Osaka is a city that overflows with energy no matter the time or era. Why not experience a few traditions unique to Osaka and to Japan in this city built on unique customs? Here are 5 experiences you can have to make your trip particularly special.
1. Walk around town wearing Japanese clothing like kimono or yukata
Since they've come all the way to Japan, many travelers want to wear kimono and walk around. However, putting kimono on takes skill and time as it's actually a rather difficult garment to wear. In times like that, the simple kimono "wabikae" comes in handy. Wabikae is a type of kimono that you just put on over your clothes like a coat, so anyone can transform their outfit into a traditional Japanese one in just 5 minutes. It's light and easy to move in even while it's sturdily built so that it won't get worn out of shape. One of them costs around 50,000 JPY, but you can rent them for just 3,000 JPY (reservations necessary for groups of 5 or more). Don't you want to cut a striking figure on the streets of Osaka in your wabikae kimono? Then definitely check them out.
*The particular kimono in this photo may not be available.
2. Try fully becoming a samurai or ninja
Ninjas and samurai aren't famous just in Japan, but worldwide. The huge hit movie series "Star Wars" used the helmet of the military commander of the Warring States Period, Masamune Date, as a model for the jet black mask that Darth Vader wears. Also, the lightsaber fights in the movie use Japanese theatrical sword fighting techniques as a reference. The Nihon Tatedo Kyokai (Japanese Theatrical Sword Fighting Association) has a workshop where you can dress up as a samurai or a ninja and learn how to use a sword and fight from instructors. After you take a lesson, you can act in a scene with someone playing your enemy to background music and sound effects. This course is 5,000 JPY for adults and 3,000 JPY for children aged ten and under. It isn't an experience you should throw yourself into recklessly, so please challenge it seriously.
*The photo is for reference and doesn't reflect the experience.
3. Learn to make takoyaki, Osaka's comfort food
In the Edo Period (1603-1868), Osaka shone as the center of distribution and business, and that's when the food culture that gave the city the name "the Emperor's Kitchen" came from. One of the representative dishes of this gourmet city takoyaki, fried balls of dough with octopus inside. You can experience making your own takoyaki at Takomasa in Dotonbori. The staff will teach you how to easily enjoy making true Osaka takoyaki, so foreigners who don't speak Japanese can participate as well. Depending on the number of people it takes an hour to an hour and a half, and the price is 1,800 JPY for students and 1,500 JPY for non-students (both come with a drink, but students receive a gift as well).
*The takoyaki may not look like the photo.
4. Make your own original instant ramen
In 1958, the founder of Nissin Food Products, Momofuku Ando, invented Chicken Ramen in Osaka's Ikeda area. With the idea that he wanted to promote the importance of his invention, he opened the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in 1999. There are exhibitions showing the history of instant ramen from the birth of the idea, a tunnel lined with the 800 different packages instant ramen has had throughout the years, and other such attractions. A particularly popular attraction them is the My Cup Noodle Factory (reservations not needed; 300 JPY per cup), where you can make your own unique Cup Noodle. You can choose your favorite soup from four varieties, and choose 4 ingredients from a list of 12 that includes shrimp, egg, onions, and corn, to make your very own original Cup Noodle. It's popular with people of all ages, so it's perfect for a family outing. Why not try making your own unique Cup Noodle?
5. Make your own soba noodles
Soba (noodles made from buckwheat flavor) are just as popular with Japanese people as ramen and udon are. Unlike other types of noodles, soba is eaten on auspicious occasions, like after a move or during the new year, as a lucky charm. Jin, in Kita-Hanada, offers a workshop where you can learn how to make your own soba (3,000 JPY (excl. tax) for one class). They only accept 1-2 people per lesson, so you can learn one-on-one from an experienced teacher how to properly make the noodles. In this workshop you'll make soba for five people and learn how to properly use a soba knife to cut the noodles to the desired shape and thickness. If you'd like, you can also mix the soba flour with yuzu or basil to create a new kind of soba noodle. Small children can participate as well, so it would be fun to do as a family.
*The workshop may differ from the photo.
Osaka, a city that shines full of tradition and a robust food culture, continues to attract foreign tourists. Why not experience more of Japan by partaking in experiences that you can only have here, in Japan and in Osaka specifically?
*Please note that the prices and other information in the article may not be the most up-to-date information