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Downtown Osaka

Downtown Osaka (© SeanPavonePhoto - Fotolia.com)
Downtown Osaka at night

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Umeda 梅田

All the main railway lines have a terminal in Umeda, which makes it the de facto center of Osaka. That is the place to go shopping, with department stores such as Hankyu, Hanshin and Daimaru, as well as the immense underground shopping maze of the Umeda Whity Chikagai. It's also in Umeda that SEGA opened one of its biggest video games park in the country, Umeda Joypolis.

North-West of Osaka station, the twin tower of Umeda Sky Building are one of Osaka's most preeminent landmark. Visitors can access the top floors for free and contemplate the magnificent view on the port and city. The observation deck between the two towers requires a ¥1000 ticket, but the view isn't better than from the towers themselves.

Umeda Sky Building, Osaka (photo by Brücke-Osteuropa - CC0
Umeda Sky Building, Osaka
Dōtombori, Osaka (photo by Type specimen - CC BY 3.0
Illuminated signboards at Ebisu Bridge on the Dōtonbori Canal

Namba & Dōtombori 難波 & 道頓堀

Minami-ku (South ward) is Osaka's shopping and night-life district par excellence. The area is roughly comprised between Nankai Namba Station and Nagahori-dōri Avenue. Other key stations are Shinsaibashi and Nipponbashi (not to be confused with Nihombashi in Tokyo, written with the same kanji).

You can wander around and get lost in the streets of Amerika-Mura ("American village"), or stroll along the Dōtombori-gawa River and other shopping arcades. The area has enough shops, restaurants, pachinko parlours, cinemas, strip clubs or love hotels to keep the more entertainment hungry visitors satisfied. For high-end shopping try Takashimaya. For something quite different, have a look at Doguya-suji, a street that sells all kinds of products related to the food service industry, like cookware, knives, signboards, plastic food, or refrigerators.

The Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum will take you back in time to the age of samurai, geisha and kabuki actors through a series of wood block prints from the Edo era. It is located in front of Hōzenji Temple, between Namba station and Dōtombori.

Museums on Nakanoshima

Tucked on Nakanoshima, an island between the Dōjima River and the Tosabori River immediately south of Umeda, the National Museum of Art (国立国際美術館) is Japan's foremost museum for post-WWII artwork, with an emphasis on Japanese artists. There are also a few pre-war works by Pablo Picasso and Paul Cézanne. It is housed in an new, extravagant metalic structure designed by Architect Arata Isozaki, which opened its doors in 2004.

Right next to the National Museum of Art, the Osaka Science Museum (大阪市立科学館) opened in 1989 to mark the 100th anniversary of Osaka City. It was both the first science museum and the first planetarium in Japan. With a radius of 26.5 meters, the planetarium is also the fifth largest in the world. The museum is divided onto four floors, each with a different theme. Besides the planetarium, highlights include a Cockcroft-Walton accelerator, an Omnimax (IMAX®) theater, and pre-war electrical measuring devices.

The nearest station for both museums is Watanabebashi, on the JR Nakanoshima line or metro/subway Yotsubashi line.

At the eastern end of Nakanoshima island is another noteworthy institution, the Museum of Oriental Ceramics (東洋陶磁美術館). This stylish museum encloses over 2,700 items from China and Korea. It is acclaimed as one of the world's greatest collection of oriental ceramics, featuring two designated national treasures and 13 items of important cultural value. You can reach the museum from Naniwabashi station, on the JR Nakanoshima line, or with the metro/subway alighting at Yodoyabashi or Kitahama station.

Map of attractions in Osaka

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