Destination: Namba City (Osaka, Japan)

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Edited to remove a slightly inaccurate reference to Japanese – see the comments for details.

Namba Station could easily be considered the heart of southern downtown Osaka (Minami, or ‘South’, is another name). On one hand there is all the shopping and eating you’d expect from an area where several subway lines converge, while the other hands holds a large area to walk around and meander around this foreign city. It’s definitely not Seoul – but it would be difficult to tell the differences sometimes.

Edited to remove a slightly inaccurate reference to Japanese – see the comments for details.

Namba Station could easily be considered the heart of southern downtown Osaka (Minami, or ‘South’, is another name). On one hand there is all the shopping and eating you’d expect from an area where several subway lines converge, while the other hands holds a large area to walk around and meander around this foreign city. It’s definitely not Seoul – but it would be difficult to tell the differences sometimes.
Navigation can be a real challenge, especially considering the layout. It helps to remember that it’s not just one station – the Osaka subway system has three lines that stop here, along with several private companies including Nankai, JR, Kintesu, and Hanshin. The result is a cluster of subway / train stations, some of which are connected underground.
Start by walking around the underground areas connected to the subway lines – these can easily take hours alone. Plenty of clothing stores – including the Takashimaya department store – are about with moderate-to-expensive prices. A few franchises familiar to Korean expats are also around – but I’ll let you spot those for yourself.

One disappointment was the bookstore – I suppose I’ve been spoiled by the selections at Kyobo or Bandi and Luni’s while in Korea, but the only bookstore in the complex (or anywhere nearby, from what I saw) had only a smattering of English-language books.
Dinner at Kotan Ramen was a highlight – the standard ‘point-and-smile’ approach works across the world if you can’t read katakana or kanji. A local beer by the name of Kirinichiban rounded out the meal – not much different from Korean beers, in my non-beer-snob taste.

Some stores are just as whimsical as anything you might see at the COEX mall. Expect whimsical to mean pricey, however – and remember that the yen is pretty strong right now.

Finally venturing outside – there are some signs of the holiday season as you might expect for it being late November.

There’s a full days worth of sights here – and I didn’t even get to Namba Parks, another eight floors of shopping and eating. This shouldn’t the only area you explore if you’re in Osaka, but definitely make it one of them.

Ratings (out of 5 taeguks):
Ease to arrive:

Foreigner-friendly:

Convenience facilities:

Worth the visit:

Directions: From Osaka’s Kansai Airport, take Nankai’s main line to Namba Station. Follow the in-station signs to Namba City – there are plenty of them. Free admission; open from 10am-8:30pm, but some stores may have different hours.

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2009



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