Osaka is a city with a passion for food. Proclaimed to be one the world's greatest food capitals, the city hosts more than 100 Michelin-Starred restaurants.
Historically, Osaka’s nickname “tenka no daidokoro” (the nation’s kitchen) comes from its time as Japan’s rice hub during the Edo Period, but today refers more to the vast array of food options available within the city. Thanks to these plentiful choices, it is also known as “Kuidaore”, which literally means, “to ruin oneself by extravagance in food,” or “to enjoy really good food to the last bite.” The reason the food tastes so good in Osaka is perhaps because of this culture of culinary hedonism that city was built upon.
When you think of Osakan fast-food, the first thing that comes to mind is Takoyaki - balls of wheat-based batter that are cooked in special takoyaki pans, and generally filled with diced octopus. However, Osaka is known for its seasonal cuisine as well, one example of which is the gorgeous winter delicacy, Tecchiri - a fugu (blowfish) hot pot.
Set your sights on Higashiosaka City, which is home to the Hanazono Rugby Stadium - the first dedicated rugby union stadium in Japan! The stadium features dining options, including a menu unique to the city with the rugby-related menu items, named “Rugger Dining in Higashiosaka”. This has been created with “after-match party culture” in mind, which is very unique among the rugby players and fans, and makes for a comfortable atmosphere when you visit this venue. The menu features dishes such as Hanazono styled Donburi, Higashiosaka Rugby Curry Rice, and Hanazono udon noodle with Sukiyaki styled soup.
Participate in a local event for a hands-on experience with local culture! There is no better way to get to know a region than to participate in its festival, or, matsuri. These traditional festivals occur on multiple occasions, year-round in every region without fail, although they tend to be most common in autumn, in order to beckon a good harvest and pray for the wellbeing of each family in the community. There are two types of "portable shrine" festivals (mikoshi) that are typical of Osaka; the danjiri and the futon daiko. These two types of autumn festivals provide revealing insight into historical sites that are unique to Osaka.
Danjiri is a festival unique to Osaka. This harvest festival is to pray for a good autumn bounty, and is held at various places throughout Osaka Prefecture. A danjiri is a traditional Japanese wooden float that has elaborate carvings and is decorated with various ornaments. The wooden floats are made in the shape of a shrine or temple, and are pulled through the streets of a neighbourhood during festival days. These are carried by the locals wearing the traditional festival costume named Happi, who then make a procession throughout the town. When it gets dark, the festivals take on a different atmosphere, participants walk more slowly, and you will see the danjiris adorned with lanterns. If you miss the festival, no need to be worry - the Kishiwada Danjiri Kaikan in Kishiwada City is a facility where visitors can get to know the long history of this festival and experience its energy.
While "danjiri" are pulled on wheels, the futon daiko is carried. It is also a festival for the harvest, and each district has a distinctly futon daiko which has been designed in a signature style representing their district. The melody of horns and whistles combined with the synchronized chanting of the futon daiko song create and impressive display for onlookers.
Located in Higashiosaka City, Hiraoka Shrine is one of the ancient Kawachi-no-kuni province, and is was listed in Jinmyocho (shrine list) in the ancient statute book, the Engishiki. Every January 11th, the shrine holds the ritual Kayuura-shinji, in which the year's rice harvest is foretold through rice porridge with azuki beans. In autumn, it offers a gorgeous atmosphere to see the great autumn festival, featuring many floats mounted with a taiko drum.
Osaka is known for hosting the first World Expo to occur in Asia, spanning 183 days between March 15 and September 13, 1970. With the theme of "Progress and Harmony for Mankind," it brought a huge success, inviting 77 countries and about 64 million visitors. With their technology and their innovation, Japan is currently submitting a bid for Osaka to host the World Expo again in 2025.
The former venue of 1970 World Expo, the exhibition grounds have now been turned into the memorial park. The park totals approximately 260 hectares, featuring area with a Japanese garden where you can enjoy viewing seasonal flowers with green forests and large grass fields. The Expo’70 Commemorative Park holds an iconic figure of both this park and the expo, the Tower of the Sun created by the artist Taro Okamoto. Although it is now undergoing repairs, the inside of the tower will reopen to the public in March 2018. Not only offering many facilities for culture, art, sports, and recreation, the Expo Memorial Park strives to proceed the nature restoration project by planning various kinds of plants.
Osaka, an aqua metropolis where water transport has prospered since far back in history, features rivers, big and small, flowing through the central part of the city. Historically, this has let Osaka have an important role as a hub for land, sea and river-canal transportation. Now around the square-shaped water corridor, Osaka is striving to promote itself as a Aqua Metropolis Osaka by maintaining its waterfront - attracting guests by holding light displays and projections around the river walls and bridges.
Festival of the lights in Osaka features several spectacles, including “Midosuji Illumination” - a four kilometer long series of lights strung through trees along Midosuji street, as well as “Osaka Hikari-Renaissance”- showing the illumination art festival at Nakanoshima, which has been dubbed the “symbol of Aqua Metropolis Osaka”. It also hosts the Museum of Light that colours Osaka’s Nights, in cooperation with several communities which strive to for urban revitalization.