A July 2001 trip
to Osaka by michaelhudson
Quote: To many, Osaka is but a poor relation to the glitter of Tokyo or the culture of nearby Kyoto and Nara. But there is more to this city than meets the eye.
The other notable sights in the area are Tennoji Park, Festival Gate, and Tsutenkaku Tower. Tennoji Park contains a decent zoo(admission 500 yen) and an excellent, circular Japanese-style garden called Keitaku-en. I'd highly recommend the latter, which has an entrance directly opposite the north entrance to Tennoji Station. Also in the park are an Art Museum and a European-style garden with fountains and flower sculptures.
Nippombashi Den Den Town, Osaka's answer to Tokyo's Akihabara district, is a shopping street of over 300 stores specializing in cut-price electronic appliances. Take the subway to Ebisucho station (on the Sukaisuji line). Exits 1A and 1B will drop you slap bang in the middle of the area.
Osaka Castle is another reproduction well worth seeing.
Two good pubs I found were Tin's Hall (next to Tennoji Station, check out their web site here for directions) and the Pig & Whistle, a British pub with bars in Umeda, which is next to Higashi Umeda station and adjacent to the Sinsaibashi subway station.
The subway itself is an excellent way of getting around, with a one day ticket costing 850 yen. The 'Subway Lines in Osaka' leaflet, which is available at all tourist information centers, explains how to purchase tickets and details the location of the button offering English-language guidance. The machines are also useful for getting large denomination notes changed as some give change of 10000 yen.
My single room was about 3 x 6 metres in size and contained a single mattress in the middle of the floor, a small fridge, a color TV, a wall-mounted air-conditioning unit, and two coat hangers hanging from hooks on the wall. No meals are served but there are some vending machines in the small lobby containing beverages, snacks, and noodles. Hot water is available from reception and there are two 24 hour convenience stores in the immediate vicinity.
While the Chuo is cheap and in an excellent location there are a few drawbacks to staying here. The doors close at 11:30 pm, there isn't a great deal of English spoken, and showers can only be taken from 4 - 7:30pm and 9:40 - 10:40pm(men) and 8pm - 9:30pm(women). This last point isn't as bad as it sounds as the twin rooms have private facilities and the communal baths are not so much showers as Korean-style public baths encompassing a large, square tub of hot water with shower cubicles attached. That said, it still wasn't much fun trying to wash myself over the sink in the communal bathroom at 7:30 the next morning.
You can reach the Chuo by taking a JR train to Shin-Imamiya Station, which is on a direct line from Kansai Airport. Come out of the East exit, cross at the Zebra crossing immediately in front of you and the hotel is just up the street on the left. Alternatively, take the subway to Dobutsuen-Mae Station, which is on both the Midosuji and Sakaisuji lines. Come out of Exit 3, turn over your right shoulder and the hotel is about 20 metres up the street.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on September 11, 2002
Business Hotel Chuo
Attraction | "Osaka Castle"
The area around the castle has a number of minor landmarks. Skip the souvenir stands at the foot of the tower and continue past the castle entrance to a mock-Arthurian style building - which houses the City Museum. Following the road to the right you'll come to the Hokoku-Jinja Shrine and the Syudokan, where martial arts demonstrations take place. You could then continue on to the ruins of Naniwa Palace, the site of Japan's oldest capital, by following the signs for the Osaka Peace Centre, though the remains would probably disappoint all but the most avid of Japanese history buffs.
The nearest underground station is Osaka Business Park. Leave by exit 4, continue past McDonald's and the MBS Theatre and cross the bridge. Continue on past Osaka-jo Hall until you reach the castle moat, turn right and cross the little bridge about 50 metres away.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 9, 2004
Osaka Castle Park
+81 (0)6 6941 3044
Dissected by a four lane road, the two sides of the street form a chaotic vertical jumble of multicolored shop signs, flashing neon and flapping banners, soundtracked by a hundred different advertising jingles, in-store broadcasts and the constant hum of traffic. The sheer array of choice is overwhelming at first - everything from DVDs, computer hardware, plasma screen TVs and games to security equipment, used goods, manga comics, machine tools and, this being Japan, open fronted shops selling pornographic videos.
Prices, while not always amazingly low, were very competitive, though it definitely pays both to haggle and to shop around in Den Den Town, as prices seemed to vary significantly from one shop to the next. A number of the shops, notably the several branches of Ninomiya, also offer tax-free deals to foreigners on production of your passport.
To get to Den Den Town, take the Sukaisuji underground line to Ebisucho station. Exits 1A and 1B both lead directly to the street itself. Namba and Nipponbashi stations are also within walking distance.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 10, 2004
Den Den Town
Tennoji Zoo takes up around a quarter of the total area of the park. Although it has the empty, slightly run-down feel of a provincial zoo reliant on school groups and passing tourists, it’s mildly entertaining for an hour or so, with almost 400 animals and lots of places to escape the heat and dust of the city.
The interior of the park is, to be blunt, a little shabby. Dirt tracks and trampled grass skirt a central lake, cutting through overgrown trees and bushes. It’s a nice enough escape from the bustling city outside, but you can’t quite shake the feeling that a little too much life has been shut out by the high metal fences and walls that surround the place. An interesting stop-off point between the far more interesting Shitenno-ji Temple and the grubby Shinsekai district at the foot of Tsutenkaku Tower, but not somewhere that I’d recommend going out of your way for unless you have far more time than money to spend.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 10, 2004
+81 (0)6 6771 8401
The layout of the temple, which has remained unchanged since its founding, was highly reminiscent of temples I’d previously seen in Korea; a walled courtyard dominated by a five storey green and red pagoda which fronts the Main Hall. Dating back to the sixth century, Shitennoji Temple is reputed to be the first state sponsored Buddhist temple in the entire country. A 13th-century torri gate stands at the entrance, a sloping construction usually found in Shinto shrines, framing a curving temple building with upturned rectangular ends and a mountain peak shaped roof entrance. The torri gate is the oldest extant structure in the temple grounds, most of the original wooden structures having been rebuilt eight times, most recently with modern materials following their destruction in WWII.
The layout of the temple, which has remained unchanged since its founding, was highly reminiscent of temples I’d previously seen in Korea; a walled courtyard dominated by a five storey green and red pagoda which fronts the Main Hall. Round the back is a turtle pond overlooked by leaning pine trees, a shrine dotted with statues dressed in children’s clothes (apparently a plea for forgiveness from women who have had abortions), and outlying buildings across grounds of newly raked gravel, formed into perfectly straight lines that stretch for 50m between one wall and the next. Although it may pale in comparison to the more famous temples in nearby Kyoto and Nara, Shitennoji is undoubtedly the most impressive of its kind in Osaka.
Entrance to the temple grounds is free but there is a charge of 200 yen for the Treasure Hall. The easiest way to get to Shitennoji is by taking the underground to Shitennoji-mae station. Leave via the south exit, cross to the left side of the road, and take the small street that veers off at an angle away from the station. Alternatively, you could combine a visit to the temple with a trip to Tennoji Park by walking from Tennoji station, which takes about twenty minutes from the north exit.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 11, 2004
Jarrow, Tyne & Wear, United Kingdom