. Some rates include buffet breakfast in the hotel's restaurant (¥1100 separately). Family Mart and Lawson convenience stores are a half-block away, while a 7-Eleven with international ATM access is located on the way from Shin-Osaka station. Web site lists singles starting from ¥8300, though cheaper rates might be found when searching for availability.
  • Comfort Inn Shinsaibashi, 1-15, Higashi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku (10-min walk from Shinsaibashi station on the Midosuji subway line), +81 6-6258-3111 (fax: +81 6-6258-3121), [73]. 2 blocks east of Shinsaibashi's central covered shopping arcade, this hotel is a little better than the average business hotel, with clean rooms, English-speaking staff, and a complimentary yet generous breakfast buffet. Singles start at ¥6500.
  • Il Cuore, 1-15-15, Namba-Naka, Naniwa-ku (Less than 5 minutes walk from Namba or Kintetsu-Namba stations), +81 6-6647-1900 (, fax: +81 6-6647-1905), [74]. This is a slightly nicer business hotel with larger than average rooms. The hotel provides English language instructions for laundry machines and other hotel services. Breakfast an additional ¥ 1,000. Single ¥9,000 with a double bed for one or two guests.
  • Park Hotel Rinkai, Nishi-ku, Utsubo Honmachi 1-19-16 (Near Honmachi Station, Exit 28 from the Yotsubashi line, walk E for 5 min), +81 06-6444-0809 (, fax: +81 06-6444-4199), [75]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: 10AM. A business hotel located in the center of the business district. Near Honmachi station offering access to 3 subway lines. Unfortunately, most of the staff can't speak English. ¥6000 single, ¥10,000 twin.
  • Yamatoya Honten, 2-17-4 Shimanouchi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-city, Osaka 542-0082 (3 min. walk from exit #6 at Subway Kintetsu Nipponbashi.), +81-6-6211-3587 (fax: +81-6-6212-1553), [76]. checkin: 3:00p.m.; checkout: 10:00a.m.. A Japanese style hotel located in Dotonbori. There are staffs who can speak English. 4,725 yen -.
  • Best Western Hotel Fino Osaka Shinsaibashi, 1-2-19 Shinsaibashi Chuo-Ku, Osaka, 542 0083 (1 minute walk from Exit 5A at Nagahoribashi Station), +81 6 6243 4055 (fax: +81 6 6243 4059). checkin: 3:00p.m.; checkout: 10:00a.m.. A newly opened (July 1, 2010) hotel that is located only about 5 minutes walking distance from the Shinsaibashi shopping area. Some staff spoke good English. The rooms were very small, but very clean since it is a new hotel.

Splurge

  • Hilton Osaka, 1-8-8, Umeda, Kita-ku, +81 6-6347-7111 (fax: +81 6-6347-7001), [77]. checkin: 2PM; checkout: noon. Across the street from JR Osaka station.
  • Hotel Nikko Osaka, 1-3-3, Nishi-Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, +81 6-6244-1111 (fax: +81 6-6245-2432), [78]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: noon. Huge Landmark Hotel smack in the middle of Shinsaibashi along tree lined Mido-suji Avenue. Rooms are comfortable and have amazing views at night as hotel is the tallest building in the immediate area. Attached to Shinsaibashi train station and close to Amerika-mura, shopping, and night-life.
  • Hyatt Regency Osaka, 1-13-11 Nanko-Kita, Suminoe-Ku (in Osaka's new business district), +81 6-6612-1234 (), [79]. A hotel opposite the World Trade Center and one of the higher end hotels in the area. This hotel is an official hotel for the Universal Studios Japan and one of the most expensive hotels in the city. A bit far away from the city center with no direct subway line. Houses a chapel on its grounds too. Some airline crews use this one.
  • Imperial Hotel, 8-50, Temmabashi 1-chome, Kita-ku, +81 6-6881-1111 (fax: +81 6-6881-4111), [80]. At riverside.
  • Hotel New Otani Osaka, 1-4-1 Shiromi, Chuo-ku, +81 6-6941-1111 (), [81]. A luxury business hotel in Osaka, Japan offering accommodations, 13 restaurants and bars, vacation packages and meeting rooms. This five star hotel is in the Osaka Business Park near Osaka Castle.
  • Rihga Royal Hotel, 5-3-68, Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, [82]. Opened as the New Osaka Hotel in 1935, this landmark hotel proudly offers one of the best hotel services in town.
  • Ritz-Carlton, 2-5-25 Umeda, Kita-ku (just down the street from the Sakurabashi exit of Osaka Station, behind the Central Post Office), +81 6-6343-7000 (, fax: +81 6-6343-7001), [83]. checkin: 3PM; checkout: 11AM. Japan's first. This particular outlet was voted the best hotel in Japan several times, and has become known as one of the city's swankiest dining and meeting points. Rates start around ¥30,000 a night and rise skyward from there.
  • Swissôtel Nankai, 5-1-60, Namba,Chuo-ku, +81 6-6646-1111 (, fax: +81 6-6648-0331), [84]. Next to Namba train and bus stations.
  • The Westin Osaka, 1-1-20 Oyodo Naka, Kita-ku, +81 6-6440-1111 (, fax: +81 6-6440-1100), [85]. Next to the Umeda Sky Building.

Contact

  • Opti Café is a surprisingly cheap internet café in Umeda. ¥100/30min. Yodobashi Camera department store's groundfloor, next to Excelsior Café. You are requested to register for membership but it doesn't cost anything.
  • Y-net Cafe, Labi 1 Namba GF, Nambanaka 2-11-35, Naniwa-ku. First hour of use is free and no registration needed.

Cope

Consulates

  • As-flag.png Australia, MID Tower Twin 21 29F, 2-1-61, Shiromi, Chuo-ku, +81 066-941-9271.
  • Ch-flag.png China, 3-9-2, Utsubohommachi, Nishi-ku, +81 066-445-9481.
  • Fr-flag.png France, Crystal Tower 10F, 1-2-27, Shiromi, Chuo-ku, +81 064-790-1500, [86].
  • Gm-flag.png Germany, Umeda Sky Bldg, Tower East, 35F, 1-1-88-3501, Oyodonaka, Kita-ku, +81 066-440-5070, [87].
  • Ks-flag.png Republic of Korea, Korean Center Bldg, 2-3-4, Nishi Shinsaibashi, Chuo-ku, +81 066-211-4092, [88].
  • Nl-flag.png Netherlands, Twin 21 MID Tower 33F, 2-1-61, Shiromi, Chuo-ku, +81 066-944-7272, [89].
  • Rp-flag.png Philippines, 101 Uchiawajicho Advan City, 2-3-7, Uchiawaji-cho, Chuo-ku, +81 066-910-8962, [90].
  • Ru-flag.png Russia, 1-2-2, Nishimidorigaoka, Toyonaka City, +81 066-848-3451.
  • Sn-flag.png Singapore, Osaka Kokusai Bldg 14F, 2-3-13, Azuchi-machi, Chuo-ku, +81 066-262-2662, [91].
  • Th-flag.png Thailand, Konoike East Bldg 4F, 3-6-9, Kitakyuhoji-machi, Chuo-ku, +81 066-243-5563, [92].
  • Uk-flag.png United Kingdom, Seiko Osaka Bldg 19F, 3-5-1, Bakuromachi, Chuo-ku, +81 066-281-1616, [93].
  • Us-flag.png United States, 2-11-5, Nishitemma, Kita-ku, +81 066-315-5900 (After hours emergency +81 03-3224-5000, ), [94].

Stay safe

Osaka has a dangerous reputation (by Japanese standards), but is still remarkably safe for a city of its size, and the overall level of crime is as low as in Tokyo or other Japanese cities. However, some areas, particularly Shinsekai and Tobita, may be a little dodgy at night and the Airin/Kamagasaki area — Japan's largest slum, home to a lot of jobless and/or homeless people — south of Shin-Imamiya is best avoided at most times, especially after dark.

Incidentally, despite the movie stereotype of gangsters speaking in Osakan dialect, the actual base of Japan's biggest yakuza families is neighboring Kobe — and the most gang violence occurs in Tokyo. Unless you're dealing drugs, you're unlikely to get involved with the local mafia.

Get out

  • Its location makes Osaka a perfect base for doing one-day trips to nearby cities like Kyoto (30 minutes), Kobe (20 minutes), Nara (40 minutes) or Himeji (1 hour). (Typical times shown on JR Trains available without extra express charges starting from Osaka Station.)
  • The Expo Park in Suita, the huge commemorial park of the Japan World Expo '70, with its interesting Japanese Garden and Museum of National Ethnology.
  • Hirakata - Home to the child-friendly Hirakata Park and Kansai Gaidai University.
  • Church of light (茨木春日丘教会 Ibaraki Kasuga-oka Kyoukai)(Ibaraki), one of the masterpiece architecture by Tadao Ando.
  • Minō Koen (Minō), a popular maple watching spot in autumn.
  • The temples and lush greenery of Mount Koya, 90 minutes away by train, are an entirely different world and the perfect getaway when all the concrete starts to get to you.
  • Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the world's longest single-span suspension bridge is located near Kobe, about 40 minutes away by train.
  • Tokimeki Beach is a good get away if you want to spend the day at the seaside. Take the Nankia line

from Namba station to Tannowa Station. The trip costs around 720 Yen and takes about 45 minutes. The bag and shower service closes at 5 p.m.

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