Ah! Osaka! I must admit, I had never thought much about it. I don’t know why… probably because I have always been more attracted to the traditional side of Japan and I thought Tokyo would be enough to experience modernity. We were so uninterested that we had even skipped it all together in the first itinerary drafts for our Japan holiday. In the end, we decided to spend one night there, only because it would make getting to and from Koyasan easier.
Ohhhh how glad I am we did visit it!! Osaka is actually a beautiful city! Very modern for sure, but nonetheless a beautiful place and I highly recommend you visit it! That’s why I wrote this little Osaka guide.
Unfortunately we did not have a lot of time to dedicate to the visit, so we decided to just see the Dotonbori area. We arrived at Shin-Osaka Station from Hiroshima and took the subway to Namba station. As we had chosen to stay the night in Osaka on our way to Koysan, we chose to stay in the Dotonbori/Namba area. You see, the trains for Koyasan depart from Namba station, so this was a very strategic move. 😉
Besides being extremely close to Namba, the Dotonbori area is also famous for its beautiful lights, night life and… food. So, it was the perfect place for us!
Dotonbori is in fact one of Osaka’s most popular tourist destinations. The main street runs parallel to the Dotonbori canal. It is a popular shopping and entertainment district.
At night it is lit by hundreds of neon lights and mechanized signs, including the famous Glico Running Man sign and Kani Doraku crab sign.
We just went around enjoying the lights and even though we were really tired, we thoroughly enjoyed it.
We particularly liked the Hozenji Yokocho Alley area. There are more than 60 traditional restaurants and izakaya along its narrow path.
We had a delicious yakitori dinner in one of these izakayas.
Even though we could not see much more, there are many interesting sites in Osaka, like the castle, Tennoji and the Kita/Umeda area. And even attractions like the Osaka Universal Studios!
Osaka surely deserves much more time to be explored, and it’s already on our “visit-again-list”!
Osaka is a foodie paradise! It is famous for its Okonomiyaki, a pancake made with shredded cabbage and a whole range of other ingredients such as squid, prawn, octopus or meat served with okonomiyaki sauce, mayonnaise, green laver and dried bonito.
Another speciality of Osaka is Takoyaki, a flour and egg based batter cooked with a filling of octopus slices, pickled ginger and green onion. It is made using a special pan which moulds the ingredients into small balls. Takoyaki sauce and other toppings such as mayonnaise, green laver and dried bonito flakes are then added on the top. This is the ultimate Osaka street food!
We had some and really enjoyed watching the skilled Takoyaki “chefs” prepare them in tiny shops.
See how fast they are at turning the Takoyaki balls in the moulds?
Other typical food are Kushikatsu (battered and deep fried pieces of food on skewers), Kitsune Udon (udon served in a hot soup with a piece of deep fried tofu) and Teppanyaki style food.
In Dotonbori, we slept in the only western style hotel of the whole trip: the Dotonbori hotel.
The hotel is in a fantastic spot. It’s basically in the centre of Dotonbori and walking distance from Namba Station!! Really unbeatable as it was very easy to go and explore the area by night, even after a long day and with 2 kids in tow!
We had a triple room and it was very small. And when I say small I mean SMALL. There was no place to open the suitcase and the bathroom was tiny.
But, it had everything we needed and the beds were really comfortable. Besides, it was the cheapest place we stayed at!
We had all the usual toiletry sets you find in Japanese hotels, like toothbrushes and toothpaste, razors etc… And they even had free ramen at 10PM in the hall! We were already asleep by then, but it would have been nice to try it. They also gave presents to the girls and that was a nice touch too.
I highly recommend Dotonbori hotel because it was great quality for the money we paid and for the amazing location. This is definitely the place where we will be staying on our next visit to Osaka, even with a small room.
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HOW TO GET THERE
You can easily reach Osaka by Shinkansen (arriving at Shin-Osaka station). It takes about 1.5 hours from Hiroshima and about 2.5 hours from Tokyo. Osaka is also just a half hour away from Kyoto.
To go to Dotonbori from Shin-Osaka Station, take the subway Midosuji line and get down at Namba (7 stops).
*In the spirit of full disclosure, this post contains some affiliate links, which means that I may get a commission if you decide to purchase anything from my partners’ sites.