Osaka is, as I have remarked many times before, a great place to live. It’s a vibrant, colourful and charismatic city with great food, great culture and most importantly great people.
However, as one would expect with any great city, it can, at times become very noisy, crowded and the hustle and bustle can sometimes feel stifling and even a little overwhelming.
With this in mind, finding an appropriate space and time to escape from the daily madness of city life becomes a crucial element of life here if you want to endure in this massive city for the long term.
Finding places, however small and however unremarkable, where you can enjoy even just a few short minutes of respite from the non-stop chaos of an ever-moving city isn’t as difficult as you may think.
You’d be surprised at how easy it is to actually find a nice place to relax even in the very heart of the city.
So join me today as I take you on a tour of some of Osaka’s best quiet spots.
1. Utsubo Park
Strange statues at the Utsubo Park, Osaka.
Photo: Iskra Photo on FlickrWhen I lived in Tokyo, I was amazed at how many big, beautiful parks there were scattered throughout the seemingly endless urban sprawl of office buildings, shops and so on.
Osaka doesn’t have quite as strong a green/concrete balance in this regard, but Utsubo Park, right in the centre of the city certainly invokes memories of some of the larger parks in central Tokyo.
Located a few short minutes walk from Honmachi Subway Station, which is pretty much smack, bang in the centre of Osaka’s subway network, Utsubo Park has ornate fountains, wide pathways for dog walking and jogging as well as plenty of benches.
Convenience stores and cafes are also just across the street if you feel like having a latte or even a cold beer as you unwind in the park’s tranquil surroundings.
2. Grand Front Osaka’s Rooftop Garden
Grand Front - Rooftop Garden, Osaka.
Photo: Miyuki Kobayashi on FlickrJust 2 minutes walk away from JR Osaka Station and Umeda Subway Station, in the heart of Osaka’s densely-populated Umeda business district is the recently completed shopping and dining complex of Grand Front Osaka.
Now, the shopping centre itself is as busy as they come, especially on the weekends. However, if you venture up to the 8th and 9th floors you are in for a very pleasant surprise.
Both the north and south towers are blessed with stunning and tranquil rooftop gardens.
You can enjoy panoramic views of the entire Osaka Bay area as gentle pan pipe music is played out over the area’s state of the art tannoy system.
If you are fortunate enough to be out on a date with your better half then this is an excellent place to enjoy a gentle romantic stroll after dinner.
And if you are feeling like splashing the cash a little there is a very classy, though highly expensive cocktail bar on the 9th floor of the north tower.
You’ll also find a Tully’s coffee shop nearby if you’re feeling a little less flamboyant.
3. JR Osaka Station 11F
JR Osaka Station, view from the top.
Photo: Toyoky Yamaguchi on FlickrSo, what if I told you that one of the best chill-out spots in Osaka was in the same building as the city’s busiest train station? You’d probably think I’m crazy, right?
Well, if there’s one thing the Japanese do well, it is creating a little piece of order in even the most chaotic areas. Head up in the elevator from the station on the ground floor and you’ll soon reach the eleventh floor. Go forward and you’ll see a multiplex cinema.
Not exactly peace and quiet is it?
Bear with me, it’ll all make sense in a minute.
If you turn left and head out of cinema, you’ll find another ornately decorated rooftop area. There are tables and seats complete with sun-deflecting parasols to escape the summer heat, they also have long bench seating for couples who fancy having a little snuggle as they watch the sunset behind the nearby Umeda Sky Building.
In the rooftop area you’ll find a convenience store and a coffee shop selling refreshing drinks and snack foods.
If you feel like eating something a little more substantial you also have the option of going down one level to the food court on the 10th floor which offers a range of moderately priced food and drink options.
4. Diamond Point
Every day thousands of tourists and locals alike descend on the Tempozan area of Osaka’s Minato Ward to visit the Kaiyukan, Osaka’s world famous aquarium.
However, just a mere 7 to 10 minutes walk away from that seemingly endless throng of tourists is one of the most idyllic and relaxed places in the entire city.
Sunset in Osaka.
Photo: shogunangel on FlickrDiamond Point is the southernmost tip of Chikko, the island on which the Tempozan area is built. From the point you can enjoy beautiful ocean views off to the right hand-side and directly in front of you is a broad panoramic view of the Cosmosquare area, home to some of Osaka’s tallest buildings. It makes for a particularly stunning scene at sunset, when the sky turns all manner of red, orange and even purple.
If you’ve got your sea legs with you then you may also fancy taking a short cruise around the bay on the nearby Santa Maria.
5. Dojima Boardwalk
Just a 12 minute walk away from central Umeda is the area of Dojima and Nakanoshima. Here on either side of the river you will find a well-maintained and well-lit path along the riverside. There are plenty of seating options dotted along the path which runs for about a mile or so. There are cafes and other food and drink options in the daytime and in the evening it’s a great little piece of tranquility in the city centre, ideal for walking the dog or a romantic evening stroll after a dinner-date.
View of Dojima area.
Photo: BowtieDSF on Flickr
For all its insanely busy rush hour traffic and the seemingly endless trail of people getting on and off the subway every morning on my way to work, Osaka does, as I have learned have plenty of good spots to chill out. Why don’t you check them out next time you’re in town?