- Introducing Osaka -
Osaka is a hidden gem of a city for tourists, often overlooked in favor of capital Tokyo and cultural Kyoto. But Osaka rewards tourists with unique experiences, delicious food, warm hospitality, and a sense of humor famous throughout Japan. With less marquee attractions though, local knowledge is invaluable to making the most of your Osaka experience. And that’s what I aim to arm you with. :)
- Osaka vs Tokyo -
The population of Osaka City is 2.7 million people. It’s the third biggest Japanese city, behind 9.2 million for Tokyo and 3.7 million for Yokohama… which is essentially another part of Tokyo! The population of the greater Tokyo Area is nearly 38 million people - wrap your head around that! The problem with comparing Osaka and Tokyo as cities is considering Tokyo a city at all. You can drive on raised highways through Tokyo for hours and never feel like you’ve left ‘the city’. Compared to the sprawling megapolis monstrosity of Tokyo, Osaka is a more compact city that feels much more manageable.
- Location -
The region containing Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, & Nara is called “Kansai”, or “Kinki”. Which is awesome - think of all the “Kinki” experiences you can have! You can sleep in a Kinki bed! Have a Kinki shower, followed by Kinki breakfast! “How do you like your eggs?” “Kinki-style!”. Even bad events sound better here! “That was some Kinki car accident, amiright?” :)
Osaka is a port city, and conveniently located for day trips in the Kansai region, just an hour by train to Kyoto, Nara, Kobe and Wakayama. See traveling to Osaka for more information about transportation into the city, or day trips from Osaka for other travel suggestions nearby.
- Getting around Osaka
Public transportation in Osaka is convenient and cheap, so unless you specifically plan to travel somewhere outside the city that requires a car, trains, subways and buses will get you where you need to go. In fact, because the city is mostly flat and a manageable size, a great way way to see it is via bicycle.
If you’re not on a bicycle, subways are the most convenient way to get around once you’re in the city. See travel inside Osaka for more information on train/subway passes, travel times and travel costs for trips around the city.
- North & South
Osaka’s two main centers are Umeda in the North and Namba in the South. Umeda is a business center, whereas Namba is known for entertainment. There are plenty of things to see, do, drink, eat and shop for in both areas, and many others around the city. But I’m biased - I think the area around Namba is the place to be for the most fun. ;)
For further information, maps and detailed descriptions of these areas, see Osaka Tourist Attractions for maps and descriptions of some areas of note to give you a lay of the land.
- What's Osaka famous for?
Osaka is famous for many things that make it a great place to visit, and to live in.
- Food! First and foremost, Osaka is famous for food, with “kuidaore” (Eat until you drop) being a local motto. Check out our foods guide or restaurant guide to give you an idea of what’s on offer. It’s generally cheaper to eat and drink here than Tokyo too, which is a bonus.
- Comedy! Osakan people are famous for their sense of humor, and for being rude…
by Japanese standards, which means painfully polite everywhere else in the world. :) Famously warm and funny, you’ll meet wonderful people here.
Osakan comedy is famous throughout Japan. Even non-Japanese speakers can get their share of laughs at ROR Comedy Club, Osaka’s English-language Stand Up Comedy club. With shows every Friday night at 9pm, a top-ranking on Trip Advisor and regular comedians from overseas dropping in, it’s well worth checking out.
- Nightlife! Osaka’s nightlife is something to behold! Although there are clubs in Osaka,
it’s in the thousands of bars and pubs where Osaka really shines. And particularly the South of Osaka, around Namba, Amemura & Shinsaibashi are where it’s at.
Check out our nightlife guide, or take the Pub Passport Tour to get a local advice, a personal guide as well as discounts on drinks, food and nightclubs.
- Other stuff! Osaka’s has fewer famous tourist attractions than Kyoto or Tokyo, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see! Aside from Universal Studios Japan and the always impressive Osaka Aquarium, there are many things to see and experience in Osaka.
Check out our Things To Do In Osaka & Osaka Tourist Attractions guides for more details.