"Osaka: The Manchester of Asia" Osaka by OsakaHatter

Osaka Travel Guide: 886 reviews and 2,565 photos

A student of mine recently described Osaka as the Manchester of Asia and as an industrial second city at the other end of the country to the glittering lights of the capital, the description isn't far wrong. And quite remarkable, given that it came from a NOVA student.

Osaka is a special city, and you can read into the use of the world 'special' anything that you will...

Taxi drivers struggle to drive down streets a bus with a broken steering shaft could navigate without difficulty. Japanese pedestrians wander around aimlessly, blissfully unaware that there is anyone else in the street with them. Gaijin stagger around groggily, wondering who turned the lights on, what happened to the last 8 hours, and just how much that last round of car bombs in Murphys cost them.
And then usually fall asleep head down in a bowl of ramen.

Osaka is keeping it real, unlike the rest of Japan which, quite frankly, lost the plot years ago. And, despite comments to the contrary by the unenlightened, is much better than Tokyo. Which we don't like. Arrogant, you see? Typical bloody capital city...

Virtually flattened during the second world war, Osaka was rebuilt rapidly, in classical 60's flat-pack concrete sheet style on a loose grid system.
During the day the mess of hire wires, raised roads, pachinko parlours and identikit apartment blocks, along with a seeming lack of consistent planning schemes has given rise to the city's reputation for being ugly.

However at night, Osaka comes to life and shows the peculiar charm that people fall in love with. Osakans are famously more laidback than many Japanese and their love of eating and socialising is evident in the mass of restaurants, foodstalls and bars spilling out onto the streets, luring people in with their glowing neon.

The rapid rebuild makes Osaka seem as if it has been cunningly designed to make almost all its buildings nigh on identical. This at first would seem to be to bemuse and discourage tourists, but in fact it's a piece of architectural genius that emphasises the few beautiful sights the city has to offer.

Some of the most enduring images in Osaka are not always places to visit as such, or even obvious at first. The lampposts in Ami Mura, such as the one to the left, are a case in point. I'm using the travelogues below to document some of the more unusual sights around the city.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Good travel base, excellent public transport, bustling nightlife, down to earth locals.
  • Cons:It ain't pretty, and does get very hot.
  • In a nutshell:Experience the Urban Elephant Man. Learn to love it.
  • Intro Updated Sep 3, 2009
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Reviews (34)

Comments (7)

  • Heavens-Mirror's Profile Photo
    May 16, 2007 at 2:54 PM

    wow what a fantastic place to live. Japan has always been on my list to go to. Osaka looks amazing. Take care, Stacey xxx

  • Nichola1's Profile Photo
    Nov 25, 2006 at 9:14 PM

    I thought you said there was a pic of me on here :( have i been replaced already!?

  • Aug 30, 2006 at 6:41 PM

    Best insite that I have seen re-Osaka, excellent Iwould have to say!! Looks like party time has to be in the itinery! Thanks-keep it up!

  • jcunningham's Profile Photo
    Dec 27, 2005 at 2:27 AM

    I'll be in Osaka for New Year, where's the party? Cheers

  • chiara76's Profile Photo
    May 30, 2005 at 4:28 AM

    Good page , nice pictures! Greetings from Warsaw:)

  • Ben-UK's Profile Photo
    Mar 29, 2005 at 10:57 AM

    Great commentary! -- nightlife looks good, but do they have jazz nights like they do in the Waltzing Weasel? -- and have they got a stadium as good as Edgeley Park?

  • justbecks's Profile Photo
    Nov 16, 2004 at 1:20 PM

    hiya osakahatter..could have easily been madhatter...Tell me which u prefer!:) had a look..had a laugh!Love the brutal honesty and unconventional Jap commentry alongside your pics.Well done..keep going!becks

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