Osaka Prefecture – Industrious and Spirited
Osaka prefecture is renowned for its spirit and fine food. It’s one of Japan’s two urban (府) prefectures with 33 cities.
Shaped like a glorious crescent moon, Osaka Prefecture (大阪府) in Kansai Region, is regarded as an economic authority the world over. With a financial capacity and work-ethic comparable to Tokyo, you may have been asked the question “Osaka or Tokyo”? But to compare these prefectures on this level would be lazy of us – – Osaka-fu has its own distinct culture and vibrancy.
Osaka Prefecture’s capital, Osaka City (大阪市), is often labelled as “Japan’s Kitchen” or “Kuidaore”, which literally means “eat till you drop”. And hence, cuisine is one of Osaka’s assets. Food is, after all, a key to the heart! That being said, Osaka has much more to offer its residents and its visitors – but with local specialities such as okonomoyaki, and takoyaki, we may as well indulge too…
Osaka City Highlights
The best of Osakan nightlife can be found in two of the two major city centres: the South District (南) – also called Namba (難波) and the North District (北). In spite of Osaka’s conscientious work attitude though, this city has a vigorous spirit! Whether it be on a school night or on New Year’s Eve – when countless party-goers brave the cold by plunging into Nambas’ infamous Dotonbori Canal – there is something for every night owl in Osaka.
Both 南 and 北 offer an abundance of restaurants, cafés, arcades, bars, shops and karaoke joints. One of Kita’s most prominent attractions is the Umeda Sky Building (梅田スカイビル). Essentially two buildings in one, this impressive structure consists of two 173-meter-high towers connected with a floating observatory. One of Osaka’s most popular events, Osaka Weihnachtsmarkt (German Christmas Market), is held here at year end. Their glühwein (mulled wine) comes highly recommended!
Osaka Bay in the south-west offers family favourites Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan and Universal Studios Osaka. With 15 large fish tanks and around 600 different species, Osaka Aquarium Kaiyakun is regarded as one of the world’s best aquariums. Whilst just around the corner, a full day of movie-themed fun awaits those who visit Universal Studios Osaka. This renowned amusement park was Asia’s first Universal Studios when it opened back in 2001 and has everything from Terminator 2 to Hello Kitty.
The most popular site in Osaka though has to be Osaka Castle (大阪城) and its 15-acre grounds which remains not only an icon for Osaka – but also Japan.
Osakan Food Innovation
The industriousness of Osakans is clear when we take a look at just a few of their food-related creations.
For starters, two leading beverage brands, Asahi and Suntory, were both founded in the 19th century in Osaka. And if you’ve been in Japan for more than one day, then you have probably seen a Suntory vending machine perched on the corner of a seemingly inconspicuous street corner or car park. Or if not, you must have done a double-take at a restaurant when you realised that the displayed food was in fact made of plastic. Funnily enough, these life-like plastic models were actually popularised by another Osaka-based company called Iwasaki.
If you’re interested in getting up-close and personal with Osaka’s culinary creations, you can visit the the Suntory distillery in Yamazaki, the Asahi Brewery in Suita or the Instant Ramen Museum in Ikeda (yes, Osaka created instant ramen too)!
Outside of Osaka City
Osaka Prefecture was Japan’s smallest until an artificial island was constructed for Kansai Airport in 1994. Nevertheless, there are still many scenic places outside of 大阪市 worth exploring. A popular leisure retreat in the north is Hattori Ryokuchi (服部緑地公園), a vast park which boasts 10 ponds, a pine forest and sporting facilities.
Towards the bottom of the prefecture, next to Kansai’s most popular mountain (Mount Kongo), is Chihaya Akasaka Mura (千早赤阪村). The Osaka Tourism and Convention Bureau describe this village as “famous for being as beautiful as a picture book” due to its captivating forests, rice terraces and farm houses.
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