Osaka: Bright Lights, Big City

Osaka is just a 560 Yen special rapid train from Kyoto.  Trust me.  This is the cheapest and fastest way to get there.  The Shinkansen will take you there in about 15 minutes but will cost you about 1,200 Yen for a non-reserved seat.

From Kyoto Station, there are 2 limited express trains that I know of:  the Himeji and Banshuako.  Either will just take 28 minutes to arrive at Osaka Station.  One rookie mistake I made on my first trip there was panicking when I heard the PA system shout “Shin-Osaka.”  It is also nice there but that is not the Osaka that is famous.  You would want to get off at Osaka.

It’s only about 80kms. away from Kyoto but this city is very different.  Compared to Kyoto’s calm, this city is livelier, brighter, and wilder.  Any adjective in the comparative degree would sufficiently describe Osaka.

The city is a shopper’s paradise and comes very close to Tokyo’s Shibuya and Harajuku.  There are also a lot of sights to see there.  One of the is Osaka Castle.  From Osaka Station, just board the JR Osaka Loop Line and get off at Osakajokoen (160 Yen).

When you get off, cross to the other side.  Walk straight ahead and you should be seeing something like this.

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To people complaining about the lack of English directions in Japan, the government has stepped up its efforts in solving that problem.  Grammar might be funny at times, but as long as they are pointing people to the right directions, be a happy camper. 

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Yeap, that’s Osaka Castle from behind.  Take note that this is coming from behind Osaka Castle.  Worry not for there’s a bridge!  I think this route is much better for photography since there are fewer tourists.
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View from the front entrance.
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This is what you get at the top!  It might get crowded so it is best to take the stairs than the elevator.  Lines can be quite long. Plus you get to see a lot of historical artifacts on the way up!

Saw a wonderful collection of Samurai on the 3rd floor.

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Going around should take about an hour or two depending on your pace.  Retrace your steps to Osakajokoen and head back to Umeda.

Getting to Umeda Sky Building is very easy because it is so visible from Osaka Station.  Just look for the largest structure you can find.  Once you see it, just head for it. The place has a viewing deck that offers fantastic views of Osaka.  It has a few restaurants inside as well.  Admission is 800 Yen plus an additional 700 Yen if you want to visit the viewing deck.

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The view from below was breathtaking.

It was so nice that I had to take a time lapse.

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That’s all of Osaka and Shin-Osaka ( I think) right there.

After this, just head back to Osaka Station and hop on the subway to Namba.  Here you should be able to unleash the power of your credit card to shop.  Almost all the restaurants I tried here are amazing.  Ichiran is one of them and they serve one of the best ramen bowls in Osaka.

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Dotonbori Canal at night.  I’ve heard that locals jump off the bridges here during New Year’s eve.  Maybe I’ll try next year. 

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This is a shot of Dotonbori when I visited during the holidays last year.  A beautiful and utter disregard for energy consumption.  

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Not a month goes by without me visiting Osaka.  What I find funny is that I always forget to take pictures.  Maybe because I’m always lining up for food, sneakers, or looking at cars.

I’ll just blog away after my next visit.