Food, glorious food. In the land of things delicious, Osaka leads the pack. Nicknamed “Japan’s kitchen”, you’ll never go hungry in the city, whether you’re craving street stalls, hole-in-the-wall joints or Michelin-starred fine diners. Its charms are hidden among a jumble of narrow lanes and urban architecture, but like so much of Japan, it’s a case of seek, and you shall find plenty of treasure..
Reserve Now (日本語) Reserve Now
Move over to Tsukiji, Osaka has the Central Fish Market part of a larger wholesale complex that’s the bustling produce heart of this foodobsessed city. You could get there at dawn to watch the tuna auctions, or just go for a fishy brekky at Endo Sushi which has been serving it fresh and raw for more than a 100 years.
If the queue is insane, head to one of the other seafood joints nearby. Once you’re fished out, make tracks to Nobeha no Yu Tsuruhashi for a soothing onsen experience a short train ride from central Osaka. With its indoor and outdoor hot spring baths surrounded by nature, plus saunas, massage services and relaxation rooms, you could easily spend hours here.
contemporary local artists
When lunch calls, pootle back to the city centre for Osaka’s quintessential dish – okonomiyaki – at cheap and cheerful Kiji. Think of a cross between a savoury pancake and bubble and squeak. Next on your list is contemporary art Gallery Yamaguchi kunstbau which shows plenty of local artists, and was responsible for bringing American minimalist big guns such as Donald Judd and Dan Flavin to Japan.
INDIE and chic
Less commercial, more indie is the oasis-like Gallery Yolcha the opposite of a big white cube. Score affordably chic jewellery at Soierie and fashion-forward Japanese clothing and accessories at FFC then stroll and people watch along happening Orange Street lined with furniture and fashion boutiques and cafes.
Charm of Osaka
Pay a visit to Hozenji Temple in the early evening, when the stone path to this charming hidden sanctuary lights up with lanterns. The narrow, atmospheric streets around the temple are also lined with local eateries and bars and are worth a wander. Osaka is home to terrific Japanese whisky, so make a pilgrimage to Suntory Whisky House a bar and education centre from the distiller of brands such as Yamazaki, Hibiki and Hakushu, and sip a snifter or three of this revered liquid gold. Get your concierge to secure you a table at teeny Ayamuya for grilled chicken skewers and chicken sashimi at the city’s only Michelinstarred yakitori joint, or if romance matters more, try TOP30 where the meat cooked on a lava stone slab comes with sky-high city views. Party peeps can boogie on down to Maharaja Minami to dance the night away, and night owls should seek out Bar Agechin where friendly Englishspeaking staff will take care of you until the 5am closing time.