Having been one of Japan’s best kept secrets for centuries, Osaka more recently blossomed into hotspot for visitors from abroad. Going with the flow, iFly KLM Magazine visited Japan’s third-largest city. Here are the highlights of the trip in five fascinating photos.
The Nation’s Kitchen
Among the Japanese, the city of Osaka is known as “tenka no daidokoro” (the Nation’s Kitchen). This nickname dates from the Edo period, when the city was Japan’s trade centre for rice. To get the full food experience, you need to visit the bustling Dotonbori district. Neon crabs, green dragons and gigantic octopuses vie for the eye of passers-by, while the food stalls bombard the senses with an endless range of delicacies. If Osaka is the nation’s kitchen, then Dotonbori is the stove where the magic is concocted!
Octopus balls as street food
Osaka’s classic specialty is Takoyaki. These ball-shaped delicacies made of octopus (tako) are available throughout the city, but street stalls of Dotonbori are the place to go. People queue up for these tasty treats. Fortunately, it’s fun to wait, because the cooks put on a great show, producing the balls at almost inhuman speed, using skewers. Click, click, click go the skewers – and another hundred balls are ready.
America in Asia
While many American cities have Asian districts, Osaka has Americamura, a district where everything is rendered in US style, with stars and stripes everywhere, and streets full of shops selling American brands. This is where Osaka’s younger generation go to be seen. This ideal place to find the very latest in teenage fashion: pink hair, petticoats, punk outfits, lads in army fatigues with bleached spikes, and girls wearing the local version of the “French maid” costume.
Osaka’s fun park: Shinsekai
Shinsekai is another typical Osaka district. The name literally means “New World.” The district dates from 1912, with the northern part inspired by the street plan of New York, and the southern part inspired by Paris. Luna Park was the centre point of the district. The park closed down in 1923 and the district went into decline, but Shinsekai has made a strong comeback. Out in the street, cheerful cartoon-like music blares from the speakers, while the brightly decorated buildings will bring tears to your eyes. Shinsekai really is a must-see if you’re visiting Osaka!
Tranquillity at Sumiyoshi Taisha
Osaka is more than just a torrent of colour and movement. There are temples throughout the city where you can experience Japanese culture in all its authenticity. A short train trip will take you to one of Osaka’s loveliest temples, just south of Shinsekai: the Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine. This is one of Japan’s oldest shrines, dating from the year 400. Another highlight is the iconic Taikobashi Bridge, which is bright red and rises up in a steep arch to a height of 4.5 metres. It is believed that one can cleanse one’s soul by crossing the bridge.
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Photos: Iris van den Broek
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iFLy KLM Magazine is KLM’s online magazine. For the past six years, we’ve been inspiring people worldwide with exciting travel stories, video reports and surprising travel tips for both new and classic KLM destinations. Register for our newsletter to ensure that you don’t miss a thing.