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Places to visit in Osaka

Osaka Castle (Osaka Castle Park)Osaka Castle (Osaka Castle Park)

The castle is one of the most famous in Japan and is a symbol of Osaka, as well as the man who originally had the castle built, Hideyoshi Toyotomi. The castle now seen jutting into the sky is not the original; in fact, the castle is sitting in a historically “hot” zone and has been burned and destroyed several times, only to be rebuilt. In 1955, it was recognized as Special Historical Site by the Japanese government. The surrounding park is also very popular with tourists and locals. Each season brings a showcase of colors.

Universal Studios Japan (Osaka)Universal Studios Japan (Osaka)

Universal Studios Japan is the biggest movie-themed park in the world. At the park, movies and movie heroes are recreated into exciting attractions, rides and live Hollywood shows. The park features a large number of movie favorites such as Shrek, Terminator, Spiderman, Jurassic Park, Snoopy, Back to the Future, and more. Here's an interesting piece of trivia: It's said that during the park's early design phase, it was to be called “Universal Studios Osaka”, but when planners noticed the acronym "USO", they changed it to its current name. Why? In Japanese, "uso" means "lie" or "dishonesty" -- nice to know someone caught before it was too late.

Tsutenkaku TowerTsutenkaku Tower

Tsutenkaku Tower (literally, "Tower Reaching Heaven") is a famous symbol of modern Osaka. The original Tsutenkaku was built in 1912 and was modeled after the Eiffel Tower, but was torn down during World War II. In 1956 it was rebuilt, and reaches 103 meters into the sky. On the 5th floor observation deck, a wooden “Billiken” statue can be seen. The tower itself holds some interesting pieces of trivia: Its clock is the biggest of its kind in Japan, it was the first building in the world to feature round elevators, and the bands of lights at the top that light up every evening are actually a unique weather forecast system: the color of the bands tell residents what kind of weather to expect the next day.

Amerikamura (American Village)Amerikamura (American Village)

Called "Ame-mura" by the locals, it is a large entertainment and retail area in the Minami District. More of a fashion center and hangout for local Japanese youth than a "Little America" as the name might suggest, it boasts many shops and nightclubs frequented by both Japanese and foreigners.

Regional Dishes and Famous Foods

Okonomiyaki and TakoyakiOkonomiyaki and Takoyaki

Okonomiyaki and Takoyaki are the "Big Two" Osakan dishes, well-known around Japan and available anywhere. Okonomiyaki is often called a "Japanese pancake" or "Japanese pizza." It's a pan-fried batter cake that has many kinds of ingredients including shrimp, octopus, ginger, scallions, kimuchi, and more. Kansai-style okonomiyaki is mixed together before frying. There are many styles of okonomiyaki; in fact, "okonomiyaki" literally means "cooked as you like."
Takoyaki (literally "fried octopus") is a dish made from similar ingredients to okonomiyaki. Batter, ingredients and pieces of cut octopus are fried in a special cast-iron takoyaki mold, turned by the cook halfway to make them into balls about the size of a ping-pong ball. Finally, they are topped with mayonnaise, aonori, and katsuobushi, In Osaka, it is considered more of a family dish, (spurring the rumor that every family in Osaka has a cast-iron mold to make it) but in most parts of Japan it is considered more of a fast-food. "Boats" of 6 or 10 takoyaki can be bought on the street for around \500.

Udon NoodlesUdon Noodles

Udon is a thick white wheat noodle eaten all over Japan, usually served hot in a bowl of soup. Kansai-style udon is known for its tasty, clear broth. There are also many kinds of toppings available, such as tempura and even onigiri (rice balls)!

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