Osaka, An Ana Mini Guide

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DISCOVER: Osaka, An ANA Mini Guide

Long since an overlooked transit hub for visitors bound for Kyoto, Osaka is enjoying a well-deserved renaissance as tourists begin to discover the unique appeal of Japan’s third largest city. More approachable than Tokyo and less stuffy than Kyoto, visitors who take time getting to know the bustling streets of Osaka are instantly charmed by a city that prides itself on its relaxed, fun-loving lifestyle.

So lose yourself amidst neon-lit alleys and tuck into platefuls of takoyaki – here are five reasons to put Osaka at the top of your itinerary.


EAT: Get stuck into Dotonbori

During the Edo Period in Japan, Osaka was known as “the nation’s kitchen”, and the city’s foodie heritage lives on today in an abundance of vibrant markets, cosy izakayas and above all, neon-lit Dotonbori. Full of flavour at any time of day but best enjoyed after the sun goes down, the streets of Dotonbori are your chance to get stuck into Osaka’s famous street food. Larger-than-life shop-front signs advertise must-try local favourites. Be sure to tuck into a plate of takoyaki (batter-fried octopus balls), try the regional ramen and of course sample okonomiyaki Osakan pancakes. And if you’re stuck trying to decide which to aim for first, find the biggest queue and join it.


DISCOVER: Trace the footsteps of the ‘Osaka Five’

Not just famous for food, Osaka is also integral to the history of Japanese denim. The story of how five of Japan’s denim giants launched their jeans brands in Osaka in the late 80s and early 90s is the stuff of denim legend, and has left an indigo imprint on the city. Known as the ‘Osaka Five’, the roots of Studio D‘Artisan, Denime, Evisu, Full Count and Warehouse can all be traced back to the city, and their passion for reinventing jeans using Japanese craftsmanship paved the way for a plethora of niche denim brands hailing from Japan. As a result, Osaka is host to enough raw denim to keep even the most avid enthusiast happy – head to the Umeda and Namba shopping districts for the best selvedge the city has to offer.


DO: Geek-out on hard-to-find hardware

Not likely to be found on many Osaka city-guides, but a must-see for design nuts nonetheless, Masakatsu Sato’s hardware and furniture warehouse is heaven for those keen to delve into the history of functional Japanese design. Obsessive collector Sato is a self-proclaimed hardware otaku (that’s ‘geek’ to you and I), and has compiled a veritable Aladdin’s cave of vintage and dead stock fixtures, furniture and household items from across Japan. Part-store-part-workshop, Tsumugi Syoukai is hidden away in an industrial district, and makes a satisfying detour for any interior enthusiast.

Tsumugi Syoukai: 2-12-17 Imabayi Higashi-goshiyoshi-ku, Osaka-shi 546-0001


STAY: In Osaka’s hippest new hotel

Taking inspiration from stripped back design hotels aimed at the ‘creative class’ (think Ace hotel), Marriot group have launched a diffusion brand – Moxy – with the first branch having just opened in Osaka. Geared towards a more adventurous traveller, the Moxy Osaka is housed in an 11-storey former warehouse and offers 155 basic but spacious bedrooms as well as plenty of cosy co-working spaces. Book your stay via the hotel website [https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/osaox-moxy-osaka-honmachi/]

Moxy Osaka Honmachi: 2-2-9 Kawaramachi Chuo-Ku, Osaka


DRINK: Suntory, straight from the barrel

A short hop by train from Osaka to Yamazaki and you’ll find yourself in the home of Japanese whisky. Suntory released the first Japanese whisky back in 1929, and a visit to the Yamazaki distillery [https://www.suntory.com/factory/yamazaki/] offers the chance to dive into the heritage of some of the best blends not just in Japan, but the world. Add to that the fact that Japanese whisky is suddenly in short supply, and a trip to the source becomes all the more pertinent…

Suntory Yamazaki Distillery: 5-2-1 Yamazaki, Shimamoto-cho, Mishima-gun, Osaka

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