Every month, the Journal takes ACCJ members on a tour of Japan, thanks to our partners at JapanTourist (www.japantourist.jp). JapanTourist is the largest web database of English language travel articles on Japan. This month we take a look at the sights and sounds of Osaka.
Osaka’s Expo Park
By Jeannie Gan, Regional Partner
It was mid-August when I first came to Osaka’s Expo Park, so it was really hot. Yet amazingly, the wide space of massive greenery does give you a cooling effect. The park was the original grounds for the 1970 World Exposition and, at 264 hectares, it is something to see.
Upon entering the park, The Tower of the Sun will be there to welcome you. The tower is actually bigger than I’d expected, standing a majestic 65 meters, with arms stretching outwards on both sides at 25 meters long. The tower has three faces, the golden and red face in front and a black face at its back. The red face symbolizes the sun and the one at the back, the ‘Black Sun’. The tower is one unique and creative structure to capture in your photos!
My first recommended stop would be the Japanese Garden. This is in fact four gardens in one, portraying the Heian Period (8-11th century), the Kamakura Period (10-12th Century), the Muromachi Period (12-16thCentury) and the most recent Edo Period (17th-19th Century). This garden is also known as one of the most beautiful gardens in the Showa period.
I really love the park and let myself become absorbed in the simple yet elegant landscapes. There are streams and ponds with koi fishes that add to the harmony of the garden. At only ¥500 you can enjoy traditional macha (thick green tea) and also a sweet Japanese dessert in the tea house. It’s simply blissful to sip the hot green tea and feast your eyes with the great view by the tea house.
Of course the Japanese garden is not the only reason to come here. The other main attraction would be the natural and cultural park, covering 90 hectares of land in the Expo Park. No matter which season you are here, you will be mesmerized by the flowers blooming. After enjoying their beauty, remember to head to the Sorado (Sky trail). As its name suggests, this is a 300-meter sturdy aerial promenade. You can get a bird’s eye view of the whole park in mid-air, an experience you will not forget.
Finally, besides nourishing your appetite for green, you can also visit the Expo pavilion, Folk Craft Museum and the National Museum of Ethnology. It is rather rare to find a museum with ethnological and cultural displays that cover items from nine different world regions. You may even find something that is close to your own heart and culture!
Tako Tako King
By Flavio Spezzacatena, Regular Contributor
Atraveler might go to Rome to see the Coliseum or to Paris for the Eiffel Tower. In Osaka, Japan you might go for the octopus – the big red, eight-armed creatures that adorn the front of Osaka’s world-renowned Tako Tako King pubs. There are three of these eateries in the city’s Shinsaibashi area alone, each offering up the delicious specialty of takoyaki – fried dumplings filled with octopus (tako means octopus in Japanese), often combined with potatoes, pickled ginger and green onions.
The Tako Tako King pubs are fun and informal, offering weary travelers a chance Tako Tako King to relax, listen to music and enjoy the savory takoyaki. Many Osaka visitors call them the most fun pubs they’ve ever been in.
I like the atmosphere at the Tako Tako King pub because the staff is always smiling. They’ll even follow you onto the street until you disappear from view. The walls of the Tako Tako King pubs are full of strange objects and tags. And the selection of beers and other beverages at the pubs is also great; my favorite drink is Calpis Soda on the rocks.
The Tako Tako King pubs are easy to find: one is a five-minute walk from the Nipponbashi stop on the Midosuji Line. With the river at your back, turn on the fourth street on the left and you can’t miss it: look for a red light and a gentleman cooking some takeout takoyaki in a window open to the street.
Oh, and don’t forget the big red octopus out front!