Osaka Aims To Be Asia’s No. 1 City For Tourism, Culture

Osaka Aims To Be Asia’s No. 1 City For Tourism, Culture

The city of Osaka, with its history of over 1,500 years as a commercial capital of Japan, aspires to be Asia’s number one city for international tourism and culture.

One of the key events poised to transform this dream into reality is the 2025 World Exposition in Osaka (Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai), located in the Kansai region, that is scheduled to take place from April 13 to Oct 13, 2025, on Yumeshima island in the Osaka Bay area.

The largest city in western Japan, Osaka – with its cultural diversity – has many similarities with Malaysia, according to Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau president Hiroshi Mizohata.

“It is a city of co-prosperity that accepts many different worldviews and values, attracting people with a spirit of challenge,” he told Bernama during a visit to the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau office here recently.

The visit was in conjunction with the Osaka promotion programme organised by the Japan External Trade Organisation (Jetro) to introduce Expo 2025 Osaka, Kansai as well as promote Osaka’s attractions.

More Malaysians are visiting Osaka now. Based on statistics from the Osaka Convention & Tourism Bureau, the number of visitors from Malaysia to Osaka between July and September 2023 increased 120 percent to 34,000 compared to the same period in 2019.

 

FLOURISHING PORT CITY

 

Mizohata said the city’s goal leading up to 2030 is to exemplify Osaka as a world-class city for living, working, studying and travelling.

“The three pillars of Osaka’s tourism strategy are ‘anytime, anywhere and anybody’ that underscores something to see 24 hours a day as a travel hub for all regions in Japan and as a diverse and vibrant destination,” he said, adding as an international tourism and cultural city, they are also environmentally conscious and promote zero-carbon initiatives.

Historically, Osaka was one of the first capitals of Japan during the seventh century. It then went on to flourish as a port city and the Dojima Rice Exchange, considered the world’s first commodity futures market, was established there in the 17th century.

As for its plethora of sightseeing spots, the Dotonbori area is one of Osaka’s most famous tourist destinations and is also known as the “Venice in the Kansai region of Japan”.

 

SIGHTSEEING SPOTS

 

Tourists can take a cruise by boat on the Dotonbori canal and be immersed in the lively and colourful atmosphere exuded by the shops and brightly-lit billboards in the area’s teeming streets.

Among the famous sights here is the 20-metre-tall signage of a man – dubbed the Glico man – with his arms raised in a victory pose, near the Shinsaibashi shopping area above the Ebisu bridge

The bright LED signage, erected by Japanese confectionary company Glico in 1935, has been greeted by hordes of foreign as well as Japanese tourists who grab the best spots to take photographs below the signage and on the bridge.

Other attractions in Dotonbori are the lively and colourful animatronic figures of the mechanical drum-playing clown known as Kuidaore Taro, an octopus and other cartoon characters displayed in front of restaurants.

The iconic Kani Doraku restaurant with a giant crab animatronic at its entrance offers a wide selection of crab dishes – enough to whet the appetite of tourists.

Osaka is generally a food paradise but Dotonbori, incidentally, is known for its kuidaore culture which supposedly means “eat till you drop” – however, it can also mean “spending on food till you go bankrupt”!

Among the specialities available here are takoyaki or flour-based battered octopus balls; okonomiyaki, which is Osaka’s soul food; and kushi-katsu, which is deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables.

Chibo, a famous restaurant in Dotonbori, specialises in okonomiyaki, a savoury pancake made from flour, vegetables, seafood and meat.

Yoshiaki Koyama, a chef at Chibo, said the taste of its okonomiyaki has not changed much since the restaurant was founded in 1973.

“The mayonnaise and sauce used to make okonomiyaki are all made by Chibo, which is unique to the Chibo style. While the process of making okonomiyaki has changed with time, the taste has not changed much,” he said.

Elsewhere in Osaka, the Osaka Castle is another spectacular landmark and main tourist spot that reflects Osaka’s rich history 450 years ago.

The castle, with its impressive façade embellished in gold, was built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a samurai (warrior) and daimyo (feudal lord), during a tumultuous period of war and it played a pivotal role in Hideyoshi’s power and ambition to unify Japan.

 

Source– Bernama (Christine Lim) Fokus Bernama

 

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