Six Sights: Namba, Osaka

‘Osaka is a port city location on the Japanese Island of Honshu’

Famous for its nightlife and fabulous street food, it’s also a centre for history and architecture, meaning that the buzzing Namba district of popular with tourists and locals alike. These are six sights not be missed when visiting the area:

Tonbori River Walk:

This promenade by the banks of the Dontonborigawa is a very popular spot and is full of fantastic sights and smells. This is one of the top spot for local street food, as well as having more than 30 stores facing the river, providing lots of shopping opportunities. The river walk is often crowded, but spectacular when lit up at night, when its neon lights reflect off the surface of the water. Keep your eye out for the massive Ferris wheel at Don Quijote store, and grab some authentic Japanese food on your visit. A visit to the river walk can be combined with a wander along Shinsaibashi shopping street.

river

Namba Hips:

This iconic building was constructed to include the shape of an exclamation mark and houses a huge range of shops, bars, restaurants, spas and sports facilities. In true Japanese style, it also has a big-tech gaming centre and plenty of karaoke opportunities.

The area has a real atmosphere, and you don’t have to be a fan of gaming or singing to keep yourself amused here. If nothing else, the building itself is enough to merit a visit. There are ten stories above the basement, so it’s hard to run out of things to see and do.

Namba Yasaka Shrine:

This once rambling shrine has seen hard times, both from fire damage and air raids. Today, it stands proud, with a glorious 12 meter high lion’s head (I thought it was a dragon, but I live in Wales, so *everything* looks like a dragon to me…). It’s not known for sure just how long the shrine has been standing, but it’s estimated that it’s been present since at least 1069. The large mouth of the lion is there to much up evil spirits and many people believe that entering the mouth will bring good luck. This doesn’t work with real ones, so please don’t do that.

Hozen-ji Yokocho:

It’s highly unusual for a place like this to exist in a country that’s as cutting edge as Japan. This street feels so out of place as, while the rest of the local area is pretty much bang up to date, walking along this narrow road transports you away from the neon lights and upscale shopping just a few meters away. It’s like taking a trip back in time and it’s amazing that such a serene street exists in the middle of the surrounding madness. Here, you can worship the deity Fudo-myo and pour water over his mossy statue in order to receive blessings.

Kuromon Ichiba Market:

Home to one of the main markets in Osaka, Kuronmon Ichiba has been established for more that 170 years and preserves the culinary history of the island. Locals flock to the market to stock up on fresh fish, meats and vegetables, as the market is well known for being of such a high quality that it attracts wholesale buyers from even the most exclusive local restaurants.

It’s not just food that’s on offer here. You can also find shoes, clothing and, of course, electrical goods. There’s a lot of street good here, so it’s the perfect place to try out the famous Takoyaki, which is a traditional wheat snack filled with meat or fish and cooked in a specially moulded pan.

glico

Dotonbori:

If you fancy yourself as a foodie or, even if you just like food, this is the place to be. Running from the Nipponbashi Bridge to the Dotonboribashi Bridge, this space is consistently voted the top sight on the island. The iconic Glico Man neon sign stands proudly as a symbol of the area and is the location for more selfies that you can count. Other notable oddities include a massive crab with moving legs, known as the Kani Doraku (measuring around 6ft tall), and the equally quirky Kuidaore Taro figure, who play the drums and looks very much like a geeky white man. And if all that wasn’t enough for you, there’s also a gigantic lantern in the shape of a blowfish. The food along the river in incredible and you could eat in a different place every night and never be bored.

What are your favourite sights in Osaka?

Suz x

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