When one thinks of romantic city breaks, the likes of Rome, Paris, and other such European capitals frequently come to mind. For others, it’s the draw of a relaxing trip to the countryside, or the white sands of a sundrenched beach that gets our romantic inclinations going.
It’s fair to say the grey, metallic metropolis of Osaka doesn’t enter most minds in this regard.
That being said however, Osaka certainly has no shortage of prime locations for a nice, romantic date, provided that you know where to look. With this in mind, I present to you today my top 3 places in Osaka for courting couples to share a romantic rendezvous.
1) Umeda Sky Building
Photo : shrk on FlickrThis is an old favourite and, if your date happens to be an Osaka native, a sure fire winner as far as impressing your companion goes.
Whilst neither the tallest nor the best located of the many skyscrapers and high rises in Osaka, there’s definitely something special, something magical about the Sky Building.
Once you reach the upper levels, besides the obligatory over-priced Osaka souvenir shop you’ll find a very relaxed, open-plan café and bar area where one can enjoy some fast food and, depending on what mood you’re in either a warm, soothing cup of tea or coffee, or perhaps a cold, crisp beer.
But of course one doesn’t take their would-be partner to one of Osaka’s tallest buildings just to have a chat and a coffee, for the main point of the day, one has to ascend to the top floor, to the Hanging Sky Garden.
This beautifully designed, open air observation deck provides 360 degree panoramic views of the entirety of Osaka City. From the Yodogawa River and Hyogo Prefecture to the West, stretching right out past the bay area and Wakayama Prefecture to the South East, and just about everything in between.
However, it is in the early evening and night time that the Sky Building really comes into its own as a place of romance.
If you can get there between 5 and 7pm, depending on the time of year, you can witness one of the most stunning sunsets you are likely to see in this region of Japan. At this time, usual Japanese shy and reserved tendencies tend to slide as couples embrace, caught up in the beauty, splendor and passion of the moment.
And once the sun goes down, it gets even better. Lights ignite around the observation deck and one can watch in awe as all the various night lights come on around the city, giving Osaka that warm familial glow this city is famous for.
2) Namba Parks
Photo : inefekt69 on FlickrWhilst this may, at first glance seem like just another bland, upmarket shopping centre, there’s a lot more to Namba Parks than meets the eye.
Across its eight levels of shops, bars and restaurants you will find items to suit all tastes and budgets. From a male perspective, and sorry if this sounds sexist ladies, we all know how much most Japanese women love window shopping, and there are few better places in Kansai to do this than at Namba Parks.
Of course variety as they say is the spice of life, and if you want to give your date an interesting and enjoyable evening, you’ll need to do more than just shopping. Thankfully, in this regard, Namba Parks has got you covered.
On the 7th and 8th floors you will find a variety of fine restaurants, again suited to all tastes and budgets, where you can treat your loved one to that special meal after a hard days shopping. After dinner, what next?
Well, at Namba Parks, you still have a couple of options, why not head up to the 8th floor to the multiplex cinema and take in a movie together. Afterwards, if time allows, theres no better way to close out a romantic evening together than with a romantic stroll around the rooftop gardens, which at certain times of the year will have various illuminations and musical performances going on. Overall a good choice for a date with a difference.
Photo : Jeff on FlickrOk, at this point I have to declare something of a vested interest because I actually live in the Tempozan district. But then again, I remain unattached so perhaps it isn’t as romantic as I think it is!
Anyway, Tempozan’s most famous attraction is the legendary Osaka Kaiyukan (Aquarium). As I said previously, many Japanese women seem to love shopping, and from my experience it seems that an equal number also love animals, especially the cute, “kawaii” types of animal you’ll find at the aquarium. Dolphins, sea lions, penguins, all absolutely adorable and guaranteed to make your date smile. If you can’t melt their heart, I’m pretty sure the baby penguins will!
Of course there is more to Tempozan than just the aquarium. There’s also one of Japan’s, indeed one of the world’s, largest ferris wheels. From the height of its rotation, one is treated to a beautiful panoramic view that on a very clear day can stretch as far south as Kobe and Awaji Island. Again, a sure fire winner, provided your date doesn’t suffer from vertigo!
Another, more recent, addition to the Tempozan area is the newly opened Legoland.
Yes, I know Lego is supposed to be for kids, but come on, we all know plenty of adults who are still into it too. And if nothing else, a stroll around the gift shop afterwards will serve as a good barometer for how far your date is willing to tolerate your “inner geek”. If they approve of your decision to spend 40,000 yen on a Star Wars Lego Death Star playset: congratulations! He or she is definitely a keeper!
There’s also no shortage of great restaurants and bars around the Tempozan area, and most can be found in the Tempozan Market Place, a shopping centre directly opposite the aquarium. Many of the restaurants there in, such as the excellent Turkish buffet, Bab-ul Hayat, will even offer a discount to customers holding a valid Kaiyukan ticket for that day.
Of course no visit to Tempozan is complete without a visit to the beautiful Diamond Point. This, the southernmost point of this small island, gives beautiful oceanic views. From there one can enjoy seeing the huge cruise ships come and go from the nearby port, as well as take in one of the best sunsets Japan has to offer.
Osaka has plenty to offer those in the mood for love. Now, if I could just find a date…