Osaka Prefecture proudly stretches itself across the Kansai region, a modern metropolitan area with some of the best food in Japan. In the wake of Japan opening up to foreign trade, Osaka Prefecture operated as an essential trading hub, where the boisterous capital city of Osaka still overlooks the industrial Osaka Bay to the west. Once a port town but now the third largest city in Japan, the glittering city of Osaka is like Tokyo’s rowdy younger sibling, famous for its laidback nature and slower pace of life. Far less serious than their Tokyoite counterparts, the people of Osaka harbor a widespread love for comedy shows performed in the Kansai dialect, matched with a wild party culture that seems to never sleep. Osaka Prefecture is also the center of the Osaka-Kyoto-Kobe regional trifecta, collectively known as the Keihanshin metropolis area.
As the capital of Kansai, Osaka is proudly attributed with the creation of two classic Japanese food favorites: okonomiyaki (savory Japanese pancake, “grilled as you like it”) and takoyaki ( molten balls of batter filled with octopus pieces and topped with savory-sweet sauce). Lovingly nicknamed the “Nation’s Kitchen,” Osaka has a loud reputation for high-quality food and so much of it. The region’s obsession with food fuels the local motto, kuidaore, meaning (and encouraging) “to eat yourself into ruin.” You’re spoilt for choice with street food on every corner (kushikatsu deep-fried skewers is a must-try) and izakayas offering all-you-can-eat dining; let alone the number of high-class restaurants serving fresh fugu (pufferfish) and premium wagyu beef. Osaka Castle lies in the heart of the city, while the colorful characters of Universal Studios live on the city’s outskirts, plus all kinds of business, shopping, and nightlife from Namba to Shinsekai, with pockets in-between and beyond.
Dotonbori is every food lover's paradise, offering numerous bars and izakaya and different dishes to try. Universal Studios Japan is another popular place for tourists, who come from around the world to take part in thrilling rides. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a major attraction at USJ.
Osaka has many places to see cherry blossoms. We have narrowed it down to the top spots with our guide, Where to See Cherry Blossoms in Osaka. Depending on when the cherry blossoms bloom, The Expo ’70 Commemorative Park has over 5,000 cherry blossom trees, making it easy to find a spot and view. Osaka Water Taxi offers a ride down the river to see the cherry blossoms. If you take this route, you also can glimpse the Osaka Mint and Osaka Castle while riding downriver.
Love Japanese snacks? The luxury version of HAPPY Turn’s rice cracker, only available in Osaka, is the souvenir for you. HAPPY Turn’s are sold all over Japan, but these ones in particular can only be purchased in Osaka. Kuidaore Taro souvenirs are another option, featuring images of a puppet dressed in a clown outfit, one of Osaka’s mascots. Try the Kuiadore Taro pudding, which comes with little Kuidaore Taro hats that you can keep long after the pudding is gone.