After the destruction of World War II, Osaka recovered quickly to become one of Japan’s leading centers of commerce and cultural activity. Its citizens became more prosperous and took an interest in scholarly work, bunraku, and kabuki.

Osaka has always been an international city, and the people there have open attitudes towards different values and new forms of culture.

1. Dotonbori

Known for its towering neon signs, Dotonbori is one of the most famous places to visit in Osaka. It’s a nightlife and shopping district that attracts revellers from across the city.

Dotonbori has a history as an entertainment hub and still hosts several traditional kabuki theatres and a Takeda Karakuri mechanical puppet theatre. It is also a great place to sample Osaka’s famous food, including okonomiyaki – savory pancakes – and takoyaki – cooked batter-balls stuffed with octopus.

The famous Glico Running Man billboard is one of the main landmarks of Dotonbori. The area is also renowned for its busy covered shopping arcades, called shotengai, that run along the street. The mascot for the area is Kuidaore Taro, a drumming doll that resembles Wally from Where’s Wally?

2. Tenma

Tenma is home to the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine, as well as the Tenjinbashi-suji shopping street. It is a popular area to visit with locals, especially for the food yokozushi (Japanese-style BBQ). Try out some of the many restaurants in the area! Some dishes to try are skirt steak, spare ribs, and beef tongue. Also, don’t forget to try the Osaka specialty kotecchan, which is small intestine that has been grilled.

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3. Horie

While Dotonbori is a larger than life street theater, Horie is a genteel area where designers and long term expats spend their evenings. Its quiet streets are lined with a mix of piano bars and cafes, reminiscent of the Upper West Side in Manhattan.

Originally a lumber region, this neighborhood is known for its fashionability. Lined with brand shops and cafes that are ahead of the times, this region attracts a younger crowd than other areas in Osaka.

Located equidistant from Yotsubashi station, Nishi Ohashi, and Sakuragawa stations, this area is easily accessible. The restaurant Ajikitcho Horie is a traditional Japanese eatery that’s been featured in Michelin eight years running and is owned by an owner who has a forward-thinking attitude and can accommodate for any particular dining needs (provided you let them know ahead of time). For example, the chef prepares a Muslim-friendly set menu without pork and pork derivatives.

4. Amerika-mura

For those looking to immerse themselves in Japan’s youth culture, Amerika-mura (amerika Cun) is the place to be. This colorful area west of Shinsaibashi is a hub of fashion stores, music clubs and bars. The town is centered on Sankaku Koen Park, a triangular concrete plaza where young people show off their latest styles. It’s also a town of art, with the mural “PEACE ON EARTH” painted by Seitaro Kuroda and street lights shaped like humans.

Amerika-mura earned its name in the 1970s when local warehouses began filling up with shops selling American goods. Now it’s a compact enclave of youth-focused and offbeat stores, plus cafes, tattoo and piercing parlors, nightclubs and discreet love hotels. The district is also home to a number of concerts at its bars.

5. Shinsaibashi

One of the most popular shopping destinations in Osaka, Shinsaibashi is a huge 580-meter long arc-shaped roof commercial street. Around 60,000 people visit the area on weekdays and 120,000 on weekends, making it a major tourist attraction. This is where you can find everything from high-fashion retailers like GU and Uniqlo to top-class brands at Daimaru Shinsaibashi. There are also reasonably priced Japanese shops such as WEGO, United Arrows, and Samantha Thavasa, plus the ubiquitous drug stores you’d find in any other country.

Easily accessible by subway, the area is home to the main shopping streets and malls of Osaka, and it’ll take most people a full day to get through all the choices. Stay at a Choice Hotels Osaka Shinsaibashi and be a short walk from all the action.