Osaka is known to be the food mecca of Japan. But there is more to food in this buzzing city. So I'd suggest you to make a 2 or 3 nights stop and here are my recommendations of where you can go.
Minami which means South in Japanese, is the area surrounding the Namba station. It's home to the iconic Dotonbori and offers abundance of shops and restaurants.
Dotonbori along the river is the epicenter of Osaka culture - packed full of restaurants and bars with bright neon lights. Do make sure to take a selfie with the LED Glico Man running across the world on the bridge; and drop by Don Quixote to find anything and everything including every Kit-Kat flavour imaginable for your souvenirs.
Hozenji Yokocho Alley is a stone-paved street hidden in the backstreets of Dotonbori. It offers a collection of around 60 small restaurants, izakaya, bars, and eateries, including the famous KIGAWA restaurant I mentioned in the previous post. Stop by the Hozenji temple, say a prayer, and splash some water on the moss-covered Fudo-myo statue, known as Mizukake Fudo.
Shinsaibashi is one of the main shopping area in the southern side of Osaka. Big brands such as Gucci, LV, Chanel have their flagship stores here but you can also find all the high-street marks including all the Japanese brands such as Uniqlo, United Arrows, and BEAMS.
ORANGE STREET, AMEMURA
Tachibana-dori, or Orange Street
Formerly a furniture district, and now a hot-spot for stylish, up-market clothing and homeware stores. My must-go store here Biotop - where you can find cool clothes and homeward and sit at their edgy cafe, people-watching the stylish bunch that passes by. Compared to Amemura (short for America-mura) right next door, Orange street is more sophisticated and less crowded.
Walking distance from Orange street, you will find Amemura full of younger crowds, sneaker shops, and creative and unique shops. The reason why it's called America-Mura (America city) is because during the 70s, many warehouses sold imported good including vintage clothes, jeans, second-hand records from the US (mainly from West Coast). At night, bars and clubs in Amemura are crowded with people who work in the area, musicians, designers, and aspiring dancers.
It's one of the best wet markets in Japan - It's well-known for having the freshest ingredients and is the main spot where chefs shop for their restaurants. It's an experience itself to walk through the arcade full of fresh food stalls - the way people used to shop in Japan before large department stores existed. If you like seafood, make sure to have some fresh-from-the-ocean fish grilled right in front of you!
This is a red-light district of Osaka that will take you on a journey into the past. When you think red-light district, you imagine neon lights! Well not here - it contains an atmosphere of Taisho era (1912-1925) with old buildings with lanterns that illuminate the fronts. As you walk through the streets you will find rows of small homes displaying Japanese girls sitting right at the very entrance for you to check out. A far cry from the touristy areas, Tobita Shinchi, sordid but authentic, offers a very different version, but no less real, image that one has of Japan.
Kaiyukan is one of the largest aquarium in the world. There is a huge tank in the center of aquarium (9m deep) which houses whale sharks as well as many other marine life.
Kita (which means North in Japanese) is the area surrounding the Umeda station - the busiest station in Osaka and a shopping mecca. Stop by Yodobashi-camera is you need to do some electronics shopping. Then head to Grand-front Osaka to find all kinds of brands including many Japanese brands, as well as restaurants on the top floor. If you want to explore a neighborhood away from the huss and buzz of the train station/malls, head over to Nakazakicho - Osaka's hipster paradise, similar to Nakameguro or Koenji in Tokyo. The area is full of traditional buildings that survived the WWII and home to trendy cafes and shops. If vintage clothing is your thing, you definitely need to check this area out!
An obligatory landmark to visit in Osaka is this majestic castle - built upon the orders of shogun Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536 - 1598), in 1583. Unfortunately it was burned during the Siege of Osaka in 1615 and was rebuilt by the Tokugawa Shogunate, which ruled Japan from 1603 - 1867. However, it was again burnt down in 1868 and was reconstructed again in 1931.
So indeed it is beautiful from outside but don't expect to visit the interior of the castle as it has been rebuilt as a museum. The museum inside is somewhat underwhelming except for the view point from the top floor of the castle. From here you can get the overview of the city!
West of the castle is Nishi no Maru Garden, famous for cherry blossoms as there are around 500 cherry trees planted here. In the summer you can enjoy the azaleas and the foliage in autumn so it's an area where you can enjoy all four seasons.