I went to Osaka for a day when I was staying in Kyoto. The ride to get to Osaka is not too long. It took about 1h from Kyoto by train. Don't forget to get your JR pass. I haven't heard much about Osaka before except for the famous running man in Minami district and that this town is famous for good street food. There's even a phrase that's heard frequently there "Kuidaore" which means Eat 'til you drop. As you might guess, I was sold on the street food! Here's what I learned and did while my day trip to Osaka.
Osaka is the third largest city in Japan and the 13th largest in the world with a population of about 10.5 million people.
Located on a bay, it is the commercial, shipping and industrial center of western Japan.
How to get around?
I mostly used the metro to get around. It was quicker to go from one side to the other of the city as I had only couple hours to visit. Metro tickets are about 200 YJP per unit.
I noticed that shopping in Japan is their favorite hobby, no matter when, the shops will always be full. Once in Osaka, go to Shisaibashi Shopping Arcade and its area for shopping. It is about 600 meters long and includes trendy boutiques with expensive fashion labels and department store.
It is also the only place in the world where I saw a 3 storey H&M shop only dedicated to men.
Where to eat
Go to Dotonbori district. You will have plenty of choice in terms of food. It is packed with restaurants and street food stalls. Try the Takoyaki, It means grilled octopus. A flour and egg based batter is cooked with a filling of octopus slices, pickled ginger and green onion molded into small balls. This is the popular street snack in Osaka. Pretty tasty, I liked it.
Things to do
Visit the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyūkan
This is one of the largest public aquariums in the world. It is located 5 minutes walk from Osakako Station. Inside, the 800 m-plus walkway displays marine life in different habitats from around the Pacific ring of fire, which includes 27 tanks, from which the largest is 9 meters deep and include a variety of fish like manta rays and whale sharks. The visit is very entertaining with the sea otters being the favorite attraction! Expect at least 2 hours to visit it. But it is definitely a must do. Especially once you arrive at the big tank and can sit watching the fish circling around, this is a very peaceful sight.
Cost per adult: JPY 2,300
Visit Minami district
Located around Namba station, this is the heart of Osaka, the city's most famous entertainment district which offers a range of restaurants and shopping choices. You will be shocked by how buzzing this part of town is. And you will definitely be entertained by the famous 3d signs of crabs, puller fish, dragon and more in Dotonbori, one of Osaka's most popular tourist destinations. I recommend visiting it by night, as the neon lights in the streets are lit and give more charm to this part of town. Once there, you cannot leave Osaka without taking your photo with the famous Glico Running Man sign that's become the symbol of Osaka.
Perfect way to end the day is to go visit the Osaka Umeda Skybuilding. Opened in 1993, it was named one of the world's top 20 buildings. This is a 40 storey building with a breathtaking 360 panoramic view of Osaka from the observation deck. Getting up there is also an interesting journey, as you first take a lift up with glass windows and then an escalator in a see-through tube that takes you up to the last 5 storeys between the towers. So if you are afraid of height, do NOT look down, or just don't go. But the view up there is definitely worthy and very peaceful. I'd recommend to go by night.
What I love about Osaka is the street life. Once you reach Dotombori district, it is just madness. Restaurants with animated signs, shopping arcades, street food stands, restaurants, gaming rooms. I went there on a mission to try the street food and was not disappointed. There is still plenty to see obviously, but in one day, what I did was already good enough. If you can go visit Osaka, it is definitely worth spending at least a day on your journey around Japan.