Foodin’ it up in Osaka: Exploring Japan

Do you like unique, delicious food for cheap? Historical sites? Pokemon? Anime? A humongous aquarium with a whale shark in it?!? Then skip the line to Tokyo and head out to Osaka, just a short trip from JCMU!

Want to learn more about all of the things you can do and eat in Osaka? Then check out this short little guide below. From reconstructed castles to entire districts dedicated to food, there’s a little bit of something for everyone!

Make sure to visit these places!

Osaka Castle

2014 JCMU Summer Intensive Language students at Osaka Castle
Osaka-jo? More like Josaka-ooooohh!

While not an original castle like Hikone Castle (and really, not that anything could ever compare to our lovely Hikone Castle), Osaka Castle has been beautifully reconstructed and ready for visitors. Since it is a modern take on the castle, the inside has been designed as a museum and is equipped for accessibility: there is an elevator, air conditioning, and more within. Plus, the view over Osaka from the top of the castle is phenomenal!


Tempozan Harbor Village

Whale shark watching at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Whale shark watching at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

This area is famous for having all sorts of amazing things all in the same place – plus, it’s located right on the ocean!

Of course, the star of Tempozan Harbor Village is the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, renowned for being one of the largest aquariums in the world. It takes hours to go through the beautiful conservation, and species from all over can be found there. Coolest of all, the aquarium’s largest central tank holds enough water to house whale sharks!

Want a unique place to spend your yen? Then after you’re all fished out, head on over to the next door shopping center, where you can visit the Tempozan Legoland Discovery Center, visit a crazy assortment of shops, eat ice cream, and more.

Wanna feel like you’re floating high in the air? Before going back home then, you absolutely have to ride the Tempozan Ferris Wheel. One of the tallest Ferris Wheels in the world, you’ll be taken over 365 feet in the air and see a beautiful view of the harbor. Definitely the best place to see the sunset!


Osaka Pokemon Center

Pikachu greets you at the Pokemon Center's entrance
Choose your starter!

Who says you have to go to Johto to catch ’em all? Nearby the main Osaka Station is the official Pokemon Center of Osaka, where you can buy all sorts of merchandise only for sale there. Have fun, trainer!


Nippombashi/Den Den Town

Game centers and shops ahoy in Nippombashi!
New game: start!

Think Tokyo’s Akihabara, but in Osaka! Nippombashi is the electronics district of Osaka, complete with anime merchandise, model sets, and arcade gaming galore. Eat at a maid cafe, buy used figurines and computer equipment, and more.


Where to eat in Osaka


You have to take a picture with the Glico Man if you visit Dotonbori
Obligatory picture with the Glico Man in Dotonbori

Can you ever have too many food options? The restaurant owners in the Dotonbori strip certainly don’t think so! Walk through this popular foodie destination and feast your eyes on the beautiful sights and mouth-watering options the shops have to offer. While you’re there, you’ll also come across the world-famous Glico Man – don’t forget to snap your own picture with him!


Chow down on street food

Takoyaki street vendor in Osaka
Nothing says “oishii” like Osaka street food!

Just like in New York, vendors selling high quality street food for cheap can be found all over the city. Entire homemade dinners can be had for less than 400 yen (~$4)! While Osaka is known for a lot of different kinds of food, most street vendors create their own take on Osaka’s most famous foods: takoyaki and okonomiyaki.

  • Takoyaki

Takoyaki is a savory ball-shaped dish made with a doughy outside batter and stuffed with octopus. The dish was first made in Osaka, and while it can be found all across the country these days, there still isn’t anywhere in the world that makes it the way they do in the big Kansai city.

  • Okonomiyaki

Okonomiyaki is a savory pancake dish. Like with takoyaki, okonomiyaki was first made in Osaka. Though it can also be found elsewhere in the nation, the ways in which it’s made in Osaka is unique to the area. Think savory crepe, but even more delicious!


When most people think big cities in Japan, they think Tokyo. But we think this is a huge disservice to the amazing city of Osaka! Osaka is the third largest city in Japan by population. It takes about an 1.5 hours from Hikone Station to JR Osaka by train. If you’re at JCMU, be sure to take a day (or two or three) to check out everything the city has to offer!

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