The city of Osaka is Japan’s third largest city in terms of population, with over 2.6 million inhabitants. Despite being a more modern city, the city also has a lot of history, like the oldest shinto shrine, and traditions to offer. The port city, is known as the culinary capital of Japan and is the birthplace of some delicious Japanese dishes such as okonomiyaki and Takoyaki. The people of Osaka have a reputation of being more rebellious but at the same time more down-to-earth, humble and gentle. The welcoming town with its’ friendly people, vibrant nightlife, excellent shopping, delicious food is well-worth a visit! Day trip to Osaka from Kyoto
Osaka has two major city centre’s: kita (north in Japanese) referring to the Umeda area and the Dotonbori and Namba area which is called minami (south in Japanese). Kita, or Umeda, is the city’s transportation and business hub. The area has undergone a major facelift over the last years and has become the political, economic and cultural center of Osaka and Kansai district. Here we recommend 6 places to visit in Umeda.
1. Umeda Sky Building
This unique modern architecture is one of the major landmarks of Osaka. Directly connected to JR Osaka station and Hankyu Umeda station, Umeda Sky Building is made out of offices, showrooms, event spaces, restaurants, shops, movie theaters, and observatory.
The building is designed to provide some oasis of greenery for the visitors to enjoy. Between the Umeda Sky Building and Westin Hotel, there is a small forest with a creek and small waterfalls where visitors can take a walk. In early summer you can even find some fireflies here. In other area, there is some small agriculture spot with a vegetable farm and rice field. Local elementary school students come once a year to transplant rice seedlings as a part of their learning experience.
The most popular feature of Umeda Sky Building is the “Kuchu Teien” observatory which is located on the 39th floor. The observatory offers great view of the skyscrapers of Umeda district from the south side. From the north side you can see far and wide until Rokkosan mountain range when the weather permits. You can also enjoy the scenery from the “Sky Walk”, an open air deck on the upper level. The sunset and night view is also very popular.
Umeda Sky Building
9.30am – 10.30pm
2. Grand Front Osaka
The Grand Front Osaka is a large commercial complex on the north side of Osaka Station that opened in 2013. It consists of four towers; South Building, North Building, Intercontinental Hotel, and a residential building. South Building has direct connection to Osaka Station, and South and North Building house about 270 shops and restaurants.
In the South Building, the first six floors are mainly occupied by fashion and interior shops, and next three floors house mainly restaurants. There is also the Panasonic Center, which is an interactive showroom where visitors can experience Panasonic’s new technologies and products. The center has three floors with different themes, Living, Solution, and Lifestyle.
The main facility in the North Building is the Knowledge Capital on 6th floor where visitors can experience and learn about Japanese innovative technologies. There are variety of interactive workshops and events, and showrooms where various companies exhibit their latest products and technologies. On the 6th floor in North Tower, you will also find wide range of dining options in the area called “Umekita Floor” which opens until 4 in the morning.
Around the Grand Front Osaka you can also find a water area where you can cool off during the hot summer months! During summertime, many locals come to play in the water and enjoy the weather.
3. Osaka Station City
JR Osaka Station was renovated and reopened in 2011 as Osaka Station City. It is also often referred to as Umeda station. For many travellers to Osaka this will be their arrival point, but this station is worth exploring in its own right. It is truly photogenic with some great architecture! It consists of two buildings on the north and south sides of the station called North Gate Building and South Gate Building respectively. These two buildings are connected with “Toki no Hiroba” which is a domed wide bridge over the railway tracks.
The North Gate Building is mainly occupied by a large shopping and dining complex LUCUA which offers various restaurants and trendy stores for fashion and interior. One of the biggest movie theaters in Kansai area can be found on the 11th floor. There are also open-air gardens on the 10th and 11th floors and rooftop.
The South Gate Building was partly newly constructed and partly renovated. It contains DAIMARU department store, Hotel Granvia Osaka, and outdoor terraces on the 15th, 16th, and 17th floors. DAIMARU department store houses UNIQLO, Tokyu Hands and Pokemon Center in addition to wide variety of goods, restaurants and services.
4. Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Arcade
This is the longest arcade shopping street in Japan, stretched out over 7 blocks or about 2.6 km. It is not only the length of the shopping arcade that is long but so is its history. People have come to this place to shop for over 300 years since the early Edo period! Now there are as many as 600 shops for groceries, daily use items, books, medicine, home appliances, clothing as well as restaurants, bakeries, and bars. There are also many kissaten, Japanese coffee shops inspired by traditional teahouses build mainly in Showa era when the West had a strong influence on culture in Japan.
This shopping arcade with a friendly neighbourhood atmosphere is an interesting contrast to the nearby modern and high-end shopping area close to Osaka Station and Umeda Station. Here you can enjoy observing many local shops and local people while you enjoy famous sushi, Udon noodles, korokke (potato croquette), takoyaki (savoury octopus balls), or a good cup of coffee at one of the kissaten.
5. Kitashinchi District
Located south of Osaka station or Umeda Station, this area is famous for nightlife and entertainment. The Kitashinchi District is home to hundreds of high-class bars and clubs. This area developed as entertainment district in Edo era (around 1698) with small theaters, public baths, inns, and teahouses with geisha girls entertaining their customers with dancing and singing.
The area was originally called Dojima-shinchi, and then Sonezaki-shinchi as the center of the entertainment facilities slightly moved its location to near Sonezaki River. In 1842, the government licensed Sonezaki-shinchi as Japan’s first official entertainment district. In 1912, when the Sonezaki River was reclaimed, Dojima-shinchi and Sonezaki-shinchi merged and together became Kitashinchi. After the World War II, Kitashinchi became a gathering place for wealthy businessmen to socialize and exchange information. Now it is more for businessmen to entertain their clients. If you are looking for a fun night out in the Umeda area, Kitashinchi District is your best pick!
A five minute east walk from Osaka Station you will come across another famous landmark of Osaka: its ferris wheel! The remarkable giant red constructions cannot be missed! It is part of Hep, a major shopping mall and entertainment centre. Hep is short for Hankyu Entertainment Park, which welcomes over 17 million visitors each year! Take a break from the exploring and from the large crowds and take in the impressive view of Osaka, while riding the ferris wheel! The local legend though is that when you ride together with your partner, you’ll break up soon after…
Operating time 11am – 10.45pm (Last boarding time)
Get your tickets for Hep5 here
Where to stay in Osaka Umeda area?
Experience the warmth and charm of the city’s culture and spend the night in Osaka too. Umeda is popular to stay in Osaka among luxury travellers thanks to the wide selection of the luxurious 5-star hotels. Here are some of our top picks in the Umeda area:
- Imperial Hotel – a classy hotel with spacious rooms and great views
- Hotel Granvia Osaka – conveniently located directly above JR Osaka Train Station
- Hotel Embrassee – a modern up-scale hotel, with larger sized rooms
How was our list of things to do in Umeda! When you are in Osaka, this area in the north is a must-visit place. Do you feel inspired to travel to the buzzing city? We hope you enjoy Osaka’s lively atmosphere and yummy foods.
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