Off the Beaten Track: Osaka's 7 Most Intriguing Spots
I didn’t spend much time in Osaka, but I managed to see a few things. I even walked from Osaka Station to Tennoji in the chill of the night to save on a midnight taxi fare. Here are my top 7 wacky things to do in Osaka!
1. Grand Front Osaka
What can I say about the Grand Front... It’s HUGE, and tall, and full of glass, and modern. Admire the building, the techy shops, the wonderfully crazy pub area on the top floor and go bouldering! Where is this building? It’s right in front of the central exit of Osaka Station and there’s a cool empty space between the station and Grand Front where people sit and chill. Grand Front is a 4-building structure, with North and South towers, gardens, trees, shops and the Knowledge Capital. Head towards the North building and find a lift or escalator to the 6th Floor. You should head towards the smell of food and lingering music and that’s the pub/café area. In the corner beside the food area, is Gravity, a bouldering gym. I suppose you can burn some calories after a meal there, or you can treat yourself to some calories after a nice workout.
I’m not sure how to translate this name, it literally means ‘America Village (mura)’, but if you apply Japanese grammar, it might be ‘Village America’ instead. Now I’m confused. Anyway, if you are looking for high-end shopping, it’s all here: Prada, Louis Vuitton, you name it. With endless fashionable shops lining the streets, you’d definitely be spoilt for choice. There is even a Big Bang (Korean boyband) Café. Beware though, people tend to dress-up in this area.
Ah, Koshien, the place of baseball dreams! It is possibly the stadium to aim to get to if you play baseball in Japan.
When I dropped by on a whim one night just to get the feel of the place, some games were actually on. Other passengers started pulling out flags and memorabilia of players and teams whilst talking about their favourite game and player. And maybe I was just too caught up in the atmosphere and the beckoning lights from the stadium, but I think I did hear cheering coming from the stadium while I was still on the station platform.
If you are looking for a quiet, less crowded place to go to or to date, I think this is the place to go to. It was almost deserted around 6pm when I went on a weekday. Tenjimbashi-suji seems to be a relic of an old shopping area that may not be as popular as before, or maybe it was due to the evening hour. I went alone and I felt nice and unrushed, but also unsafe. It may also be possible that one end of this extremely long suji closes earlier than the other end, and I just happened onto the end that became deserted early.
5. Okonomiyaki at Abeton
Why have pizza when you can have pizza okonomiyaki? Those served at Abeton are thick, filling and served on a hot plate. If you sit at the counter, it’s served on the teppan that covers the entire L-shaped counter. If you sit at a table, it’s served on a huge metal okonomiyaki spatula. You get your own little spatula to eat it with too. There are many different flavours as well including pork, seafood, beef cartilage and mochi. I sat at the counter, which was a little hot, but the staff were super-duper enthusiastic about refilling my (free) glass of iced water so the heat was bearable, although I become a little bloated on water at the end.
6. Osaka Port
If you buy a metro day-pass (I’m not sure if it’s offered every weekend or if it was just a special on the day I went), you can get to anywhere you want on the map. I decided to just visit random stations on the map. After random stops for a look-around at Cosmosquare and Port Town, I stopped at Osaka port. You can see some waters from the station and the nice glow of the Ferris Wheel. I’m positive there’s more to see during the day!
And finally, Koreatown at Ikuno. I knew about this place from watching a Korean Variety Show (Superman Returns). This place sells many Korean food items ranging from (at least) 10 different kinds of fermented vegetables (kimchi, radish, cucumbers etc), Korean mochi (ddok, ddok cake, ddokboki), seaweed (gim), sushi roll (kimbab), pancakes, potato chips, red pepper paste, etc.
Enjoy your day in Osaka! (: