Where to stay
- Arietta Hotel Osaka, 3-2-6 Azuchimachi, Chuo-ku; +81 6 6267 2787; www.thehotel.co.jp/en/arietta_osaka. This mid-range hotel offers clean and compact rooms, and is a mere three-minute walk from Hommachi Subway Station.
- Ark Hotel Osaka, 1-19-18 Shimanoushi, Chuo-ku; +81 6 6252 5111; www.ark-hotel.co.jp/osaka. This three-star hotel, which features a buffet-house restaurant and tea lounge, is located a five-minute walk from the Shinsaibashi shopping district.
- Cross Hotel Osaka, 2-5-15 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku; www.crosshotel.com/eng_osaka. A stylish hotel surrounded by shopping and dining options, thanks to its location at the heart of the trendy Shinsaibashi and Dotonbori districts.
- Hotel Universal Port, 1-11-111 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku; +81 6 6463 5000; www.hoteluniversalport.jp. A large, family-friendly entertainment resort right next to Universal Studios.
- The Westin Osaka, 1-1-20 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku; +81 6 6440 1111; www.westin-osaka.co.jp. The guestrooms at this upscale hotel feature marble bathrooms with separate showers and baths, and extra-large closets.
Where to eat and drink
- Bon, Dojima, Kita-ku; +81 6 6344 0400. Tuck into all sorts of grilled fare – from Kobe beef cubes to premium lobster cuts and seasonal vegetables – at this Michelin-starred kushiage restaurant.
- Creo-ru Restaurant, 1-6-4 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku. A one-stop shop for okonomiyaki (grilled savory pancakes) and takoyaki (octopus balls).
- Daiki Suisan Kaiten Sushi, 1-7-24 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku; daiki-suisan.co.jp. A typical conveyor belt sushi joint. Aside from the sushi, the fried octopus here is a must-try.
- Ikanari Steak, 1-5-23 Namba, Chuo-ku; +81 6 6210 4929. Sink your teeth into both American and Japanese cuts of meat at this standing-only restaurant (there really aren’t any seats!). You’ll get to choose the cut you want, how much you want, and how you’d like your steak done.
- Kamukura Ramen, various locations; kamukura.co.jp. This restaurant chain specializes in shoyu (soy sauce) ramen.
- Kani Doraku, 1-6-8 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku; +81 6 6211 8975. Have a crustacean feast at this iconic restaurant, which serves crabs in all forms — plain, mac & cheese, tempura-style, boiled, and more.
- Kinryu Ramen, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku; Tel: +81 6 6211 6202. This 24-hour joint serves up piping hot ramen, which you have to order via a vending machine.
- Kurumon Ichiba Market, Nipponbashi, Chuo-ku; kuromon.com. Offers everything from fresh meat and seafood, to fruits and vegetables. Tip: Buy a slab of Kobe beef and ask the stallowner to grill it on the spot for you.
- Miyoshiya, 9-17 Namba Sennichimae, Chuo-ku. Head over to Miyoshiya for the best-tasting curry udon, according to rave reviews from residents and visitors. Usually served with rich katsu curry, this spicy dish is a tasty way of warming yourself up during the winter months.
- Mizuno, 1-4-15 Dotonbori, Chuo-ku; +81 6 6212 6360. There’s always a queue at this restaurant, which is widely regarded as one of the best okonomiyaki places in town. There’s limited seating capacity, but the food more than makes up for the wait.
- Osaka Ohsho, various locations; www.osaka-ohsho.com. For freshly-made gyozas (dumplings).
- Pablo, 1/F Shinsaibashi zero one Building, 2-8-1 Shinsaibashi-suji, Chuo-ku; www.pablo3.com. For a quick snack, pop by this institution for its famous cheese tarts.
- President Chibo Daimaru Shinsaibashi, 8/F Daimaru Shinsaibashi, 1-7-1 Shinsaibashisuji, Chuo-ku; +81 6 6251 7410. Head here for teppanyaki (food cooked on an iron griddle) and okonomiyaki.
- Tajimaya, 1-3-3 Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo-ku; +81 6 6281 1129; www.tajima-ya.co.jp/english. This restaurant specializes in dry-aged Kobe Beef, one of the region’s most famous food products.
What to do
- Universal Studios Japan, 2 -1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku; +81 5 7020 0606; www.usj.co.jp. Potterheads should make a beeline for this fun-filled destination, where they can “visit” Hogwarts and Hogsmeade at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Abeno Harukas. The Harukas 300 Observatory is open every day of the year from 9am to 10pm. It costs ¥1,500 (about P720) for adults over 18, ¥1,200 (about P580) for those aged 12 to 17, ¥700 (about P340) for children from six to 11 and ¥500 (about P240) for those aged four and five. Kids aged three and under can enter for free. Once you reach the Observatory, you can purchase a ticket for Edge the Harukas — it’s not possible to book in advance. Participants must be between 145cm and 200cm in height and children must be accompanied by adults (one adult per child). The experience takes about seven minutes. abenoharukas-300.jp/observatory/edge/en
- Ameyoko. This bustling market street is known for its abundance of stores selling clothes, cosmetics, dried food, spices and more.
- Dotonbori, Chuo-ku. This buzzing street, which runs parallel to the Dotonbori canal, is lined with shops and eateries, all decked in neon lights. Don’t forget to take a picture with the famous Glico running man sign!
- Eat Osaka, 1-18-6 Ebisugashi, Naniwa-ku, +81 80 9600 2488; www.eatosaka.com. Offers cooking classes, where you’ll learn how to whip up street food like yakitori (grilled and skewered chicken) and okonomiyaki in under three hours.
- Osaka Castle, 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo-ku; +81 6 6941 3044; www.osakacastle.net. A must-visit for first-time visitors to the city. The castle, which played a major role in the unification of Japan during the sixteenth century, has since had its interiors refurbished, and currently houses an informative museum.
- Umeda Sky Building, 1-1-88 Oyodonaka, Kita-ku; +81 6 6440 3855; www.kuchu-teien.com/english. Head to the Floating Garden Observatory (which connects both towers of the Umeda Sky Building) at night for a glittering view of the city lights.
- Yodobashi Camera, 1-1 Ofukacho, Kita-ku; +81 6 4802 1010; www.yodobashi.com. Toy and tech geeks are sure to have a field day at Japan’s most famous electronics chain store. The Osaka branch rises to 12 storeys, and you can feast your eyes on the numerous types of mobile phones, computers, and tablets available for purchase here. Haggling is an excellent way to score the lowest prices, so make sure your bargaining skills are well-honed.