Together with Tokyo and Kyoto, Osaka is one of Japan's top tourist destinations. Below are six interesting facts about Osaka that will make even those who have already been there want to revisit Osaka!
Experience All of Osaka at Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai
Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai is famous for being the longest shotengai (shopping street) in Japan. Its total length is 2.6km. It is home to approximately 600 shops, including those offering Osaka dishes like takoyaki (octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes), clothing stores with super cheap and flashy clothes unique to Osaka, and shops selling various local items. Nearby, you can find the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, which recreates the landscape of Osaka from the early 1830’s. You will also find Osaka Temmangu Shrine, which is famous for hosting the deity for academics. Just by visiting this shotengai, you’re sure to fully enjoy the charms of Osaka!
Discover Fossils Around Umeda / Osaka Station!
The underground shopping complex in Osaka's central district, Umeda, actually has fossils from the Jurassic to Cretaceous periods! If you want to see them, pay attention to the walls of the shopping complex. Look carefully to find fossils like ammonite.
They are hidden in a variety of spots, such as the underground Garden Avenue, which is near HERBIS PLAZA in Nishi-Umeda, the central concourse of JR Osaka Station, and Diamor Osaka. Try to count how many you can discover while walking around!
The Current Osaka Castle is a Reconstruction
Osaka Castle is famous for having been built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the military commander who unified the whole country. However, the current castle is not actually the one that he built. Toyotomi was defeated by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the first shogun of the Edo Bakufu, at the Osaka Natsuno Jin battle in 1615. Afterwards, the original Osaka Castle was buried deep underground and Tokugawa’s version of Osaka Castle was built on top of it.
In 1665, the second castle was destroyed in a fire caused by lightning. The current castle is the third incarnation that was built to replicate the original one built by Toyotomi.
Osaka was Once the Capital of Japan
Although Kyoto and Nara are famous as former capitals of Japan, did you know that Osaka was actually the capital at one point as well? Japan's first full-scale palace, Naniwa-no-Miya Palace, was built in 650. It was the stage for political reforms aimed at establishing a centralized government.
The site of the ancient palace is to the south of the current Osaka Castle. It is maintained as a park called “Remains of Naniwa-no-Miya Palace” that has a replica of the Daigokuden, which was the palace building from which the emperor conducted the government and where inauguration ceremonies were held.
The Dotonbori Glico Sign is its Sixth Incarnation
Dotonbori is a popular tourist spot, which explains why it is always teeming with tourists. The symbol of the area is the Dotonbori Glico Sign, which is a huge billboard by Ezaki Glico, one of Japan's top snack manufacturers. The billboard has a striking image of a runner with open arms, and is a popular photo spot.
The billboard was originally put up in 1935, but the format and design has been altered over the years to match the changes in the times. The current billboard is the sixth generation that was put up in 2014. It uses 140,000 LED lights that light up the background with patterns that change every 30 minutes from sunset till midnight.
Funny is the Ultimate Compliment
The ultimate compliment for the people of Osaka, who love comedy, is "funny". Osaka is a city with a strong comedy culture, which includes rakugo (a form of traditional verbal entertainment that ends with a narrative stunt known as "ochi") and manzai (a traditional style of stand-up comedy involving two performers — a straight man (tsukkomi) and a funny man (boke)). As such, the bar for good comedy is high, resulting in many comedians training in Osaka before taking their work nationwide. So in this town, it is the ultimate honor to be recognized as "funny".
We hope this article helps you get a deeper understanding of Osaka!
*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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