Osaka: Shoguns, Ramen, and Skyline

The best among Japan’s largest cities, Osaka is rich in history with its successions of shoguns, daimyos, and samurais. Let’s get lost in this city filled with the best restaurants in all of Japan, where you can eat as much Ramen as you like. Enjoy the city’s skyline and revel in the unique nightlife that only Osaka can offer.

Travel Budget Breakdown

hotel Hotel $22 (per day, capsule)
van Transport $2 – $18 (Depending on destination)
dinner Food $5 – $20 (per meal)
Buddha-god-Buddhism-statue-india-china0A-512 Entrance Fees $4 – $7 (per tourist spot)
shopping Shopping $9 (clothes) / $27 (shoes) /
$5 – $9 (small souvenirs) / $9 (chocolates)

#10 Reflect inside Shintennoji Temple

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’ve seen a lot of Buddha statues to date, but the Buddha in Shintennoji Temple is one of the grandest I have ever seen, beating even those in Ayutthaya in Thailand. This temple is the first Buddhist and oldest officially administered temple in Japan built by Prince Shotoku, the prince who promoted Buddhism. This is a quiet temple with no camera policy on most spots so the chance of capturing the beauty of this place is somewhat limited. Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

#9 Food exploring in Shinsekai

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Osaka is known as Japan’s kitchen and at the very center of its food culture is Shinsekai with its colorful buildings attached with large moving crabs, shrimps, gyoza, and whatever food they offer. The restaurants here offer all kinds of legit Japanese cuisine. This place is heaven for foodies. Did you know that Shinsekai means “New World”? At the district’s center stands Tsutenkaku Tower, the nostalgia-evoking symbol of the area. (Fun fact: Paris was chosen as the model for Shinsekai’s northern half, while the southern portion was built to imitate Coney Island in New York). Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

#8 Cook your own gyukatsu in Beef Cutlet Takeru Nipponbashi

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Another unique experience is cooking gyukatsu (beef cutlet). In Beef Cutlet Takeru Nipponbashi you can cook your gyukatsu just the way you like it. It is also in individual stalls and the place is so popular you need to wait in line for your turn which is bad especially when it’s cold outside. Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

#7 Go taste the best Ramen in Japan: Ichiran!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The best Ramen in the world is served in Ichiran (founded by the singer of “Thinking Out Loud,” sorry I just need to say it). It is a nice restaurant with a Japanese vibe where you could have an option to eat in private stalls with covers. The staff will raise the blinds when your Ramen is ready and you have the option to have it served the way you like it. Extra richness on that broth? No problem! The restaurant has limited stalls though, and due to its popularity, you may need to wait to have a seat, but it’s worth it. Geek Rate: Titan Worthy (6 out of 5 stars)

(Note: The Ichiran ramen is the only food rated by Geekgod Review with a Titan worthy score of 6 out of 5 stars. The site only gives up to 5 stars, Sky god worthy).

#6 Experience the Harry Potter Style in House of Minalima

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The prelude to your visit to the Harry Potter World in Universal Studios Japan. Originally in London, the House of Minalima is a gallery and store of the graphic designers behind the Harry Potter films. It is just a pop-up store in Osaka which will be open until April. So hurry up and visit the place. It’s a bit hard to find, it’s in the Nishi Ward tucked in a quiet neighborhood. It has a not so flashy facade ( I thought it could be grander), so you might miss it out. But use Google Maps and you’ll be fine. Go grab some of those Hogwarts invite letter, wanted posters of Harry and Sirius Black, or a legit Hogwarts Express ticket. The piece de resistance is the family tree of the noble house of Black as seen in the 5th Harry Potter movie, “The Order of the Phoenix.” Geek Rate: Sun god Worthy (4 out of 5 stars)

#5 See the entire Osaka skyline in Umeda Sky Building or by riding the HEP Five Ferris Wheel

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Go visit the roof deck of the Umeda Sky Building to get a view of the Osaka skyline. There’s also a nice coffee bar at the top to let you relax while watching the buildings of the city light up. Another one that provides a good view of the city is the HEP Five Ferris Wheel which can be seen even from afar. If you want a view of Osaka, go get a ride on this one. Honestly, it’s not that grand, just your ordinary ride with a decent view of the city. For a better view, try the Umeda Sky Building. Use the Osaka Amazing Pass for a free pass to these sites. Geek Rate: Sun god Worthy (4 out of 5 stars)

#4 Experience the nightlife in Dotobori Canal

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The lively entertainment area of Dotonbori is renowned for its gaudy neon lights, extravagant signage, and the enormous variety of restaurants and bars. At the mouth of the Dotonbori bridge, several Japanese guys will be waiting for you to offer a visit to their bars. Go head down their street if that’s your scene. Stepping on that bridge, you will be greeted with the view of the iconic Dotonbori canal and its surrounding buildings. The place could be swamped by people at night but head down to the place during the mornings and you will see how tranquil the place is. Geek Rate: Mortal Worthy (3 out of 5 stars)

#3 Roam around Osaka’s sidestreets (and play some classic video games)

Lost trying to find the House of Minalima? Don’t worry because Osaka’s side streets are in itself interesting enough. Get lost around the maze of the city’s old streets and immersed in what it could offer from food, to souvenirs, to bars. Do note that most establishments open late in the day and close very early in the night. Along the way we spotted this cool arcade with classic street fighter and Super Mario video games. The very same place where German World Cup winner Lukas Podolski once visited!

#2 Attend Hogwarts in Universal Studios Japan

Rating: 5 out of 5.

For Potterheads, the Osaka trip will not be complete without a visit to Universal Studios Japan to see the Harry Potter World theme park. It is not as large as those in London and Florida but the experience is just the same. The ultimate destination is Hogwarts Castle. Witches and wizards know the drill, get your wand first before entering the castle. Don’t let anyone bully you into going straight to one of the rides without visiting Ollivander’s first. As Ron said: “don’t let the muggles get you down!”

Other interesting sites in this part of the theme park include Honeydukes (for chocolate frogs and every flavor beans), the pub Hog’s Head where the first meeting of the Dumbldedore’s Army was held, the joke shop Dervish and Banges, and Three Broomsticks for that hot butterbeer. (Fun tip: spot the muggles drinking the cold ones!) Geek Rate: Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

#1 Visit the historic Osaka Castle

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The castle built by shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi in 1583 is a sight to behold even from afar. The Osaka Castle was constructed on a former site of a temple which had been destroyed by Oda Nobunaga, archnemesis of Kenshin. The park outside provides a spectacular view of the castle with its stone walls, a picturesque moat, and cherry blossom trees dotting the area. There’s a considerable walk towards the main castle because the grounds are a bit huge but there’s some interesting historical stuff along the way, like the famed turrets that repelled the forces of Tokugawa Ieyasu during the Battle of Sekigahara.

Entering the main castle has a fee of 600 Yen (tip: buy the Osaka Amazing Pass to get free passes in sites like this). Honestly, I’m not a fan of the Japanese medieval architecture but the grandeur of the place lies with its colorful history. The inside was turned into a museum which somehow modernized the whole place but did not take away the old vibes of the Medieval and Edo Periods. Immerse yourself with the history of that period through interactive visuals, as well as, legit armors and other stuff used during the shoguns’ time. (Note: You can take a look at the armor and battle helmet used by Toyotomi Hideyoshi!) Geek Rate: Sky god Worthy (5 out of 5 stars)

Geek Guide Data

vector-sign-of-people-icon People – The Japanese are most courteous people in the world, though not the warmest (that would be the Filipinos). The people in Osaka are the friendliest of all the Japanese people.
IMMIGRATION Immigration – Stern officers but efficient nonetheless, the line in the immigration counters in Kansai International Airport (the gateway to Osaka) is short and you’ll get out of the airport in a breeze.
1022px-aiga_railtransportation_inv.svg Transport – Osaka’s train system is the best in the world but you need some Google Maps mastery and patience to navigate the maze that is Japan’s subways and railways.
wifi WiFi and power plugs – The WiFi connection in Japan is awesome and super fast. Free WiFi in every place! The voltage in Japan is 100 Volt, which is different from North America (120V), Central Europe (230V) and most other regions of the world.
shopping Shopping and English – English in this place is almost non-existent, as is the case on most countries in Asia (except The Philippines and Singapore). Trying to communicate will be a challenge but most locals have adapted to the influx of tourists that they can understand a bit of English. This country is a shopping heaven.
weather Weather – Japan has four distinct seasons: March to May is spring; June to August is summer; September to November is autumn; and December to February is winter. Each season has very different temperatures and climates.

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