Moving or travelling to Japan can be an amazing experience. The food, the culture, the people; it’s hard not to be enchanted by this place. In this post, I’m going to focus on the city I now call home, Osaka. It’s a city that is often overshadowed by it’s bright and glittery big brother, Tokyo, yet it has plenty to offer with its cool vibe and a pride that runs deep with the locals. From the polished and upmarket area of Umeda, to the busy neon lit streets of Namba, Osaka has it all.
If it’s good food you’re looking for, say hello to the food capital of Japan! Osaka has a rich food culture that has made a real name for itself globally. With a variety of local cuisines and extremely high standards, it might come as a shock to learn that eating well here is extremely affordable.
You can find restaurants and street stalls alike selling delicious foods like takoyaki (grilled octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (a pancake like dish with vegetables and meat). For the best okonomiyaki, I recommend Fukutaro (福太郎) near Namba (see the bottom of this post for more info). You can wait up to an hour for a table, but it’s well worth it. Give the Osaka style negiyaki a go – you won’t regret it.
If deep fried goods are more your thing, you can head to the home of kushikatsu in Shinsekai where you can find battered deep fried goods with a special sauce that will send your taste buds into overdrive.
Be sure to check back at a later date because Osaka’s food deserves a post of its own.
Another great thing about Osaka is it’s location. Tourist hotspots and world famous locations are just a short distance from Osaka city.
You can easily spend a day enjoying the scenery in Kyoto, visiting the deer in Nara, or you can duck down to Kobe for some world class beef. If you feel like doing some hiking or spending the day outdoors, Mount Rokko, Mino and the UNESCO World Heritage Sites at Mount Koyo are just a train ride away.
If you’re looking to travel a little further, Tokyo, Mount Fuji and all other major spots are easily accessible from Osaka, whether you’re travelling by land or air.
Travelling within Osaka is done with ease with one of the best train and subway networks I’ve come across. After just a short time living here, I was easily able to navigate my way around the city without feeling too overwhelmed. Don’t speak Japanese? Don’t sweat it. 99% of signs throughout the stations display English. Get lost? Simply ask one of the friendly staff, or even a local, and they will generally try their very best to help.
For tickets, I recommend getting an ICOCA card, or any commuter pass for that matter. It will make your life much easier.
If you’re worried about having to be pushed on to a train to fit, don’t stress! Luckily, Osaka doesn’t have quite the hustle and bustle that Tokyo faces. Although being a major Japanese city with a population of over 2.6 million people, rush hour is quite manageable and you shouldn’t have to face a hellish commute home too often.
Shopping in Osaka is much like shopping in any major city around the world. From luxury goods and high street fashion through to smaller boutiques and local goods, Osaka will no doubt have what you’re looking for. The major upside to shopping in Osaka is convenience. Major stations like Osaka and Namba are connected to a myriad of department stores, restaurants, game centers and chain stores that allow you to shop until your heart’s content just a stones throw from your journey home.
If you’re willing to walk a little further, you’ll find a number of shopping malls and streets that are full of chain stores and local boutiques alike.
Having visited other areas in Japan, there’s something about Osaka that just draws me in. The people here are very welcoming and are known for their sense of humour. Osaka is known for it’s manzai comedians and the osaka dialect has become a big part of comedy in Japan.
Even better, there’s apparently a thing called ‘Osaka Bang’. I’ve never tried this myself, but I have seen a Japanese show on YouTube that gives it a shot. Basically, if you walk up to anyone in Osaka, put your hands in a gun position and say ‘BANG’, whoever you aim at will pretend they have been shot. I’m dying to see this one in action, but until I can confirm it’s a thing, I don’t think I have the guts to give it a go. Click here to see the video on Youtube, complete with English subtitles.
Many agree that the people of Osaka are some of the most warm and approachable in the country, and seem to be more open minded.
As a foreigner in Japan, it can often be difficult to strike up conversations, to ask for help, or to not feel out of place in general. While many may still hold a certain view of foreigners living in Japan, the people of Osaka have made myself and many others feel a little more at ease, giving rise to a large population of expats that choose to call Osaka and the Kansai area home.
So! If you’re looking to move to Japan, or simply to travel, I definitely recommend coming and exploring Osaka. It has an amazing vibe, an unbeatable food culture and people that are always up for a laugh. I will post more information on each topic more specifically in the future, so check back at a later date if you want to know more. If you have any questions, or any other Osaka based info, post a comment below! For more photos on life in Osaka, check out my Instagram, @rinnie_m.
Until next time,
Fukutaro 福太郎 – Negiyaki and Okonomiyaki
Address: 2-3-17 Sennichimae Chuo-ku Osaka Osaka
大阪府 大阪市中央区 千日前 2-3-17
How to get there: Catch the train or subway to Namba or Nipponbashi stations and you’ll be just a short walk from the restaurant