Throbbing with neon signs, thrumming with sushi restaurants and bursting with busy izakaya, Namba is the beating heart of Osaka and one of the main commercial districts in Minami, the southern section of the city. When darkness falls, there’s no better area to eat, shop and drink in the electric atmosphere of Japan’s most fun-loving metropolis. There’s plenty to keep you occupied in the daytime, too.
Japanese knives are among the world’s finest – they’re light and super-sharp, facilitating precise, delicate cutting. Jikko has been making them for more than 120 years. This Namba branch of the shop is a wonderland for gourmands, lovingly laying out crafted blades of all sizes, styles and price points, in glass cabinets as if they were fine jewellery. Whether you’re looking for a specialist sashimi cutter or a multi-purpose santoku knife – great for slicing, mincing or dicing – you’ll find something to suit here.
With its tender wheat noodles and umami-rich broths, ramen is one of Japan’s most famous foods – and one of its most diverse, too. Learn to cook two different types – one chicken-based, one veggie – in this three-hour cookery course with chef host Yucco, who is an Osaka local ready to feed you with plenty of washoku (Japanese food) tips. You’ll also learn to whip up two kinds of gyoza, those deliciously crisp dumplings stuffed with meat and veg.
Since ancient times, Nambayasaka Shrine has been the central place of worship in Namba for believers of Shinto – Japan’s indigenous, nature-worshipping religion that predates the arrival of Buddhism. Damaged during conflict, it remains unmistakable today – a distinctive building shaped like an enormous lion’s head. It has been named a folk culture property and a tug-of-war takes place at the temple every 3 January, saluting a myth surrounding the enshrined deity’s deeds.
Hozenji Yokocho is a narrow little alleyway that still radiates the atmosphere of the Edo period (between 1603 and 1867), with a serene hush that contrasts with the full-on atmosphere of nearby Dotonbori. It’s named after nearby Hozenji, a Buddhist temple dating from the 17th century. Look for the statue of Fudomyoo, the deity worshipped at Hozenji, completely covered in moss and surrounded by visitors pouring water over it in return for its blessings.
Now, this is a highly unusual attraction – a Japanese superstore with many floors selling everything from groceries to home appliances, jewellery to sex toys. So far so normal, you might say, but ringing the facade of the building is a vertical “bracelet” of moving carriages: the Don Quixote Ferris wheel, recently reopened after being blighted by mechanical complications. Taking you up almost 80m (262ft), there are sensational views of the adjacent canal and Japan’s tallest building.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Brooke Larsen.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
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