Japan by Prefecture: Osaka

Japan by Prefecture: Tokyo Metropolis

Osaka Prefecture (大阪府; Osaka-fu) is part of the Kansai Region (関西地方; Kansai-chiho) on Honshu, the main island of Japan. Despite being one of the smallest prefectures area-wise, it boasts an impressive amount of cities. Thirty-three to be exact; with the most famous being it’s capital city of the same name– Osaka.

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  • Daitō
  • Fujiidera
  • Habikino
  • Hannan
  • Higashiōsaka
  • Hirakata
  • Ibaraki
  • Ikeda
  • Izumi
  • Izumiōtsu
  • Izumisano
  • Kadoma
  • Kaizuka
  • Kashiwara
  • Katano
  • Kawachinagano
  • Kishiwada
[/tie_list] [/one_half][one_half_last] [tie_list type=”starlist”]
  • Matsubara
  • Minoh
  • Moriguchi
  • Neyagawa
  • Osaka City
  • Ōsakasayama
  • Sakai
  • Sennan
  • Settsu
  • Shijōnawate
  • Suita
  • Takaishi
  • Takatsuki
  • Tondabayashi
  • Toyonaka
  • Yao
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osaka

Osaka is a city near and dear to me as I lived only 20 minutes away and visited frequently on the weekends. After Tokyo, it’s the second largest city in Japan with 24 wards.

Filled with diverse neighborhoods and a vibrant street culture, Osaka is a bit edgier than it’s sister Tokyo. And unlike other cities in Japan, Osaka is a bit grimy, loud and some might even say rude. People here even speak a different dialect, called Osaka-ben, which is known for being harsher sounding than standard Japanese.

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Did you know?

Osaka Prefecture holds what may be the closest thing to a dangerous neighborhood, or ghetto, in Japan.

>>>Read more about Shinsekai

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Osaka rivals Tokyo in many ways, especially in terms of fashion and pop culture.

Whereas Tokyo has otaku paradise Akihabara, Osaka has its Den Den Town. And if you think Harajuku is the end-all-be-all of Japanese street fashion, well, then you haven’t been to Osaka’s Amerika-mura yet.

Osaka - 2011

If there’s one area where Osaka out rivals Tokyo, it’s with food.

Nicknamed “Japan’s Kitchen” (天下の台所 tenka no daidokoro), Osaka is a place where you could literally gorge yourself on food.

What to Eat

 

Osaka is very proud of their food culture, but their food does tend to be on the heavier, deep-fried (more delicious) side. Because of this, I suggest you act like a local and embrace the concept of hashigo.

Hashigo is almost what we would call bar-hopping, minus the staggering drunk part. I assure you there’s still drinking, as alcohol culture is also huge in Japan, but it’s more about going from place to place, trying little bites of things and enjoying yourself.

But if you’re going to eat anything in Osaka, you at least have to try the two most popular regional specialties:

  • Okonomiyaki (お好み焼き), a savory pancake of sorts
  • Takoyaki (たこ焼き), fried octopus balls.

Osaka - 2011  Kobe - 2011

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Article’s Featuring Osaka Prefecture

[tie_slideshow] [tie_slide] The Top 10 Things to do in Osaka
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3 Days of Hiking and Biking the Best of Kansai
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Dotonbori Street: The Symbol of Osaka
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What to See & Do

 

Osaka hold many festivals and events throughout the year, but it’s most popular is the Tenjin-matsuri. This is one of Japan’s most famous festivals, held on July 24th and 25th each year.

>>>If you’re planning to visit Osaka this time of year, make sure to book everything well in advance. 

For those not visiting during this busy time, fear not! Osaka Prefecture has great attractions for visitors year-round. Some of the ones you won’t want to miss include: Osaka Castle, Umeda Sky Building, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, Universal Studios Japan, and Dotonbori.

[one_half]Osaka - 2011[/one_half][one_half_last]Osaka - 2011Osaka - 2011[/one_half_last]

 

If there’s one place you absolutely HAVE to visit while in Osaka Prefecture, it’s Dotonbori. It’s basically the beating heart of the city.

Dotonbori is where you’ll find all the best food, shops and fun. Nestled along the canal of the Umezu river, this area has been popular since the 1600s.

While it was a red light district in its previous life, today Dotonbori is completely family friendly during the day. At night however, this area still knows how to entertain.

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Make sure to check out all the colorful, brash advertisements everywhere. The canal is lined with neon advertisements, including the most famous Glico Olympic runner, built in 1935. Wander along the streets and you’ll find plenty of fun advertisements showcasing all of the area’s great food.

One you’ll want to watch out for in particular is the Kani Doraku crab. This 21-foot crab, which moves by the way, was built in 1960, making it way ahead of its time. It’s still one of the most famous landmarks in Dotonbori today.

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How to get there:

From Tokyo (Tokyo Station):
 Take JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line for 2 hours and 30 minutes from Tokyo Station to Shin-Osaka Station. Next hop on the subway  from Shin-Osaka Station to Namba Station.

From Osaka: 10 min. walk North from Namba Station on Subway Midosuji Line or Subway Sennichimae Line

5 min. walk North from Hanshin Osaka-Namba Station

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Osaka - 2011

Osaka - 2011

Osaka - 2011  Osaka - 2011

[box type=”shadow” align=”aligncenter” class=”” width=”600″]Another reason I ❤ Osaka? Two of its sister cities are Chicago and San Francisco– my two favorite US cities![/box]

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Osaka Prefecture Omiyage

 

Osaka - 2011  Osaka - 2011

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Osaka has many great souvenirs, and as a foodie destination, you really can’t go wrong!

Check out Osaka Petit Banana (a rip off of Tokyo Banana) or Omoshiroi Koibito (meaning “funny lover”, this is a rip off of Hokkaido’s Shiroi Koibito). Don’t you love Osaka’s sense of humor? It’s no wonder most of the country’s best comedians hail from this area!

Alternatively, you can bring back any Glico product, as Glico was founded in Osaka in 1922, or anything takoyaki/okonomiyaki flavored– like the ramune sodas above.

If you’re looking for non-edible items (but really, who would do that??) go for any trinket featuring the Hanshin Tigers, Osaks’s famous baseball team, or Kuidaore Taro.

Kuidaore Taro (also pictured above) was once the mascot of the defunct restaurant Cui-daore, although he’s now become the symbol of Dotonbori. Kuidaore (食い倒れ) means roughly to “ruin oneself by extravagance in food”. It’s actually part of a larger proverb: 京の着倒れ、大阪の食い倒れ; meaning “dress in kimonos till you drop in Kyoto, eat till you drop in Osaka”.

See? I told you Osaka was all about food!

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>>>Read About Other Prefectures in Japan

 

44 Comments

  • I’ve heard of Osaka from watching foreign dramas. If I ever get to visit this place I have to be sure to try the fried octopus balls. I just watched a drama and that is all they kept talking about lol sounds delicious!

    • Beth Williams says:

      Yes, the takoyaki is very delicious! Although, I think I may like okonomiyaki more…

  • I think I recently saw a movie on Netflix where the characters were from or lived in Osaka. I am a foodie… I cannot get with the fried octopus balls, but I would definitely try the Okonomiyaki. I learned something new here – about Osaka’s sister cities. That is interesting.

  • Katarina K says:

    This is wonderful post! My dream is to go to Japan someday and I would definitely visit Osaka.

  • Bonnie @ wemake7 says:

    What a interesting place to visit. I would love to see the Osaka Aquarium is person. It looks so pretty. I have seen those Pocky sticks before here though.

    • Beth Williams says:

      The Osaka aquarium is a lot of fun! And yes, Pocky is now becoming quite popular here in the US.

  • Rosey says:

    Everything sounds incredible to experience. I like the idea of going from place to place and sampling bites while visiting.

  • Rebecca Swenor says:

    These places sound so interesting to me indeed. I would love to travel to Japan one day. The pancake sounds interesting but I don’t know if I could eat the octopus balls. Thanks so much for sharing.

    • Beth Williams says:

      It really just depends if you like seafood or not! A lot of my friends just eat the fried dough part and spit out the piece of octopus inside :)

  • Freya says:

    Osaka looks really interesting. I have never been to Japan at all yet but it is definitely high on my list, I will need to make sure to include Osaka in my itinerary then. Ooh and of course lots of Japanese food. I love Japanese food.

  • These are great pictures!! I love the decor of the buildings and the souvenirs are amazing!

  • Krystal says:

    POCKY! I just got some recently from Disney World! I saw it at Target I think too. It’s getting more popular! I love seeing the sights of Osaka, what a nice place.

  • Echo says:

    Osaka looks like the perfect place to taste Japan. I have had Pocky before and I absolutely love it. I think visiting Japan would be so incredible.

  • I love travelling, it’s so interesting to experience and see other cultures. Japan really seems to advertise in a big way, The Pancakes look yummy too!

  • Any place known as “Japan’s kitchen” is a-okay in my books! I would love to visit Osaka for the food alone….but I’m not one for busy cities and I know I’d probably have a panic attack in Japan :/
    I love Pocky, btw! I used to get it all the time when living in the UK because it was one of the tastier imports available (hated English food/candy).

    • Beth Williams says:

      Osaka is far less crowded than Tokyo… but even though Tokyo has many people, it often doesn’t feel like it!

  • Many years ago I had the perfect opportunity to spend some time in Osaka. I remember the fantastic food and the awesome aquarium I had ever seen!

  • Carolann says:

    Oh my goodness I never thought about traveling there but it looks wonderful! I love the food and the pics are so inviting. Thanks for bringing this part of the world to my attention. Osaka I think I’m going to be seeing you and hopefully soon!

  • I’ve always been fascinated about Osaka, Japan. I’m a fan of Okonomiyaki and takoyaki too!

    • Beth Williams says:

      Two of my favorite foods! We make okonomiyaki at least once every two weeks for dinner!

  • What really cool photo’s! Octopus balls? Sounds very interesting!

  • This is all great information. I haven’t been to Japan yet, but it is definitely on my list.

  • Carra D says:

    Thanks for sharing about Osaka. I loved viewing all the photos. All those billboards remind me of NYC

    • Beth Williams says:

      I haven’t been to NYC yet, but I’ll be there in May. I’ll have to look for them!

  • Oh wow, I love seeing photos of other places. It’s so different from the farming communities here in Georgia. That food looks really tasty.

    • Beth Williams says:

      I didn’t even know Georgia had big farming communities! I’ve only ever been to Atlanta, but we have our fair share of farms here in IL :)

  • Wow, this is a great post and has definitely peaked my interest in visiting Japan one of these days!

  • My husband has been to Osaka many times when he was still in the service and he said that he love the food there! Another side of japan I got to see through your blog so thanks!

  • Jennifer says:

    I would LOVE to visit Japan. I love the culture and the art. Everything about the country is just so gorgeous.

Comments are closed.