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Port Review: Osaka, Japan

Joanna Hall

A large port city and commercial centre on the Japanese island of Honshu, Osaka is famous for its modern architecture, nightlife and hearty street food. And it’s a growing destination for cruise holidays.

The Facts

Location: Southern Japan.

Language: Japanese.

Currency: Japanese Yen.

Docking/anchoring: Most ships dock at Tempozan Pier along Osaka’s waterfront, right in front of one of the world’s largest ferris wheels.

Transport: There’s a subway stop at Tempozan Harbour Village and the system is easy to negotiate with signs in English. Taxis can be hailed on the streets easily, but they can be quite expensive.


Japan’s third largest city was bombed flat in WWII and it’s been rebuilt as the working heart and soul of the Kansai region. But there’s still enough to see and do, and Osaka’s genuinely-friendly people help make this one of Japan’s most popular ports, despite the modernisation of the city. As any local will tell you, Osaka is a “gastronomes'’ town. From unusual local delicacies sold on street stalls, to five-star restaurants where you can blow a week’s wages, there is food at the turn of every street.  

Don’t Miss 

The Dotonbori is a noisy main drag choked with tourists, teenaged fashionistas, outlandish shop facades, and dazzling neon billboards. It’s an overwhelming spectacle, but one of Osaka’s most photographed landmarks. It is also famous for many things; the Dotonbori Canal, the mechanised giant pink Kani Doraku crab, the Ebishubashi Bridge (a legendary pick-up spot), and vibrant night life among them. 

Osaka Castle is one of Japan’s many reconstructed ancient landmarks, and perhaps the city’s most famous tourist attraction. Originally built in 1583, the 13 structures within the 15 acre complex have been restored to their original condition. At the main tower there’s an observation deck on the eighth floor with great views of the castle gardens and Osaka. 

Shitennoji is the oldest state temple in Japan, founded in 593AD, and although the temple’s buildings have burned to the ground several times through the centuries, they were always reconstructed in the original 6th century design. Shitennoji is a complex of many impressive buildings and the highlight is the storied pagoda and Golden Hall. 

Best Photo Op

The Umeda Sky Building near Osaka and Umeda Stations is effectively two separate 173 metre tall buildings connected by the “Floating Garden Observatory”, and from the 39th floor you get a great view of Osaka, especially at night when the neon madness transforms the skyline.  


Osaka has a multitude of world class shopping districts and the most central one is at Umeda which is a seemingly endless maze of shopping arcades, malls and streets lined with designer boutiques, discount chains and 100 yen stores selling kitschy trinkets. Shinsaibashi is near Umeda and is one of Osaka’s oldest and busiest shopping districts. 

Food and Drink

Osaka is famous for its staggering line-up of restaurants and eateries, capturing the essence of a special term which the Japanese have bestowed upon Osaka. Called “kuidaore”, it roughly means “to ruin oneself by extravagance in food”.  

Pick of the Excursions 

Just 40 km from Osaka is the ancient city of Kyoto, one of Japan’s most visited places with 40 million visitors a year.  Japan’s former imperial city is home to some of the country’s most famous architecture as it was one of the few cities untouched by World War II. It hasn’t been untouched by modern life, but much of its early heritage remains; it’s home to a fifth of Japan’s national treasures and has no less than 17 World Heritage Sights.  

Kobe is also easily reached from Osaka and many tours also include the beautiful Himeji Castle as part of their excursions. Himeji was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993 and it represents Japanese castle architecture at its finest. Kobe itself is one of Japan’s prettiest cities, set against a beautiful mountain range, and very little evidence remains of the devastating earthquake that killed more than 6,000 people in 1995. 


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  1. Posted by on 17th Dec 2018 Verified Customer

    Great City 5 Star Review

    I reckon Osaka is highly has it all, and it's close to Kyoto so you can kill two birds with the one stone when visiting. We love it there have been twice now!

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