Most visitors to Japan go there with one city in mind – Tokyo, the sprawling, colourful and vibrant metropolis that has become one of the most famous destinations in the East. But don’t be fooled – there is much more to Japan than meets the eye, starting with Osaka, the third largest city in the country. Though not as famous as the capital, Osaka has just as much to do and see and is quickly becoming a hub for culture, art, music and most famously, food. Grab your passport, here’s what you need to know.
Considered the heart of Osaka, this is the main shopping and food district in the city, marked by a huge arcade and throngs of people at all times of day. Covered with neon billboard and 3D signs think of it as the city’s equivalent of New York’s Times Square. Shinsaibashi is for shopping – you can find any number of items in the district – while Dotonbori is Osaka’s foodie hub. And with Osaka known as Japan’s kitchen and often popping up on culinary capital lists we can’t recommend you simply one restaurant – instead work your way through the famous Kani Doraku, known world-over for crab, Kinryu Ramen and Zuboraya to try the best local cuisine.
Located in the Hebris Plaza in the city Emporio Armani continues its international outreach with its Osaka store, housing the latest collections from the world famous Italian designer, including womenswear, menswear and accessories. Stock up on the latest looks from the runway before hitting the town in the trendy Namba district.
Herbis Plaza 1F, 2-5-25, Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi
While Osaka has numerous bars catering to an international crowd (and the obligatory Irish, English and Australian bars for tourists) Yuzu no Komachi is a far more authentic spot in the city’s downtown Namba district, surrounded by several other trendy drinking spots. Decorated in traditional style guests sit on cushions on the floor with sake and local dishes. And when you’ve had your fill here head just down the road to Onzieme, also in Namba, to the club on the 11th floor of a high rise building for dancing from 9pm until the morning.
Yuzu no Komachi: 3-4-16 Nanba Chuo-ku Osaka
Onzieme: Midosuji building 11F, 1-4-5 Nishi Shinsai-bashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka-shi, 542-0086
While it may be best known for its food, Osaka’s culture doesn’t stop there; the city has a rich contemporary art scene too. We recommend you start your tour of Eastern art at Shihoudou Gallery that was founded in 1977 to showcase Japanese paintings and sculptures, including famous realist painter Sousuke Morimoto. From there head to Port Gallery T. Located in Osaka’s Nishi Ward the gallery shows contemporary art and photography, draws influence from its neighbourhood and is well known for its ‘White Cube Space’ – where art is exhibited with blank walls so that all attention is focused on the work. Lastly, don’t leave before a trip to The Third Gallery Aya that shows up-and-coming Japanese creators with a focus on female artists, often overlooked elsewhere.
Shihoudou Gallery, 3-6-1 Hirano-machi, Chuo-ku, Osaka, Japan
Port Gallery T, 1F Yasuda Bldg. 1-8-31 Kyomachibori Nishi-ku, Osaka, Japan
The Third Gallery Aya, Wakasa Bldg, 2F,1-8-24 Edobori, Nishi-ku, Osaka, Japan
The live music scene in Japan isn’t as prolific as other countries, but that’s not to say that there aren’t gems to uncover whatever your preferred genre may be. If you’re into more intimate performances then try Billboard Live for jazz, soul and folk while also testing out the venue’s restaurant. To catch the latest international and Japanese stars head to Blue note Osaka where there are two shows a night. Or if you’re a hip-hop, pop and reggae fan then Shinsaibashi Club Quattro is for you, where the shows start early in the evening for both international and at home acts. Expect a loud and party-ready crowd everynight!
Billboard Live: B2 2-2-2 Umeda, Kita-ku, Osaka
Blue Note: 2-3-21 Sonezaki-shinchi, Kita-ku, Osaka
Shinsaibashi Club Quattro: 8F, 1-9-1 Shinsaibashi-suji, Chuo-ku, Osaka