When discussing Osaka, the conversation typically revolves around its rich culinary culture. While dishes like okonomiyaki and takoyaki have earned global fame, it’s important to understand that Osaka is more than just a culinary destination. This sprawling metropolis is more than just its gastronomy; it has the ambiance of an easygoing European coastal city.
Osaka exudes an openness and a slower pace compared to Tokyo, its larger sibling. Beyond the well-trodden tourist path that leads to Osaka Castle, Kuromon Ichiba Market, and Universal Studios, there’s another delightful way to experience the real Osaka – by diving into its diverse neighborhoods.
Fukushima – Best for Eating Out
Osaka’s unique dining culture is a core element of its identity. Locals have a saying, ‘Osaka no kuidaore,’ which roughly translates to ‘Eat the Osaka way until you fall into debt’! Kuromon Ichiba Market attracts food-curious visitors, while the Fukushima neighborhood is just one stop west of Osaka Station.
Try Josho New Street, which is lined with neighborhood izakayas (informal bars). Two standout establishments on this street are Moeyo Mensuke, renowned for its duck ramen, and Izumo Unagi, a freshwater eel specialist known for its diverse eel dishes.
Shinsaibashisuji – Best for Bars
Shinsaibashisuji offers an abundance of meticulously crafted beverages per square meter—including a vibrant hub of mixology and experiential bars.
Leading the pack is Bible Club Osaka, a speakeasy-inspired bar with a carefully designed interior that transports patrons to the US during prohibition times. Their menu features original and classic beverages with a twist.
Nakazakicho – Best for Wandering
Often referred to as Osaka’s ‘hipster’ district, Nakazakicho is perfect for aimless exploration. Salon de Amanto, a serene cafe that is buried behind thick walls of vines, acts as a community center and offers fair-trade Filipino coffee.
Another cafe, Gallery Arabiq, is a favorite among visitors for its library and signature frothy coffee sprinkled with colorful toppings.
Minamihorie – Best for Shopping
While Japanese pop-culture fashion thrives in Amerikamura, known as Osaka’s ‘American Village,’ the city’s boutique fashion scene finds its home in Minamihorie.
This neighborhood is a haven for shoppers, even if you’re merely window shopping. Studio d’Artisan is your go-to for high-quality denim clothing, while Achroma offers high-end Osakan streetwear. Minamihorie also hosts a cluster of classical record stores on the upper floors of buildings.