Namba is a district in the southern region of Osaka. The other name of Namba is ‘Minami’ which means ‘south’. The district is not inferior to any other districts of the country and has much to offer to people who are in pursuit of good food and good times. Check-in some of the most talked-about spots in Namba, if you wish your trip to be worthwhile.
Kuromon Market, the market that celebrates food like none other
Kuromon Market Market had its genesis in 1902. It was originally called Enmyoji Ichiba Market, after the Enmyoji Temple. The temple was famous for its jet black gate or 'Kuromon Ichiba’, which is from where the market got its present name. Unfortunately, the temple along with its gate was reduced to ashes in the fire of 1912, bequeathing a part of its name to the market.
The market is only 5 minutes away from Nippombashi Station. Kuromon Market is to Osaka, as Osaka is to Japan. It is befittingly nicknamed ‘Osaka’s Kitchen’, because this is where people flock to, for kitchen supplies. The market spreads over a kilometre, with more than 150 shops and restaurants. It is not only the hotspot for homemakers but also for business people, who run commercial food businesses. In a nutshell, you will find all the ingredients needed to prepare all sorts of ravishing dishes. However, the highlight of the market remains the sea-food.
You can stroll down the alley of stalls, hunting for ingredients, while picking a skewered meat here and a fishcake there and a little something from various snack bars, until you reach the other end of the market, with a full tummy.
The place is now a full-on tourist destination. In 2015, an average of 23000 people visited the market in a single day.
Imitate the Glico Man at Dotonbori
Dotonbori, the once upon a time theatre district, is now a vibrant area illuminated with colossal billboards and neon lights. If you are on the hunt for a place to grove away the night, you have come to the right place, as Dotonbori is one of the locales that celebrate insane nightlife. With a plethora of entertaining establishments set in eccentric ambience, you would be at a loss, as to choose which spot. An attraction that has been, for decades, attracting tourists and people like magnets do iron, is the Glico Man, the billboard of an athlete crossing a finishing line, so famous that it has become a landmark of Dotonbori. This particular Glico is the face of Glico Candy, one of Asia’s most popular confectionery companies. Get near the billboard, spread your arms and get into a picture with the Glico guy because it is a fashion that has been in trend for years.
Hoard some favourites from Shinsaibashi
Shinsaibashi has been acclaimed as one of the most frequented shopping areas for the past hundreds of years. The 600-metre long street is crammed with places of delight and is a favourite place to hang out for overseas tourists, perhaps because the line of shops entertain both types of shoppers- the thriftless and the thrifty. Whichever you may be, you can have your pick from small independent boutiques, massive departmental stores, flagship brands stores like Uniqlo and others, there is just so much in the street, to set your eyes on.
Ride the vertical ride at Namba Hips
Namba Hips is the structure in the middle of Namba. No eyes that ever crossed path with the building have been spared because it is too peculiar looking to be left un-gazed. The gargantuan hourglass stands for ‘eternity’ while the exclamation mark stands for ‘surprise’. Indeed, Namba Hips is the building of eternal surprise and has been living up to the meaning. The building radiates an amusement-like vibe with the 74 metres long vertical ride mounted on the façade of the building, which travels at a speed of 22 metres per second.
If you feel the need to burn a few calories, you can head here as the 12 floored building has built-in studios and complexes for indoor activities like golf studios, bowling alleys, fitness studios, sports bar, highball bars, karaoke, spas. The building is all about being fair and square. People who need to gain calories can also come to gorge on indoor restaurants and cafes. You can go into the building with an empty wallet. Just do not forget to USD 6.52 for the vertical drop.
Go for a date to the Namba Parks
Namba Parks is an enormous shopping complex with the most impressive, eco- friendly architectural structure. Amidst billion-dollar infrastructures, Namba Parks stands as a concrete jungle with rising terraces and rooftop gardens at each level. A huge canyon runs through the centre allowing visitors to do good to their eyes, with some very captivating views of the place from each floor.
You can directly walk into the posh jungle from the second floor, which forms the base of the canyon. The structure is too huge so it will prove wise to go up to the information desk and ask for a guide, to be able to know where to go for what.
The structure has 9 floors which are enough for anyone to spend a whole day. You can shop like there's no tomorrow because the first five floors are dedicated to ladies' and gents' clothing lines and personal care items. The 5th floor is a children's paradise. On this floor, you will also come across some Japanese brands that specialise in hand creams, scrubs and bath soaks.
After you are done shopping, you can go up to the 6th floor and grab a bite or two in some of the most refined and chic restaurants that serve international cuisines and, perhaps play a few games in the Namco Games Arcade. There are a wider choice of restaurants to choose from in the 7th and 8th floors, so rest assured if the menus of the 6th-floor restaurants do not appease you. The 8th floor is full of pleasant surprises, with a cinema hall that shows the latest domestic as well as international blockbusters, an amphitheatre for concerts and outdoor events and a garden leading up to the 9th floor. The 9th floor is a landscape garden with flowers, shrubs, trees, ponds, streams, waterfalls. The gardens in Namba Parks have as many as 70000 plants. This is so far, the most ideal place in Namba to go for a date because after all the shopping, playing, eating and movies, you can make a grand exit through greeneries, colourful flowers and leafy terraces.
Swap your evil lucks for good ones at Nambayasaka Shrine
Nambayasaka Shrine is famous for its unique architecture. The enormous head of a lion, sitting open-mouthed at the entrance is enough to scare away people. However, the monstrous-looking mouth is what many come to the shrine for. Ema Den, the sacred head of the beast is the abode of the guardian deity of Namba. It is believed to swallow evil spirits. The deity, it is believed is more sympathetic towards students and people involved in businesses. So, if you are to sit for an exam, don’t forget to drop by the open-mouthed lion, for you to fare well in the exam.
The peculiar structure was constructed in 1975 and is 12 metres tall and runs 7 metres deep. Believers of Shintoism gather to the shrine to seek blessings, since time immemorial. The grounds once held a complex of Buddhist temples, but they shared the fate of other historical buildings in the area and were burned down during the wars.
On the 3rd Sunday of January, every year, a tug-of-war event is held to commemorate the victory of Susano-Ono- Mikoto, the deity who freed the Japanese people from hardships and the clutches of the Serpent God Yamato-No-Orochi. The inner complex is crammed with cherry blossom trees. The place glows and looks heavenly with cherry blossom blooms during the spring season. Ironically, many refrain from springtime visits as the place tend to get busier during that time of the year. The management of the shrine encourages donations from sincere believers, yet the entrance is absolutely free. Nambayasaka Shrine is just a 5 minutes’ walk from the impressive Namba Parks and 9 minutes away from the Nankai station. But before you head for the next fun place, invest your time and money in choosing a talisman to ward off sinister things.
Get the latest fashion tips at Amerika-Mura
Amerika-Mura a.k.a. Amemura is the hub of western-oriented youth culture. The area has around 2000 retro-themed stores selling vintage local and imported clothing, fashion accessories, surfing accessories from Hawaii, vintage guitars, second-hand books and records, restaurants, cafes and clubs. Nightlife is at its peak here bars and clubs playing American rock and hip hop music, many of which are run by westerners.
The area is the most favourite hideout of people with creative streaks in them. Sankaku Koen Park is where young people throng to show off their skills and passions in fashion. Of course, you can head here, if you need fashion tips because you will get to know what is trending and what is not. Creativity is not limited to clothes here, the area is filled with street art, street food, galleries and cafes. During weekends, the park is the venue for flea markets, music performances and fashion shows.
See the living forms of your favourite anime characters at Den Den Town.
Den Den Town is Namba’s geek and anime land. The place got its name from “Denki no Machi” or “Electric Town”. The neighbourhood is a replica of Tokyo's Akihabara, with the streets packed with gadgets, anime merchandises and hobby stores. Japan is the birthplace of an umpteenth number of brands such as Canon, Casio, Panasonic, Nikon, etc. The plus point of Den Den Town is that you will get such brand items at amazing prices. Get done with your worries, if it is your wallet that is holding you back from venturing out into the streets of Den Den because the stores in the neighbourhood have varieties of items, to go in sync with different types of wallet volume. If your stars favour your trip to the neighbourhood, you will get to witness some very good sights of people decked up as anime and manga characters. Well, they are proud to be dressed in such costumes. So don’t forget to take a few pictures, for they love to be photographed.
Have you ever thought of colouring your hair into a bizarre pink or violet? Before you actually put your desire into action, check out how you will look in such colours at the fun-packed area. Refresh your tummy and spirit in the themed restaurants and cafes nearby and brace yourself to win a stuffed toy from one of the claw machines. If you want to get a Kimono as a souvenir for yourself, but are strapped in cash, Den Den will solve your worries with stocks of pre-owned Kimonos, in all colours, patterns and sizes, all ready to go home.
Douse the statue Fudo-Myo with water and get your wish fulfilled, at Houzenji Yokocho
Houzenji Yokocho means ‘the street beside Houzenji’. It is the narrow, stone-paved alley lined with traditional shops, eateries, taverns, etc. The ambience within Houzenji is in stark contrast to that of Dotonbori shopping area, which lies in the south of Houzenji Yokocho. While Dotonbori celebrates the contemporary, Houzenji is pervaded with the spirit of bygone centuries. Walking through it is like travelling a few centuries backwards through a time machine.
Both sides of the alleyway are adorned with tea rooms, restaurants, taverns, souvenir shops and others, all too richly designed and decorated in the styles of the Edo period. While restaurants and taverns in other Yokochos are shabby looking, with menus listing cheap dishes, the restaurants here are all about elegance and sophistication. They serve some of the best foods like Kushi Katsu, Okonomiyaki, Teppanyaki, Kushiage, Duck Nabe or Japanese Hot pot, etc. A place that has left many a good impression on visitors is Matsusakagyu Yakiniku M. It has received several awards and recognitions. While you are in Houzenji Yokocho, do not forget to try Osaka’s specialities and Japanese sake which is served in the most traditional manner.
The temple of Houzenji once stood right beside the Houzenji Yokocho alley but during WWII, it succumbed to a bomb attack and was completely wiped off from the ground. What remains is only the statue of Fudo Myo, a Buddhist spirit and a representation of discipline and moral character.
Around 80 years back, a woman poured water over the statue and prayed fervently to get one of her wishes fulfilled. Surprisingly, she got what she had prayed for, and since then, the statue has been revered as a wish-granting structure. Today, the statue is thickly enveloped with moss, with people, repeatedly pouring water over it and making wishes.
Walk deep down the alley and discover the woodblock museum, you can even make your own block here if you are willing to pay a few bucks. As you go along, grab a few handmade souvenirs because they are not the time that will be found just anywhere. The place takes a completely different avatar at night with lanterns lighting up the whole alleyway and the grounds watered, to give the place a magical touch, with the reflection of lights from the lantern falling on the wet grounds twinkling up the whole place.