Osaka Travel Guide

Osaka Travel Guide

The history of Osaka is of great significance to the country. Throughout the centuries, Japanese Emperors established their courts in Osaka. Though it wasn’t until the 16th century when Hideyoshi Toyotomi became the most powerful lord in Japan and established his presence in Osaka, that the city experienced enormous growth, becoming the administrative and commercial center of Japan. The administrative center was moved from Osaka to Tokyo in the 17th century, when Japan came under the rule of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who succeeded Hideyoshi Toyotomi.

Today, Osaka is a thriving commercial and industrial center; it is the second-largest economic center in Japan and the third-largest urban area in population. Thirty out of the top 500 corporations in the world are based here, as well as several major banks. The city also has the third-most-active stock market in the world. Osaka alone produces approximately 2% of the world’s GNP (Gross National Product).

Osaka is located on the south coast of Honshu at the mouth of the Yodo River. The main tourist destination of Kyoto is close by. Because of Osaka’s central location and easy access for shipping, rail and air traffic, it is often used as a point of entry to Japan by tourists.

LOCAL CUSTOMS

General:

It is customary in Japan upon entering a home to remove your shoes at the door (they can be left on in a Western-style building). Most places will accommodate you with a pair of house slippers. You also remove your slippers before entering a bathroom. You will be provided with a pair of special slippers only for use in the bathroom; when you leave the bathroom, don’t forget to retrieve your house slippers at the bathroom door.

The traditional way to bathe in Japan is not in a bathtub. Instead, you first sit on a low stool facing a pair of hot- and cold-water faucets or a bathpan. While sitting on your stool, you then proceed to pour the bathpan water over yourself, soaking your entire body. After you have completed rinsing yourself off and are soap-free, you go into a deep, hot tub to soak.

When greeting people, always bow before the person, and they will bow to you as well. The other person’s age, status and social connections determine how deeply he or she will bow and for how long. This is the customary meeting procedure and usually is used in place of the (Western) handshake.

The handshake is used sometimes. If you do shake hands, do not do so forcefully – the Japanese do not share the notion that strength of grip is a reflection of one’s character.

When invited to a Japanese home, take a gift such as candy for the hostess. Do not take flowers; they are not considered an appropriate gift.

Business:
Allow plenty of extra travel time when you have an appointment. The Japanese expect punctuality.

When addressing Japanese colleagues, it is best to use their family names with the honorary suffix “san.”

The Japanese do not like an aggressive approach to negotiations, and losing your temper or showing impatience when things are not moving along will invariably ruin your business deal.

Business cards are essential in Japan. It is helpful to have your cards printed in both English and Japanese. The Japanese like to be aware of exactly who they are dealing with. Japanese make a point of reading business cards; in fact, it would be considered impolite simply to put someone’s card inside your jacket pocket.

Gifts play a major role in Japanese business. It is customary to exchange gifts. It is considered good luck to give gifts in pairs, such as a double pen set. Do not give gifts in groups of four, as the Japanese word for four means death. Wrap the gift in pastel colors, but not white, as this color is associated with death.

CURRENCY

The Japanese unit of currency is the yen. There are banknotes for 500, 1000, 5000, and 10,000 yen and coins in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500.

THINGS TO KNOW

Population: 2,636,260

Primary Industries: Metallurgy, engineering, chemical, textiles, printing and foodstuff

City Code: 06

Shop Hours: Shops remain open from 10am to 7pm throughout the entire week.

Bank Hours: Banks remain open from 9am to 3pm on weekdays.

Time Zone:Japan is 14 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, 11 hours ahead of Pacific Standard Time and 9 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

Tipping: Not recommended, unless for a special service.

Restaurants: No tipping is recommended.

Hotel maids: At the best hotels, a 10 to 15 percent service charge is added to the bill in lieu of tipping.

Taxis: Tipping is not practiced. Pay only the metered fare.

WEATHER CONDITIONS

Osaka experiences slightly warmer temperatures than Tokyo in the summer and is a little cooler in the winter. The average daily maximum in January is 41°F (5°C), and in August it is 75°F (24°C). Osaka has a rainy season from mid-June to mid-July. In September, Osaka experiences a typhoon season, which is mild.

Please click on the weather icon on your left screen for the current weather condition for Osaka.

CITY ORIENTATION

As in Tokyo, Osaka is administratively divided into regions, or “ku.” The northern part of town is known as Kita-ku. This is considered the business district, with many highrise buildings and well-known department stores. Minami-ku is on the southern end of Osaka. This is where you will find entertainment areas, many restaurants and discount shopping. The Osaka Station is located in Kita-ku. However, if you are traveling from Tokyo to Osaka, your stop will be Shin-Osaka Station. This station is about 10 minutes from Osaka Station.

LOCATION

Air distances between Osaka and:
Beijing – 1,627 miles (2,619km)
Berlin – 5,480 miles (8,820km)
Hong Kong – 2,116 miles (3,407km)
London – 5,910 miles (9,500km)
Los Angeles – 5,710 miles (9,190km)
Manila – 2,183 miles (3,515km)
Melbourne – 5,050 miles (8,120km)
Montreal – 11,780 miles (18,950km)
New York – 6,900 miles (11,110km)
Rome – 6,040 miles (9,710km)
Shanghai – 1,414 miles (2,277km)
Singapore – 3,624 miles (5,835km)

SIGHTS

Kita
This area has large-scale underground shopping centers; Kita is said to represent the modern face of Osaka.
Kita-ku
Osaka
TIC: . (06)3053311

Ohatsu Tenjin Shrine
This shrine is noted as the setting of the famous story “Sonezaki Shinju” (Lover’s Suicide at Sonezaki). It is surrounded by places where visitors can eat and drink.
Located near Umeda Station
Osaka
TIC: . (06)3053311

Osaka Aquarium
One of the world’s largest aquariums, this complex opened in 1990. The aquarium features marine life from the Pacific Ocean.
Osaka
. (06)5765533

Osaka Castle
This is one of Japan’s finest castles. It offers a spectacular view of the city – if you are up to climbing to the top of the castle tower. The castle’s gardens are quite beautiful.
1-1 Osaka-jo, Higashi-ku
. (06)9413044

Sakuya Konohana Kan
This is a greenhouse – one of the largest in the world – exhibiting 15,000 plants from regions throughout the world.
Osaka
. (06)9120055

Shitennoji Temple
Founded in 593, this is considered the oldest temple in Japan. Although damaged by significant natural and man-made disasters, the temple today is completely restored to its original state.
1-1-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji-ku
. (06)7710066

Sumiyoshi-taisha Shrine
This shrine was the only historic structure to survive the Second World War. It is said to date back to 202 A.D., though today’s four main buildings were constructed in 1810.
“i” Information Center: . (06)3452189.

Temmangu Shrine
This shrine is known nationally for its “Tenjin Matsuri” Festival and is often visited by students, as the “God of Academics,” Michizane Sugawara, was enshrined here in the 9th century.
Osaka
TIC: . (06)3053311

PARKS

Expo Memorial Park
As the site of many of Osaka’s museums, this park also offers several sport facilities and a classic Japanese garden with two tea houses.
Senri, Suita-shi
. (06)8762151

Hattori Ruokuchi Park
This park offers horseback riding, tennis, and a Farmhouse Museum. There are old farmhouses on the premises that evoke images of Japan’s past.
Please call to obtain the address and directions to get there.
. (06)3456020

Nakanoshima Park
This park is on the Nakanoshima Island; it has a beautiful rose garden and is a pleasant area for taking a walk.
1-1 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku
. (06)2230055

Other popular parks in Osaka are Tennoji Park and Utsubo Park. Consult the Osaka Tourist Information Center for addresses and phone numbers of these parks.

MUSEUMS

City Museum
This museum bases its nine rooms on diverse themes, all illustrating the history and culture of the city.
Located next to Osaka Castle, a 15-minute walk northwest from Morinomiya Station (JR Loop Line)
Osaka
. (06)9417177

Osaka Japan Folk Crafts Museum
This museum has a collection of traditional Japanese craft objects.
10-5 Senri-Banpaku-Koen
Suita
. (06)8771971

The Mint Museum
This museum, which has a spectacular garden, is filled with prehistoric money, Olympic medals, and domestic and foreign currencies.
1 Temma, Kita-ku
. (06)3518509

Museum of Oriental Ceramics
This is a creative museum in which priceless antique Chinese and Korean ceramics are on display.
Behind City Hall, a 5-minute walk north from Kitahama Station (Keihan Railway and Sakai-suji Line).
Osaka
. (06)2230055

Osaka Municipal Museum of Art
This museum has two wings. One offers the ancient arts, and the other examples of modern art.
1-82 Chausuyamacho
Located in Tennoji Park, Tennoji-ku
Osaka
. (06)7714874

Panasonic Square
This is a hands on, high-tech museum featuring many types of computerized sports equipment and modern technical developments.
Twin 21 National Tower Building
2nd Floor, 2-1-61 shiromi, Higashi-ku
. (06)9492122

The Science Museum
Exhibits relate to space travel, energy, perpetual motion and general science. An 8-minute walk south of Higobashi Station (Yotsubashi Line)
. (06)4445656

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