Back to the future in Osaka
In the urban landscape of Osaka, served by a highly-technnological transport network, the future of the archipelago flourishes as extravagantly as the rise of its deep ancestral soul.
Japan's third largest city is a cutting-edge metropolis bestrewn with skyscrapers that include the breathtaking Umeda Sky Building, with its twin towers connected by a fantastic circular observatory, and the Abenobashi Terminal Building, the highest in Japan, which rises to 300 metres. From above, at night, Osaka is a phosphorescent milky way that projects us into the future. Before this 360° panorama, you almost forget that Osaka is located in the Kansai region, south of the large island of Honshu and facing the island of Shikoku, where Japanese history is rooted. Fortunately, as a reminder, Osaka Castle stands proud, a symbol of the reunification of the Japanese archipelago. It was the field of prestigious battles and major wars in the history of Japan.
Through the middle runs a river, the Yodo, which flows into Osaka Bay and its multiple and bewildering urban attractions, its complexes, its huge exhibition centre, and its beautiful aquarium… Further down the map, in the south of the city, beats the heart of Japan with the country's oldest Buddhist shrine, the Shitennō-ji Temple, near Tennōji Park. Within the latter, the whole aesthetic of the Japanese garden awaits you, with its pond full of turtles, carp, and water lilies, its century-old trimmed shrubs, its cherry blossoms and small bridges, and, of course, its tea pavilion. The garden was designed over a ten-year period at the end of the 19th century by the legendary Ueji. A century and a few subway stations separate it from the hanging gardens of Namba Parks, which transform Osaka's Namba neighbourhood into a green Babylon of the future.
Leaving the underground shopping malls in the northern district of Kita, you descend towards Dōtonbori, attracted by the culinary reputation of the neighbourhood, renowned as both the Osakaite 'Times Square' and the ‘belly' of the nation. In a joyous confusion—Osaka is less policed than Tokyo—you can walk the colourful, gourmet streets and discover, around the corner of an alley, away from the crowds and the extravagant shopping, the soul of the old Osaka of the Edo epoch, quivering like a firefly.
Take advantage of your stay to discover the Osaka area: Kyoto, of course, but also Kobe, Hiroshima, Nara, and Himeji Castle.