The down-to-earth folk of Osaka have a great word to describe their philosophy on life – kuidaore – which loosely translates as ‘eating yourself into bankruptcy’. With the abundance of delicious but (for the most part) inexpensive cuisine on offer in Japan’s second city, you could certainly give it a go. Osaka is famed for it’s filling comfort food, such as okonomiyaki – a savoury pancake with any number of toppings thrown in the mix (earning it the epithet of ‘Japanese pizza’) – or takoyaki – grilled balls of batter with octopus in the middle. Busting areas of the city, such as Shinsekai and the Namba district, are ideal places to feast your eyes and fill your belly.
The insomnia-friendly Dotonbori is one of Osaka’s most prominent thoroughfares, a sleepless street in the Minami area, where you can eat, drink and be dazzled by neon. With hundreds of places to dine, nearby traditional theatres and a plethora of modern shopping, it’s easy to see why this is a popular place to visit, day or night.
If you are travelling to Japan with children – or if you’re still a big kid at heart – Osaka should definitely be factored in to your travels plans. Universal Studios Japan occupies a commanding position in the Osaka Bay area, across the water from the equally fantastic Kaiyukan Aquarium and the gargantuan Tempozan Ferris Wheel. In the north of the city-centre you can dress up like a samurai in the reconstructed Osaka Castle, and stroll around the park that surrounds it – the perfect place to view the cherry blossoms in the spring.
Once you’ve savoured everything you can in Osaka, it’s a quick hop to neighbouring Kyoto, or elsewhere in the Kansai region, such as Nara, Himeji and Kobe. Assuming you didn’t spend your life savings on food, of course.