A city escape to Osaka is great opportunity for couples to enjoy a true cultural adventure in a modern metropolis.
Take advantage of regular and affordable flights between Australia and Japan and get ready for a fun-filled city experience like no other. Nikki Ernst discovered that in only three days, there is a lot to see and do in this fine city.
Culture and History
Get straight into the groove of being in Japan by visiting a historic landmark such as Osaka Castle.
From 1583 until 1614 the castle was home to the powerful feudal lord Toyotomi Hidesyoshi and his family, until it fell to the Tokugawa Shogunate who reconstructed and re-armed the castle, expanding on its original design. Having been completely rebuilt in the early 1900s, today the castle is a fine museum capturing the ages of time and its important place in Japanese history. Standing upon the hilltop gazing out over the impressive gardens and the city of Osaka beyond you feel this is a place steeped in history.
The castle is open from 9am til 5pm and the cost is 600 Yen. The closest JR station is Osakajokoen Station on the JR Loop Line, a 10 minute, 160 yen ride from JR Osaka Station.
Fun and Thrills
A theme park with a Japanese twist… sounds fun, and it is!
Heading off from JR Osaka Station it was an easy train hop out to the shores of Osaka Bay and Universal Studios Japan and although the whole journey fills up one complete day, it's totally worth it! Attraction of the day was awarded to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and in particular the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, followed by the Amazing Adventures of Superman. Both mind blowing and totally captivating!
There is much to see and the whole park is divided into a number of themed areas - Hollywood, New York Universal Wonderland, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Jurassic Park, to name but a few - so it is best to have a plan of attack before you arrive. You might also like to take advantage of the Universal Express Pass which will save you line-up time (pass holders are limited per day).
The park opening times are between 9:00am and 9:30am and closing times vary depending on season so it's best to check online to match to your travel dates.
Put simply, shopping in Osaka is fantastic! Arrive with a near empty suitcase - you'll more than likely return with a full case.
The Japanese have a penchant for seriously trendy and quirky fashion and you'll more than likely find lots of outfits here somewhat different to your normal shops at home.
Due to time constraints, the shopping meccas of Amerikamura and Shinsaibashi Suji topped the list. As both are located near Namba station walking between these two locations is an easy 10 minute trip. While the Amerikamura area is regarded as somewhat 'cool' and attracts the younger, funkier crowd (it's a fun walk through the streets with rap and other American music blaring from shop sound systems), the Shinsaibashi Suji arcade, near Dotonbori, runs for over half a kilometre and features brand-name shops, independent boutiques and other collectables of all sizes, products and prices to suit everyone. Cross Ebisubashi bridge through to Ebisubashi Suji and out over the road you'll find one of Japan's largest department stores, Takashimaya.
If you're wanting electronics you're best off heading to Den Den Town (often compared to Tokyo's Akihabara district), you'll also find a cheap and cheerful shopping environment atTenjinbashi Sugi shopping arcade in the north-eastern district of Osaka.
Eat Until You Drop
Oishii (delicious) is one Japanese word you should know when eating in this city. Renowned for its original dishes such as Takoyaki (fried octopus balls), Okonomiyaki (a pancake style dish) and Kushi-Katsu (deep fried skewered food), and a whole host of other Japanese fare that they do oh-so-well, you can see why Osaka people are so proud of their "Eat Until You Drop" name.
Personally, I love the simplicity of a Japanese set menu option – a cheap and cheerful range of tasty dishes served to you as a complete meal – so this was of course my first meal in the city, followed by a delicious steaming bowl of ramen. These should be just some of the dishes you try whilst eating your way through a city know for its food though!
For a great foody atmosphere head to the neon-bright district of Dotonbori (near Namba Station) or enjoy the dining district of Kitashinchi (a ten minute walk south of Osaka Station). But really, on the main streets, down the arcades, in the back alleys – no matter where you tread in Osaka you're bound to find a restaurant or small stall serving a menu of deliciousness.
For a short break – or longer – couples that choose to explore this city together are in for a fabulous time.
- Discover more at Osaka Info Sightseeing Information Centres can be found at four locations around the city: Umeda/Osaka Station, Shin-Osaka, Tennoji and Namba.
- Rihga Royal Hotel offers accommodation in a grand setting. Note there is a difference between the rooms and suites depending on if you stay in the Tower Wing or West Wing. There is a daily transfer bus between the hotel and JR Osaka Station which takes approxiamately 10 minutes each way.
- Kansai International Airport is approximately 1 hour from Osaka city centre. Taxi costs approxiamately AUD$140 or you can travel by train or bus.
- Getting there: Fly Scoot (via Singapore) or Jetstar (via Tokyo) or check with your local travel agent.