Good to Know Before You Visit! Basic Knowledge on Osaka
Traveling can be much more fun if you know the characteristics of the place you are visiting. With that, we introduce Osaka, the prefecture that lies at the heart of Kansai Region. Why not deepen your knowledge by reading this article?
What Kind of Place is Osaka?
Osaka is a major city, second only to the capital city of Tokyo. Its history goes back 1,400 years. At that time, it flourished as the center of economy and politics, and developed as the gateway to Japan from various Asian countries. Since the establishment of Japan's first capital in the mid-seventh century, Osaka has continued to thrive as the country's second major city despite multiple changes to the location of the capital. In 1583, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a warrior lord who unified the country through the Sengoku (Warring States) Period, built Osaka Castle. Thus he established the foundation of today's Osaka. The Toyotomi family was ruined in subsequent wars. The castle was burnt down and the city was devastated, but was rebuilt by the Edo Shogunate. Thanks to its numerous waterways through which products came in from all around, it became a center of economy and commerce.
Osaka has a mild climate with relatively few seasonal variations. Average temperatures are 15℃ in the spring, 28℃ in the summer, 20℃ in the fall, and 6℃ in the winter. The average annual rainfall is 1,318mm, with the rainy season (late June to late July) and typhoon season (around September) having the most rain.
It is said that people in Osaka are friendly and love to be helpful. They are easy to befriend as they tend to be comfortable talking to anyone, but are also straightforward and do not sugarcoat their words. Comedy is an important part of their culture, so people love anything that is funny. They are also characterized by having a strong love for their home town.
There are three dialects in Osaka: The Settsu-ben spoken in the northern part; the Kawachi-ben spoken in the eastern part, and the Senshu-ben spoken in the southwestern part. The three of them together constitute Osaka-ben, but people often equate Settsu-ben with Osaka-ben. Kawachi-ben and Senshu-ben tend to sound a bit harsher than Settsu-ben. Osaka-ben is spoken widely in other parts of Kanto Region, and the word "ookini", which means "thank you" ("arigatou" in standard Japanese) is known across the country. "Maido", which is an expression business people and store clerks use to greet people, is also used in Osaka and other areas of the Kanto Region. The Osaka dialect is also characterized by adding "-yanen" to the end of the sentence.
Transportation Access Guide
Access to Osaka
There are many ways of getting to Osaka, such as by the Shinkansen (bullet train), airplane, and ferries. Shin-Osaka Station is about 2.5 hours by shinkansen from Tokyo. Osaka International Airport (Itami) is about 1 hour from Haneda Airport. There are also many international flights to Kansai International Airport. Ferries from Kyushu, China, Korea and elsewhere arrive at Osaka Nanko Port.
Transportation Inside Osaka
Trains are the standard mode of transportation within Osaka Prefecture. There are many private lines in addition to various JR lines. There are also eight subway lines in the City of Osaka, where many major tourist destinations are located. Osaka's only tram runs from the southern part of Osaka City to Sakai City. There are discount tickets such as Osaka Amazing Pass, which includes unlimited rides on the subway, buses, and some private trains, so why not make use of them?
Representative Tourist Attractions
One spot you'll definitely want to visit is the iconic Osaka Castle. The Tenshukaku Tower (main building of the castle) – decorated with golden shachi (mythical carps) and fukko (seated tiger looking for prey) – is a five-layer, eight-story structure. There is a panoramic view of the city from the observatory on the eighth floor. The Kuchu Teien (Floating Garden Observatory) at Umeda Sky Building also has a fabulous view. There is a 360-degree panoramic view from 173m above ground. In addition, there is the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, which is one of the world's largest aquariums, as well as Dotonbori – a commercial district representative of Osaka – along with Universal Studios Japan, which hosts attractions based on Hollywood movies and popular comics and characters.
Must-Try Specialty Dishes
There are many specialty gourmet items in Osaka, which is often referred to as a "kuidaore-no-machi" (a city where people eat until they drop). Two particularly famous dishes are "takoyaki" and "okonomiyaki". Takoyaki is made by filling dimpled iron plates with batter and adding ingredients such as octopus and negi (scallions) to make balls of batter. Okonomiyaki is made by mixing ingredients such as cabbage with batter and frying them in rounds. Both batters are made with flour. It is common to eat them with sauces, bonito flakes and aonori (green dried seaweed). Another specialty food you'll want to try is "kushikatsu" (deep-fried skewers of battered meats and vegetables). If you really want to get the Osaka experience, go to one of the "tachinomi" (standing bars).
There are many traditional crafts in Osaka. One of the most famous is Sakai-uchi Hamono kitchen knives from Sakai City, where blacksmith techniques have been handed down for generations. Many professional chefs swear by these sharp knives. If you're looking for something you can purchase more casually, what about some unique Osaka sweets? The recommended item is the Cui-daore Taro Pudding based on the Osaka Mascot, Kuidaore Taro. It has a very playful package that will brighten up the day of anyone receiving it as a present. There are also many sweets designed to represent Osaka specialties such as okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and kushikatsu, so be sure to check them out!
*The image is of Cui-daore Taro Pudding.
Osaka has everything, from places where you can feel history to entertaining facilities and restaurants where you can enjoy great gourmet food. Its vibrancy as a city is part of its charm!
*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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