[2018 Edition] 30 Things to Do in the Umeda Area of Osaka From Standards to Hidden Gems
Osaka is the largest city in western Japan. The Umeda area, which is located at its center, is extremely popular for shopping, eating and sightseeing. This time, we introduce 30 spots in Umeda that you won't want to miss.
What is the Umeda Area of Osaka Like?
Osaka Prefecture, which is the center of the Kansai Region, is a large metropolis second only to the capital city of Tokyo. There are 43 cities, towns and villages in the prefecture, and Osaka City is the center of its economy. Osaka City has two large commercial areas called Kita and Minami, and Kita is the area around Umeda. With many department stores and shopping malls, it is crowded with shoppers every day. There are also many restaurants and shops where you can enjoy wonderful, cheap food. There are also many tourist spots such as a large ferris wheel and a garden observatory on top of a skyscraper.
Umeda is also a terminal city where a variety of trains run through, including JR, subway lines, Hankyu Railway and Hanshin Electric Railway. Although each railway company has a station with different names (Osaka Station, Kitashinchi Station, Umeda Station, Higashi-Umeda Station, Nishi-Umeda Station), they are all connected by huge underground shopping malls. It is one stop from Shin-Osaka Station, where the Shinkansen stops, on JR Kyoto Line. From Kansai International Airport, it is about 65 minutes on the JR Kansai Airport Rapid Service and about 30 minutes from Itami Airport on the monorail and Hankyu Railway. There are also airport "limousine" buses from both airports to hotels and commercial facilities in Umeda.
Enjoy the Food in Umeda!
Go to Izakaya
Umeda is filled with izakaya, a type of Japanese pub-restaurant that is hugely popular. Itadakitai Kitashinchi Branch is a particularly popular one. It is a casual izakaya to enjoy food and drinks at reasonable prices despite being located in Kitashinchi, an area famous for high-end restaurants. At this izakaya, you can have Japanese food, sake and wine in a chic setting. The Sashimi Stairs Plate (1,706 JPY (incl. tax)) made with fresh seafood delivered from a fishing port every morning is a hugely popular dish that more than 90% of the customers order. The Ikura Tsukkomi-meshi (3,240 JPY (incl. tax) and up) is a fabulous dish with the wow factor of salmon roe overfilling the bowl. There are English menus and English-speaking staff.
Umeda has many restaurants serving great sushi, from casual ones to high-end ones. Uoshin Umeda Branch is a restaurant that serves sushi with toppings that are about three times the size of typical sushi where you are sure to be pleased with both the volume and price. A must order item here is the Ikura Kobore Nigiri (460 JPY (excl. tax) each) that is packed with salmon roe that pops delightfully in the mouth. The lunch sets that will fill you up for less than 1,000 JPY are also recommended. There are menus in English and Chinese (Simplified) and staff who speak English and Chinese.
Sushi-go-rounds are great for people who want to enjoy sushi more casually. Plates of sushi come around on a conveyor belt, so customers can pick up whatever they want to eat. There are many popular sushi-go-round restaurants in Umeda, such as Daiki Suisan, Kishu Yaichi Genrokuzushi and Ganko. Among them, Kantarou, which serves freshly caught seasonal seafood, is a particular recommendation. The balance between the large toppings and small shari (rice) is perfect. They offer a wide selection of toppings, so try a variety. There are menus in English, Chinese (Simplified) and Korean. Budget is about 1,900 JPY.
This is the Place to Have Ramen!
Ramen is a Japanese dish that has recently become popular around the world. The Umeda area is one of Osaka's leading ramen battlegrounds and has many famous restaurants. Ramen Yashichi, which is Umeda's most famous ramen restaurants, has topped a variety of different ramen rankings. It is only open for lunch and closes as soon as the soup runs out, so try to get a numbered ticket for entry that is handed out before the shop opens. Its main menu item is the Shoyu Ramen (730 JPY) served in a rich, creamy, white chicken paitan broth with a soy-based sauce added in. The medium-thick noodles with a chewy texture soak up the creamy soup and the chopped scallions enhance the umami (Japanese savory taste) flavors of the chicken
Get Your Fill of Osaka Gourmet in the Giant Underground Mall, Whity Umeda
The underground malls in Umeda are among the largest in Japan, out of which Whity Umeda is the biggest. It consists of five malls with a total of about 190 shops including drugstores and shops selling fashion items, cosmetics, and miscellaneous goods. The place to go for a meal is the North Mall, which is filled with a variety of different restaurants. Many of them serve items that Osaka is known for, such as kushi-katsu (deep fried battered skewers of a variety of bite-size ingredients) and okonomi-yaki (savory pancakes of vegetables, meats and seafood in a batter of flour and water).
Enjoy Great Food in Hankyu Sanban Gai's UMEDA FOOD HALL
Hankyu Sanban Gai is a shopping center directly connected to Hankyu Umeda Station. UMEDA FOOD HALL, which opened on the B2F of the North Building, is attracting attention as a gourmet hot spot. It is a food court where the variety of foods sold by the 18 stores in it can be eaten in a shared space. There are shops serving sushi, ramen, seafood bowls and French and Italian cuisine, as well as a cafe and sweets shop, so it is great for a wide range of occasions day and night. It has a calm atmosphere, so you can relax and enjoy your meal.
Have a Drink in Shin-Umeda Shokudogai
Shin-Umeda Shokudogai is the recommended place for drinks. It is an area under JR tracks that has long been packed with restaurants and bars. There are approximately 100 restaurants and tachinomi (standing-room-only) bars lining both sides of the narrow street. Yakko, a tachinomi bar, is one of the district's most popular spots and is packed with customers every day. Dishes of food made with seasonal ingredients procured that day that go perfectly with sake are displayed on the counter and can be ordered at reasonable prices between 300 JPY and 500 JPY a plate. The conversations with other customers who happen to be there is one of the appeals of tachinomi bars.
So Much to See! Sightseeing Spots Around Umeda
Ride the Red Ferris Wheel at HEP FIVE
The red ferris wheel on the roof of the shopping building, HEP FIVE, is considered to be an Umeda landmark. It takes about 15 minutes to go around once, and on it, you can see a 360-degree panoramic view from 106m up in the air. On a clear day, you can see the Akashi Kaikyo Bridge and Mt. Ikoma, and in the evening, a nightscape with lights glimmering like gemstones. The air-conditioned gondola is a wonderful place from which to relax and enjoy views of all the famous spots in the area. You can ask the ferris wheel crew for a photograph that comes with an original album (500 JPY/each). The photos are in sets of two, so you can share with friends and family.
Fare: 600 JPY/person
Go to the Kuchu Teien Observatory in Umeda Sky Building
Umeda Sky Building is a 40-story skyscraper with a futuristic design and numerous shops, restaurants, a movie theater, and more. The most popular areas in the building is the Kuchu Teien Observatory, from which you can see a panoramic view of the city of Osaka from 170m aboveground, and the Sky Walk rooftop corridor that is even further up. The Sky Walk, from which there are fantastic views in all directions, is the highest open-air observatory in Osaka. It is great during the day, and lovely in the evening when you can see a romantic sunset or nightscape. As the sun sets, the stones embedded in the corridor's floors begin to light up, shrouding the deck in a mystical mood.
Kuchu Teien Observatory entrance fee: 1,500 JPY (incl. tax)/adult, 700 JPY (incl. tax)/age 4 through elementary school)
Enjoy a Retro Atmosphere in Takimi Koji
Takimi Koji, on the B1F of Umeda Sky Building, is an area with more than 20 restaurants beloved by both locals and tourists alike. Its concept is Showa Retro*. It is designed to recreate the feel of a town from the past, with a shrine, police box, and hand-pumped well, so that visitors can not only enjoy meals in a location like a movie set, but also take unique photographs. There are a variety of different types of restaurants, including ones serving the Osaka specialties of okonomiyaki and kushikatsu, as well as ones serving tempura and ramen. There are also cafes and bars so there is something for everyone.
*The image of a Japanese town from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Enjoy the Day in Osaka Station City
Osaka Station City is a huge complex with a domed roof connecting JR Osaka Station, a terminal linking various places in the Kansai Region, the South Gate Building and the North Gate Building. It incorporates popular shopping facilities such as Daimaru Umeda Shop, a hotel, movie theater, and a variety of restaurants on its vast grounds—enough shopping and entertainment for a whole day of fun. The Tourist Service Center on the station's Third Floor North-South Access Bridge offers multilingual tourist information as well as services such as courier services. Osaka Station City also has a currency exchange and prayer room that can be used by people of all religions.
Visit Osaka Garden City
Osaka Garden City in the West Umeda area has a variety of different facilities, the most popular of which are Herbis Plaza and Herbis Plaza ENT that include famous high-end brand shops, boutiques selling a variety of stylish clothing and goods, and a wide range of restaurants. There is something for everyone, including the luxury hotel, The Ritz Carlton, Osaka, a theater for the Shiki Theater Company, and Billboard Live OSAKA, where you can enjoy performances by famous artists from around the world.
Pray for Love at Tsuyu no Tenjinja
Tsuyu no Tenjinja is a Shinto shrine with a 1,300-year history known as the protector of the Osaka area. It is also said to have matchmaking benefits based on a famous love story that was set in this area called Sonezaki Shinju (The Love Suicides at Sonezaki). The shrine is commonly known as Ohatsu Tenjin, in honor of Ohatsu, who is the heroine of the story, and is visited by many people who wish to pray for their love to be requited. There are Koi-mikuji fortune slips to see what chances you have for love, and a variety of love-related items to buy, such as heart-shaped Ema plaques to write in your hope for love and pairs of amulets to share with that special someone.
Enjoy the Nightlife in Hankyu Higashidori Shotengai
Hankyu Higashidori Shotengai is the Umeda area's largest entertainment district. It consists mostly of restaurants and bars but also has many entertainment facilities such as karaoke boxes, game centers and discos. Many are open till the morning, so it is perfect for a late night out. There are also men-only capsule hotels (a uniquely Japanese accommodation with simple capsule-like beds) with saunas and spas and internet cafes, so check them out if you are interested.
Stroll Around Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai
Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai is the longest shotengai (shopping district/street) in Japan. There are approximately 600 shops along the 2.6km street from Tenjinbashi 1-chome to 7-chome. The areas from 1-chome to 2-chome and from 5-chome to 6-chome are filled with shops selling food to take out, including popular shops for the Osaka specialty, takoyaki. The 5-chome area has many shops serving cheap and tasty sushi and there are many izakaya and bars on the side streets. There are also drugstores and shops selling Japanese items such as fans and yukata kimono, so you can purchase souvenirs. It will take about 40 minutes to walk down the street one way, so plan on about 2 hours if you want to shop.
Visit The Osaka Museum of Housing and Living
The Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, which is on Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai, is an experiential museum where you can learn about the history of Osaka and of life there. There is much to see, such as a life-size replica of a town from the latter part of the Edo Period (1830 - 1844) with mechanisms to show how it changes depending on the time of the day. A particular recommendation is the experience to wear kimono and have pictures taken. The kimono experience is available to 300 people a day on a first-come-first-serve basis, so it is better to get there in the morning.
Entrance fee (Machinami Exhibition): 600 JPY/general, 300 JPY/high school and junior high school *Additional fees for special exhibitions
Kimono-wearing experience: 500 JPY/30 minutes
Visit Osaka Tenmangu
Osaka Tenmangu, a Shinto shrine that is said to have been founded in 949, is beloved by locals as a shrine that protects the Tenman area. The deity enshrined is Sugawara Michizane, a politician and academic of the Heian Period (794 - 1185). Michizane was extremely intelligent and the shrine is thought to have benefits for academic success. As such, the shrine is frequently visited by students preparing for entrance examinations, and there are amulets specifically for academic success. The shrine is also famous for the Tenjinsai festival that has a history of more than 1,000 years and is held on July 24 and 25 annually. It is a lively festival with approximately 3,000 people clad in ancient costumes parading through the streets and more than 5,000 fireworks shot up at night.
Join the children at Kids Plaza Osaka
Kids Plaza Osaka is an experiential museum for children where they can learn about science and society through games and other experiences. Each floor is filled with a variety of corners and play rooms! For example, there is an area to try cooking, a studio to experience producing news programs, a zone to observe creatures such as fish and birds, and numerous workshops for creating things. There is a breast-feeding area, baby change area, and free stroller rentals, so people with babies are welcome.
Entrance fee: 1,400 JPY/adult (high school and older), 800 JPY/child (elementary and junior high school) , 500 JPY/toddler (age 3 and up)
See Tenjin Bridge Lit Up
Nakanoshima Park, which is on a sandbank in the river, is an urban oasis in a city of skyscrapers. The area around Tenjin Bridge at the east end of the park has a scenery that represents Osaka, the city of water. The 210.7m-long Tenjin Bridge over Okawa has a beautiful arched design. When the sun sets, it is lit up in blues and oranges presenting a wonderful scene in combination with the dazzling nightscape in the background. The fountain in the park is also lit up, as are the cherry blossoms along the river during the cherry blossom season, so it is quite a romantic scenery.
Enjoy Shopping in Umeda, at the Center of Osaka
Purchase Electronics at Yodobashi-Umeda
If you want to buy electric appliances, go to Yodobashi-Umeda in front of JR Osaka Station. You can purchase high-performance goods at great prices in Yodobashi Camera that takes up 6 floors (B2 to 4F) of this multi-purpose commercial building. Yodobashi Camera has all sorts of electric appliances and electronic goods, including kitchen appliances, audio equipment, personal computers, cameras, clocks & watches and gaming devices. There is a Tax Free counter on each floor so you can arrange to get the duty taken off immediately after purchase. There is also a currency exchange and staff who speak English and Chinese.
Shopping in Hankyu Umeda Main Store
Hankyu Umeda Main Store is the most high-end of the department stores in the Umeda area. It opened in 1929 as the world's first terminal department store and was completely renovated in 2012. It is popular as a department store that leads fashion trends and has a great representation of the highest end fashion brands. The cosmetics department, which is one of the largest in western Japan, sells all the major cosmetics brands from Japan and abroad. There is also a food floor that is particularly well known for its selection of local wagashi Japanese sweets, so it is perfect for purchasing gifts to take home. There is a service counter for foreigners on the B1F where you can sit down and take care of your Duty Free procedures, as well as interpretation services and a currency exchange machine.
Shopping in Daimaru Umeda Store
Daimaru Umeda Store is a department store in the Osaka Station City complex that centers on JR Osaka Station. It includes the fast fashion brand, Uniqlo; Pokemon Center Osaka, selling Pokemon merchandises; and Tokyu Hands, an urban DIY store selling a wide variety of items. Daimaru has both high-end brands and relatively inexpensive brands targeting young women. You can pick up special coupons (5% off) for foreigners at the information booth on the first floor and at the Tax Free counter (B2 East). There are Chinese and English interpretation services.
Shopping in Hanshin Umeda Main Store
Hanshin Umeda Main Store is a department store for the masses that maintains a close connection to the locality. It is undergoing a full renovation as of September 2018, and a portion is slated to open in June 2019, followed by a grand opening in the fall of 2020. Unlike other department stores, it focuses on stocking high quality yet accessible items for everyday use. It is highly rated among locals for the food department. Be sure to take a break from shopping to enjoy the Ikayaki (a batter of dashi stock and flour mixed with squid grilled on an iron griddle)(152 JPY and up) in the Snack Bar food court. It is a hugely popular item of which an average 8,000 are sold every day. Tax Free procedures are handled in the cloakroom on the 2nd floor. There are currency exchange services.
Shopping in Grand Front Osaka
Grand Front Osaka consists of four towers looming on the north side of JR Osaka Station. It has 266 shops including a shopping mall, restaurants and cafes and large bookstores, as well as a hotel and theater. Many of the shops are in the news for being the first branch in Kansai or the first branch of a restaurant in Japan. It is known as Japan's largest shopping town connected to an urban terminal. There are information counters with staff speaking English, Korean and Chinese, as well as a touch screen information kiosk to look up restaurants in the complex and in the Umeda area in general in the same languages. There is also a Travelex currency exchange machine.
Shopping in LUCUA 1100
LUCUA 1100 is a popular fashion building connected to JR Osaka Station. Together with LUCUA next door, it has 402 shops, making it one of Japan's largest commercial complexes in a station. It is filled with trendy shops, including ones that are the first in the country or in the Kansai area, for clothing and other fashion items and sweets, as well as restaurants. The World Zakka Marche zone on the 2nd floor is not to be missed. It has a variety of shops, including one selling jewelry handmade by designers from around the country and a shop produced by @cosme, Japan's No. 1 cosmetics and beauty site. Most of the cosmetics can be tried, and items that are ranked at the top of online rankings are available here. The staff at the information booth speak English, Korean and Chinese.
Shopping in NU Chayamachi
NU Chayamachi is a popular fashion building with the latest items and foods targeted at the trend-conscious younger generation. It has about 70 stores representing some of Japan's most famous brands, such as COMME des GARÇONS*, Onitsuka Tiger*, and Hakusan Megane, as well as URBAN RESEARCH*, a famous chain selling items from various brands. Some of them offer discounts for those presenting their passports, so be sure to check. The Tower Records store that specializes in items related to animations is also popular. With more than 10,000 items related to animation songs, including DVDs, as well as animation merchandises, it has the largest selection of any store in the Kansai Region.
*Stores that offer Tax Free services
Buy stationery at Umeda LOFT
LOFT is a national chain of stores that sell a variety of items to be used every day. The Umeda branch is popular for its wide selection of both standard and trendy items including cosmetics, interior goods and character merchandises. When at LOFT, be sure to check out its stationery goods. The lineup of products stocked by dedicated buyers includes cute and stylish items, the latest items, and unique items perfect as souvenirs, giving you so many choices you may have difficulty making a decision. There is also a variety of events, such as workshops for making original stationery, advance sales of new items and sales of limited-offer items. There is a Tax Fee counter on the 4th floor.
Events in Umeda
Experience the Cherry Blossom Passage at Japan Mint
The Cherry Blossom Passage at Osaka Mint is one of the highlights of spring in Osaka. It is a famous spot for viewing cherry blossoms that 600,000 to 700,000 people go to every year. It is a beautiful passage with approximately 250 cherry trees of 130 varieties on a 560m stretch between the South Entrance Gate (Temmabashi area) to the North Exit Gate (Sakuranomiya-bashi area) of the Mint that is only open to the public for about 1 week each year during the height of the cherry blossom season. There are some rare varieties, such as the spherical Otemari and smaller ball-shaped Kodemari, that are hard to find anywhere else. The blossoms lit up by paper lanterns in the evening are a sight not to be missed.
Usual timing: Mid-April
Have a Pint at Umeda BEER GARDEN MARCHE
Beer gardens, where you can enjoy beer outside, open only for a limited time during the summer in Japan. In Osaka, Umeda Hankyu Beer Garden Marche on the 13th floor rooftop plaza of Hankyu Umeda Main Store, which is connected to JR Osaka Station, is especially popular. This is a place to enjoy a variety of foods offered under the theme of "markets from around the world", as well as drinks including beers, wines and cocktails, in an airy setting full of greenery.
Sample pricing: Standard plan with 120-minute seating and 90-minute free drinks 3,980 JPY (incl. tax)/adult 1,600 JPY (incl. tax) elementary school age
Experience the Japanese Summer at Umeda Yukata Matsuri
Umeda Yukata Matsuri is a major summer event of Osaka. It is held in late July every year at various locations in Umeda, such as Grand Front Osaka, and is visited by many people. There is a variety of events held, such as traditional Japanese bon-odori dancing that anyone can participate in and a "uchimizu" event where everyone joins in on the traditional practice of cooling down by sprinkling water on the ground. If you are wearing a yukata kimono, you'll be able to get special services at some of the facilities. There are many yukata rental shops in the Umeda area, so take advantage of them and enjoy the Japanese summer with all of your five senses.
Umeda is an area with a concentration of shopping malls and other multi-purpose complexes. Be sure to refer to this article to think about what to see there and where to go for meals and shopping.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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