An evening in Osaka

Osaka is the second largest city of Japan after Tokyo/Yokohama area. While the city has many sites and attractions to offer, there is quite a lively scene once the sun goes down. A great way to spend an evening in Osaka is to head towards Namba district. This shopping/entertainment district in the Minami (south) area of Osaka is a bustling center of street food stalls, puppet show and movie theaters, as well as bars and nightclubs.

I started off my evening with an early supper. And what better to eat than the most iconic of Osakan foods, a savoury pancake called Okonomiyaki. Okonomi means you like what you get, and yaki means grilled. You can literally get what you like by requesting various toppings in your okonomiyaki. Then those toppings are grilled in front of you along with a batter and special brown sauce. I opted for the vegetarian option and while it might look small or light in the picture below, it is quite filling.

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          (vegetarian okonomiyaki – rice, cabbage and local cheese)

Next I walked through the Dotonbori area and the narrow backstreets towards the famous Dotonbori entertainment area. I suggest walking through these backstreets rather than taking the main road, because these back streets are an interesting mix of traditional shops. Once interesting thing I came across along the way was a video game machine where the prize was a toothbrush, in case you need to brush your teeth before you go shopping!!

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                                  (walking towards the Namba area)

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                                          (backstreets of Osaka)

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   (in case you forgot your toothbrush, you can now win one by playing this game!)

After a gentle stroll through the back streets, I ended up on the extremely crowded Dotonbori area. The area was full of bright lights shining from the various shops and billboards, as I stood on the bridge over the Dotonbori canal. One thing that you must see is a big billboard of a man running in athletic clothing. This man on the hoarding is the Glico Man. It is an icon of Osaka, and it has an interesting story behind it that you can read here. Also, look out for mechanized shop signs, with moving octopuses and other things, and also check out the video screens along both sides. As you walk along the boardwalk, you will feel invited (almost in a teasing way) by the various aromas and smells of street foods being cooked and grilled right in front of you. Dotonbori does have a big street food culture. Takoyaki, a very famous Japanese dish, is found on the streets here.

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             (The Dotonbori canal in Namba district)

They say that half of Japan’s population lives in Osaka and Tokyo metropolitan areas. Judging by the crowd in the picture below, it definitely felt like half of Japan had showed up.

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        (Dotonbori shopping area packed with New Year’s shoppers)

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              (A little Mango pudding dessert at a French Bakery in Dotonbori)

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            (Dotonbori shopping/street food area)

After spending an interesting few hours in the bustling Dotonbori area, I decided to head off somewhere a little more quieter and with a more spectacular view. So I took a train to the JR Umeda station, and a short walk from the station led me to the Umeda Sky Building, which is 40 floors tall, and has a floating garden observatory which offers perhaps the best views of the Osaka city area. And night time also presents a great opportunity to get these incredible views with the full effect of the beautiful multi-colored night lights. You can see (& hear) the trains go back and forth on the bridges over the Yodo river, spot airplanes taking-off and landing, and watch cars zoom-by on the roads below. Such a sight makes you really aware of how alive the city of Osaka is.

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                       (Umeda Sky Building)

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                        (Looking down from the 40th floor)

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                                      (View from observatory)

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                                  (View from observatory)

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                                     (View from observatory)

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                                      (View from observatory)

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                                        (View from observatory)

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                                      (View from observatory)

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                                      (View from observatory)

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                          (View from observatory with a plane landing)

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                                       (View from observatory)

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                                      (View from observatory)

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                                          (View from observatory)

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                                      (View from observatory)

All in all, it was a great way to experience the energy of Osaka and spend a few hours of the evening exploring this incredible Japanese city.

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Items: Namba/Dotonbori area, Umeda Sky Building (official site)

Price: Price to visit Dotonbori/Namba area is free, Umeda Sky Building ticket is 420 or 700 yen

Location: 1-1-88, Oyodonaka, Kita-ku, Osaka, Japan 531-0076

Timings: Shopping and Dining vary, Umeda Sky Building Observatory is 10 am to 10 pm

Telephone: Umeda Sky Building + 81 6-6440-3899

Type: Tourist/Entertainment/Food

How to get there: Take JR line to JR Namba station Once at the station, walk 5 mins north.

Language: Varies as per location, English/Japanese.

Also visit: Osaka City Station, Shinsekai (Old Osaka), Osaka Castle, Osaka Aqualiner Boat Tour.

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