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Osaka is predominantly divided into wards. Kita, located in the north is primarily the business and commercial area, and Minami, in the south, is principally the shopping and entertainment hub of the city. Architecturally this is a futuristic city, dynamic in spirit. However, more recently, it has been looking to its past – now restoring beautiful parks and public areas. Osaka devours life, but in a leisurely way. Its people are often called “kuidaore,” meaning that they become poor because of their extravagance in eating and drinking. Shopping and eating are certainly preferred activities here.
Shinsaibashi is the popular shopping area, Soemoncho is the entertainment neighbourhood and Dotombori is packed with theatres and restaurants. Here, you will come across the Shin-Kabukiza Theatre and the famous National Bunraku Puppet Theatre. Further south is the Shinsekai ward, where you cannot miss the 103-metre Tsutenkaku Tower, a recognised landmark of Osaka.
Due to its fertile land and close proximity to the sea, Osaka has always produced a copious amount of delicious ingredients. A particularly popular dish in Osaka is “Okonomi-yaki“, a Japanese style pancake which contains a combination of meat, seafood and vegetables, all covered in a tasty sauce. Take a seat in an Izakaya, the Japanese version of a pub, and try “Takoyaki” – balls of wheat batter containing octopus.
Café culture is thriving in Osaka, where novelties such as the manga craze have taken over many venues. In addition, the Japanese are caffeine fanatics and kissaten (coffee shops) have been set up on every corner to cater to this demand.
Osaka’s never ending, lively bar scene generally revolves around specific wards. Minami attracts the young, hip clientele whilst Kita tends to cater to a more mature crowd. Music and an innovative mixture of bar-come-nightclub venues are on offer to suit most trends, persuasions and moods, equipped to entertain you until the early hours of the evening, whatever you may be looking for. “Kampai!”
Osaka’s shopping areas can be divided into four districts: Umeda, Namba, Shinsai-bashi and Tennoji. Umeda has some of the city’s largest department stores. Namba, also known as Minami, has the best food culture. Shinsia-bashi is arguably the main shopping area, where you will also find the popular Amerika-mura, a district with many American style shops. This is the place where many young Japanese come to check out the latest trends or just “hang out”. Look out for the tell-tale Statue of Liberty. At the Tennoji district you will find both priceless antiques and contemporary fashion.
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