Osaka is a popular tourist hub, and Japan’s second biggest metropolitan area after Tokyo is home to around nine million people. It is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture, and there’s WiFi, fluently multi-lingual people and a lot to do – what more do you need? Whether you’re travelling alone or you’re going with people, here are some things you can do during your visit.
Spa World offers a variety of services, which includes European Onsen, Asian Onsen, its hotel, a salon, pool and sauna. The latter options are pretty self-explanatory in what they are, but onsen is mostly unheard of outside of the culture. Onsen is a Japanese hot spring with bathing facilities and inns inside the complex. As Japan is volcanically active, you’ll find thousands of hot springs in the country. Even some really luxurious hotels (which you have pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for one night) offer in-room onsen baths… but it’s unlikely that you have that kind of money so Spa World is your lot.
Bear in mind the potential risk of having tattoos, even tiny ones. Tattoos are uncommon in Japan and on Japanese people and are stigmatised for their association with crime gangs such as the Yakuza, so there might be a slight chance you could be refused entry. This is seldom the case with foreign visitors, but just be aware of the risk.
Hailed on Trip Advisor as “the best restaurant in Japan”, the Kuma Café is an Australian bar which is vegetarian and vegan friendly. It is open for brunch, lunch and dinner so you an eat the cuisine at most times of the day until 7pm. It serves western foods and if you’ve had a tiring day you can enjoy the relaxing atmosphere while you take time out and speak to people who will give you great travelling tips as you continue journeying around Japan.
The Shinsaibashi area is the largest area for shopping in Osaka, and one of the most popular places to go. If you venture here you will find boutiques and specialty shops, as well as high street stores and more high-end brands in some areas. It’s also full of little alleyways with traditional Japanese food, so if you want to get a sense of local trends and culture, this is the place to go.
You don’t have to go everywhere on foot though; here are some places you can take the train to.
Check out the Hōzen-ji Temple in Namba, a small, intimate Buddhist temple along a quaint alley, with a moss-covered statue of the deity Fudomyoo. Despite some overcrowding with tourists, it is located in the heart of the shopping district so there’s always something to do. The nightlife scene at Namba is said to be good for an experience of traditional Japanese atmosphere as it attracts tourists and local people as well. However, some travellers have said the Hōzen-ji Temple isn’t worth making the trip to see alone; while it’s good for tranquility, it lacks in magnitude and may be slightly underwhelming.
Once the capital of Japan, this place is famous for its classical Buddhist temples, along with gardens, imperial palaces, Shinto shrines and traditional wooden houses. In the spring months, its cherry blossom season and people travel from all over the world to go to Kyoto at this time to see its unbelievable nature. For the cheapest method of getting there, take an old traditional train all the way through the mountains, but you can alternatively take Japanese old boats down the river. In Kyoto, you must make the visit to The Golden Pavilion.
THE GOLDEN PAVILION
Kinkaku-ji, or Rokuon-ji as it is officlally named, is the Golden Pavilion. It is a Buddist temple and stands as one of the most popular buildings in Japan because of its glittering gold shine that makes the pavilion dazzles visitors as it’s reflection shimmers across its mirroring pond.
In the final stages of World War II, an atomic bomb was dropped on the city and over 70,000 people were killed instantly. If you get the chance to see it, you will love the city for its generally positive and respectful atmosphere, with the memorials of the bombing to give you an extra emotional experience. Pay respects at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial (above), which was made a monument to the event in 1996 being the only building structure left standing near the bombs hypocentre.
You could visit the memorials in the morning, before making the short trip to Miyajima Island to see the Itsukushima Shrine – the sunset there will be unforgettable and is perfect to follow the memorials.
You could have another brilliant day trip outside of Osaka to Nara, where there is plenty of culture and beautiful temples. There are also gardens which are home to friendly and freely roaming deer, which make it a really unique city to walk around and explore at your own pace. The further into the gardens you go, you’ll find the crowds disappear but some gardens such as Isuien Garden are more popular and so will get busy with tourists. These gardens and temples are a sight you wouldn’t see back home so make sure to see at least one kind!