While planning our trip to Osaka, we didn’t really know what to think about Osaka. In travelguides it’s described as a modern city, not really much exciting to see… But boy are they wrong! To me, Osaka was the biggest surprise of our Japan journey.

Make sure your expectations are right though. Osaka ain’t Kyoto. You will not find kimono’s all over the place, either authentic wooden buildings. But… you will see fixed gear bikes everywhere, sky scrapers in every block, designshops on almost every corner. I think this might be the place where upcoming designers pop up before leaving for Tokyo. How exciting is that, to see their work while still developing that signature style?!

One of the SHOPPING highlights you have to visit is Orange Street region. In this region you’ll find small boutigues next to vintage stores and hip-budget department stores. BAPE (the brand Pharell is hooked on) has a boutique in one of the alleys and Westwood Bakers is situated allong the sides of the Orange Street Blocks. A few very cool urban stores like Invisible Store provide you with the latest on accessoiries and fashion. The vintage shops are really well priced and you will get fair wear for your money (I baught a vintage Diane Furstenberg for E100). The interior shops breath the Japanese serene sense of styling. It’s really hard to go home without taking anything with you. In case you are looking for original souvenirs, stop by ASOKO small department store. You’ll find everything here from feathered slippers to Bible-look-a-like notebooks for friendly prices.
For the ‘Japan-shopping-experience’ you should visit Umeda area. Bright signs everywhere, beautifull shops everywhere… but also tourists everywhere. Somehow the Japanese really love American stuff. In Osaka there is an actual American Village with loads of vintage shops and it’s just really cool to walk around and spot all the different kinds of people.  It’s a perfect place for a pair of vintage LEE shorts and a burger.

Another thing I really liked about Osaka was the Gourmet restaurants. A little odd at first, but it is a must do when you’re in town. You can find these restaurants everywhere. The concept is really simple though… There is a sort of gas BBQ ready for you at the table. You can choose vegetables, meat and so on from the menu and just start grilling! They serve a delicious sauce with your choice of assortiment. It’s very cozy and fun to do.

If you like CITYVIEWS, the trainstation of Osaka is worth a visit. On top of a human-ant experience you have free acces to the roof of the huge building. Most of the ‘climb’ is accesable by escalator but the last part you’ll have to finish by foot and stairs. On top is a rooftop garden where lovely herbs grow and is an example for urban population to be self providing. While wandering in between sky scrapers and herbs, you’ll have quite a city view – for free!
For daredevils who are not affraid of heights… the Osaka-Eye (as I like to call it) is a nice cityview option too. For about Y700 you can enjoy a 15 min. sky high ride with i-pod plug in option and all. You have to look closely where to find it, beacause it’s clogged on top of a mall.