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.
Booking was very easy. I sent an email directly to the hotel, but you can also check Booking.com or HotelsCombined to see if they have any better prices.
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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TRAVEL IN JAPAN:
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.
oooh, that looks excellent. Can’t wait to see Osaka in just a few weeks!
WOW you certainly did miss ALOT of the other Osaka Attractions…
The Osaka castle and surrounding park land is stunning and cheap for a castle ticket. Universal Studios is not unlike any other park where everything is overpriced, but was fun none the less. And there is a Hard Rock and Bubba Gump’s just outside on Universal Walk too.
Dotonbori was FABULOUS!! Loads of shops and restaurants. and the Shin-bashi shopping precinct is great too. I remember walking past the hotel you stayed at and actually got a photo of me kissing one of the statues.
Expo park is lovely to visit. There is always different festivals happening out there too.
Travelling on the trains is super easy as every station is assigned a number. Ticket prices are cheap, but can be confusing as to which price ticket you need, but a couple of days and it’s second nature. DON’T buy a rail pass before you get there. We were offered JR passes by travel agent but most of the trains we used on subway were not JR so would have been a waste of money. Having to change between the different rail companies can be painful, but their schedules are great and all the trains were clean.
Can def recommend the KKR Hotel (near Osaka Castle – actually within walking distance), and the Shin-Osaka Washington Hotel Plaza as places to stay. Both hotels had friendly staff. As like any hotel in Osaka be prepared for (very) small rooms. It’s just the way they do things there.
Eat as much street food as you can find. It is FABULOUS. Okonimiyaki and Yakitori was my favourites. They are specialised to Osaka, so no better place to try them. Takoyaki was my hubby’s fave, especially from the place in the photo above in Dotonbori.
Tsutenkaku towers is another another good area for shopping and the meeting place for Eat Osaka cooking classes.
[email protected] Bugs says
Nice tips! I spent many days in Osaka and certainly have a great time at Dotonbori street! Check my tips at : http://tantaikwee.blogspot.sg/2016/05/touring-famous-street-of-dotonbori-osaka.html