It is not just the second largest metropolitan area in Japan. Osaka is the commercial centre on the island of Honshu, famed for its modern architecture and traditional culture. The city’s historic attractions are well documented. But if you’re in the city for a short stop, we give you an insider’s guide into this city of delights.
Osaka is a gourmet’s paradise. But for a meal you are not likely to forget, don’t miss Soba Takama, located in Tenjibashi. This one Michelin-starred restaurant, hidden behind a windowless exterior is an experience for the palette. You could also head to the three Michelin starred Fujiya 1935 in Yariyamachi. It is only one of 104 restaurants in the world to be awarded three Michelin stars in 2013. Famous for its modern European inspired cuisine made with local ingredients, Chef Tetsuya Fujiwara’s concoctions are innovative, charming and guaranteed to wow the senses. Reservations must be made 60 days in advance and can only be booked through hotels with reference to the restaurant’s website. Another place to check out is Sushi Hachisaburo – located near the 190-year-old Kuromon Ichiba market – suggested Tetsuya Ueda, Director of Sales from Fraser Residence Nankai, Osaka. Here they serve fresh seafood daily. Tip: The best time to go is from 6pm onwards. Highly recommended is the Omakase Sashimi Moriawase (Chef’s recommendation of Sashimi), which starts from 3000 Yen (about US$24).
When it comes to shopping in Osaka, it pays to trawl the trendy neighbourhood stores for fashion deals like Shinsaibashi-Suji, the preferred shopping stretch for locals and tourists alike. The arcade is home to a number of upmarket department stalls and boutiques such as Prada, Louis Vuitton as well as traditional kimono tailors and even bookstores. But if you are on the lookout for quirky gifts, head to Doguyasuji in Namba, a covered street where a lot of restaurant supply stores are located, recommended Huang Mei Lin, General Manager from Fraser Residence Nankai, Osaka. There you will find amazing mini fake sushi, tako yaki, something unique to bring back to your loved ones at home.
A BUZZING NIGHTLIFE
A night out in Osaka can be just as fun. Like Tokyo, this town offers everything from jazz clubs to martini bars. However, it is important to remember that the nightlife in Osaka is centred on two areas. For example, the northern area that surrounds JR Umeda Station draws a slightly more adult crowd, including the after work crowd. On the other hand, the Minami (South) area -located between the Shin-Sai-bashi and Namba districts, which include part of Chuo-ku (Central Ward) – is popular with the younger set.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Despite its reputation as an urban jungle, you can still find greener pastures in Osaka. One of the best-known attractions – and most iconic green spaces – is the Osaka Castle Park, which attracts both locals and tourists all year around. Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo) was built by Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1583 on the site of a temple called Ishiyama Hongan-ji.
The castle tower is now entirely modern on the inside, with even an elevator installed for easier accessibility. On the outside, it is surrounded by secondary citadels, gates, and impressive stone walls and moats. The Nishinomaru Garden, encompassing the former “western citadel”, is a lawn garden with 600 cherry trees, a tea house, the former Osaka Guest House and nice views of the castle tower from below.
Unlike most of the rest of the castle grounds, the garden requires an admission fee. However, the entire Osaka Castle Park covers about two square kilometers with lots of green space, sport facilities, a multi-purpose arena (Osakajo Hall) and a shrine dedicated to Hideyoshi.
The park is one of Osaka’s most popular viewing spots during the cherry blossom season, which usually takes place in early April.
OASIS IN THE CITY
Namba Parks is a shopping mall that’s been described as an oasis in the city. The serpentine structure is an architectural marvel: apart from the fashionable stores, Namba Parks also includes an outdoor event space, a roof top garden, cinema complex and specialty stores. In addition to adding a visible green component in a city where nature is sparse, the sloping park also connects to the street, making it easy for passers- by to enter the cluster of rocks, cliffs, lawn, streams, waterfalls, ponds and outdoor terraces. Beneath the park, a path leads visitors to the retail, entertainment and dining venues inside the shopping centre.
If you want to see something really special, head to Namba Parks during Christmas time for the Winter Illumination “Namba Hikaritabi”: The area is transformed into a sea of neon lights and is a sight to behold.
FRASER RESIDENCE NANKAI, OSAKA
Just a walk away from the splendor of Namba Parks is Fraser Residence Nankai, Osaka. The building cuts an impressive figure with its slick architectural design. However, the interior is designed to provide an air of tranquility for you. Choose between the studio, one- or two-bedroom apartments during your stay. You can also take advantage of the full business lounge that allows you to work or meet with colleagues, business partners or friends. There are round-the-clock concierge services as well as a 24-hour fitness centre and a sauna room when you need to blow off some steam. In your rooms, you have access to cable, satellite TV and wireless broadband to keep you connected always.
But best of all, staying at Fraser Residence Nankai, Osaka also means you are only moments away from the city’s best attractions.
For more information, visit: http://osaka.frasershospitality.com/