Osaka The Crown Jewel of Eastern Japan

It's a friendly rivalry to be sure, but a rivalry nonetheless. Tokyo is bigger, and some say better than Osaka. Tokyo is Japan's best known city, and the undisputed King of the Kanto area of Eastern Japan.

Osaka, lies to the west in an area known as Kansai. “Osaka-ben” is the local Japanese dialect, although everyone in Japan can understand and speak “Tokyo Japanese” which is the national standard.

Where to Stay

Stay on OsakaVisitors to Osaka will be welcomed at a variety of establishments. From the traditional “ryokan” or Japanese inn to the most modern 5-star hotel whose tower scrapes the sky. If you are really lucky, you will have the opportunity to experience an “onsen”.

Some may seem outrageously expensive given that you can't order from a menu, and you have to bathe communally. And naked. However, as the MasterCard Marketing team likes to remind us, some things are priceless. High-end onsen are expensive, but a one- of-a-kind glimpse into the Japanese tradition of superb hospitality. These are special places where one appreciates quality over quantity and price is not discussed. Onsen are built over natural, ancient hot springs. The Chefs usually decide the menu based on the season and the region where the onsen is located. No bathing suits are allowed and make sure you don't get soap in the water!

“Kuiadore” To Eat Until One is Bankruped

It's said that “in Tokyo, they shop; in Osaka they eat” You'll find traditional Japanese favourites here, but the local specialities are definitely worth sampling.


Sushi

Fine sushi restaurants fill the city. Some specialities of the region include “box sushi”. This sushi is formed in a special wooden box as opposed to a roll. Often the dish makes use of marinated mackerel and fresh herbs. Tuna is a favourite sushi topping as it is everywhere. In winter, fugu (poisonous puffer fish) are served as sushi and in hot pots. Would you dare?


Okonomiyaki

The name means “cook what you like” Diners can select their favourite ingredients, usually including pork, seafood, shredded cabbage and other veggies. A batter is added and a savoury “pancake” is made on a flat griddle. Sometimes called “Japanese pizza” in North American Japanese restaurants. Please avoid smoking and use E Sigaret Kopen inside hotels.


Takoyaki

Round dumplings made with tako (octopus), green onion, batter and garnished with dried flakes of tuna and a sweet and savoury sauce. The best place to sample them is at one of the many street stalls that specialize in tasty takoyaki.

Shrines, Temples and Cultural Treasures

japan Cultural TreasuresThe two dominant religions or beliefs systems in Japan are Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto is the indigenous belief system that incorporates, native Gods, demons and spirits into everyday life.

Buddhism is, well; Buddhism. Buddha , the enlightened, achieved nirvana (heaven) by overcoming his desires for pretty much everything. His millions of followers hope to follow in his footsteps. Over the centuries the two have formed a uniquely Japanese system of beliefs and code of moral conduct.

Osaka is home to many famous Buddhist temples. The oldest temple in Japan “Shitennoji Temple”, is located in Osaka and draws thousands of tourists every week. The temple is peaceful oasis in the controlled chaos of downtown Osaka. Visitors can climb to the top of the inner 5-story pagoda for spectacular views.

Shinto shrines can be found throughout the city as well. They are easy to spot as they almost always feature tall red gates at the entrance. Famous shrines in Osaka include the Hokoku Shrine conveniently located inside the Osaka Castle Park. “Inari” is the fox God in the Shinto faith and has an Osaka shrine dedicated to him/her as well. It's called Tamatsukuri Inari Shrine and it's a tourist favourites.

Night Life Naughty; Night Life Nice!

Several districts of the city are home a mind-boggling array of bars, discos, karaoke lounges and much,much more! Izakaya are “Japanese pubs” and an afterwork gathering place to let off a little steam with the colleagues. They are affordable, fun and a good place to meet Japanese. You can always use a mobile tracker like Handynummer Orten if you get lost.

Karaoke bars, disco clubs and every other kind of drinking establishment can be found. The best night neighbourhoods include Namba and Umeda. Both are home to pubs where English-speaking staff are available, and both have their own “Hard Rock Cafe”.

“Hostess Bars” employ many a western woman looking to make some extra cash while not teaching English. They operate on the principle that Japanese executives are eager to improve their English-speaking skills and understanding of western customs and culture. So many Japanese companies have no problem with senior executives who include hostess bar charges on their expense accounts.

It's all very above board. The ladies pour the gentlemen drinks, laugh at their jokes, sympathize with the overwhelming demands that they face at work and so on. The men practice their English, flirt, get drunk and then stumble home to their wives.

Very, very few non-Japanese are ever invited to a hostess bar. But you may meet some western women working in the bars who can tell you some hilarious stories!

Whatever happens, and wherever your trip to Osaka takes you, you will not be disappointed. Japan is a safe, divers country that welcomes millions of tourists across it's borders every year. “Ikiimasho!” Let's go!