Top 8 Intriguing Facts You Probably Don’t Know But Should About Osaka, Japan- Osaka Bay

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Port of Osaka, Kansai Region, Japan

Lying at the mouth of Osaka Bay on the coastal plain of Yudo River is one of Japan‘s leading port, the Port of Osaka. Known in the olden times as “Naniwazu”, it served as the embarkation point for ships sailing to and from the Korean Peninsula and China. These days, this port handles more than 80 million tonnes of cargo every year with trade links to 140 countries in the world.

The Port of Osaka spans 4.8 thousand acres and incorporates 181 berths that include 70 for international shipments, 110 for inland trade and 13 berths for containerized cargo. It handles various shipments such as iron, iron ores, vehicles, automotive parts, steel, wood pulp, agricultural products, paper, construction materials like cement. In addition to it, this port has also a ferry terminal handling a million passengers annually.

A Brief Overview on Osaka

A city that takes pride of its 1,400 years of history, even in the ancient times Osaka was already a trading center from places near and far most especially in Asia. It used to be known as “Naniwazu” and had exchanged goods with China and Korea, these two countries did not only bring their merchandise and knowledge but also Buddhism which spread swiftly all throughout Japan. In 645 A.D. Naniwazu was declared the capital of Japan by Emperor Kotoku until 655 A.D. when it was moved to Asuka (now modern day Kyoto), though at that time Naniwazu was already thriving with temples and a burgeoning cultural vibe.

Beginning with the 15th century, Naniwazu came to be known as Osaka while it grew remarkably as a military and economic center of the country. The Buddhist priest Rennyo built a fortified temple in the area in 1532 but was destroyed half a century later by the powerful warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi and built Osaka Castle on the site in 1583. The Tokogaza shogunate drove out the Toyotomi clan during the siege of Osaka Castle in 1615 and set out to establish Osaka as a full-pledged castle town, building canals for transport, bringing in merchants and artisans that made the city prosperous even to this day.

Osaka was diminished to ruins during World War II but the city made an exceptional upswing after the war. The first world exposition in Asia, the 1970 Osaka Expo, was held in this city which became the emblem of Japan‘s rapid financial growth. Today, Osaka stands colossal as a city in Japan that attracts people from around the world with its delectable cuisine, distinctive history and culture as well as innumerable options for entertainment and leisure.

Map showing the location of Osaka.

Located on the island of Honshu, we had arrived at Osaka via the bulk carrier IVS Kingbird on January 2016. There is so much to know about this bustling port city, from being the cuisine capital of Japan to having the tallest Ferris wheel in the world. A distinct amalgam of ancient traditions and staggering technological modernization, this city is absolutely worth spending a visit, so let’s take a look at the top intriguing facts you probably don’t know but should about the city of Osaka.

Cradle of the Takoyaki

Dotonbori area in Osaka, home of the takoyaki.

Arguably Japan‘s street food capital and a top intriguing fact you probably don’t know but should, Osaka is the birthplace of the takoyaki. This iconic soul food in the Kansai Region which is made up of chopped octopus (tako) in flour and dachi (dough), baked or grilled (yaki) in a round-shaped ball has been “invented” by a street vendor in Osaka named Tomekichi Endo in 1935. Inspired by akashiyaki, a small round dumpling from the nearby city of Akashi, takoyaki is eaten as a snack during Japanese summer festivals but you can enjoy more of this at Dotonburi which is the famous food district in Osaka.

Famous In the World for Whity Umeda Underground Mall

It seems to stretch forever and a top intriguing fact you probably don’t know but should that Osaka is famous for its maze-like underground mall called Whity Umeda. This subterranean mall is a cross between Champs Elysees in Paris and Milan, Italy. Filled with diverse stores ranging from restaurants, retail shops and service outlets, it has a fountain at the middle that features the relaxing sounds of water and a projected light to fascinate shoppers in this underground mall.

Realm of the Iconic Japanese Landmark, the Osaka Castle

A top intriguing fact you probably don’t know but should that the famous Japanese beacon, the Osaka Castle which is often featured in postcards and travel magazines is in Osaka. A must-see attraction in every traveler’s list when you’re visiting this city, Osaka Castle was built in 1583 where a temple had once stood and was the event of several conflicts and wars then reconstructed several times in the succeeding centuries. Perched on a hill and towering over the skycrapers of Osaka, it has also a huge park which is visited by millions of tourists during the hanami festival (cherry blossom season).

Home of Japan’s Big Companies: Panasonic, Sharp and Sanyo

Panasonic Headquarters, Osaka

Osaka is not just a familiar spot on the Japanese tourist circuit but the genesis of Panasonic, Sharp and Sanyo, some of Japan‘s biggest companies – a top intriguing fact you probably don’t know but should. Where tradition and innovation synchronize, the city’s location being at the meeting point of a river and sea routes is a big factor in making Osaka a great place for traders.

Site of the 1st Universal Studios in Asia

On March 2001, a top intriguing fact you probably don’t know but should, Universal Studios Japan was opened at the Osaka Bay area, the 1st to be built in Asia under the Universal Studios line. The 4th most popular theme park in the world, USJ is a collaboration of Universal Studios magic and Japanese expertise. A fun day-out in Osaka, this huge theme park is easily accessible from the city center and it has a plethora of things to keep you busy the whole day.

It Got the Largest Aquarium in the World – Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Rated as one of Asia‘s best attraction and a top intriguing fact you probably don’t know but should, Osaka Aquarium or Kaiyukan is the largest aquarium in the world. Located at Tempozan Harbor Village by the Osaka Bay area, this is also Japan‘s most spectacular aquarium as it features numerous forms of marine life in the Pacific rim in an impressive manner. Its engaging layout begins with an elevator ride for you to the 8th floor, then pass via a transparent tunnel-shaped Aqua Gate that puts you “underwater” among fishes as you continue down to Japan Forest, a greenery then proceed lower to a spiral path of other exhibits like Gulf of Panama (animals native to Panama), Great Barrier Reef (corals and fishes in Australia), Antartica (presents penguins endemic in Antartica), etc..then finally to the star of the aquarium, down at Sea of Japan level, the Pacific Ocean show of the whale shark.

Zone of the 9th Tallest Ferris Wheel in the World, Tempozan Ferris Wheel

The Osaka Bay area does not only harbors Japan’s largest aquarium but also takes pride of having the 9th tallest Ferris wheel in the world, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, a top intriguing fact you probably don’t know but should. Soaring at 112.5 meters into the air and a diameter of 100 meters, it will take you a 15-minute ride up to the sky with a view of Rokko Mountains and Kansai International Airport. Tempozan Ferris Wheel also features colorful lights and weather forecast for the following day.

A Mecca of the Nissin Instant Noodles

Just a short walk from the Ikeda train station outside the center of Osaka is the Ando Instant Ramen Museum (Cup Noodles Museum), a top intriguing fact you probably don’t know but should and a must-see if you love instant noodles. Dedicated to the effort of Momofuku Ando who created the first instant Chicken Ramen on August 25, 1958 to solve the shortage of noodles in Osaka after World War II, this museum was constructed on the same spot where Ando made his first instant noodles at his backyard in Ikeda district. It has a workshop that allows you to make your own fresh instant noodles or you may sample special edition of cup noodles endemic in particular countries.

The second largest city in Japan, Osaka is sometimes overlooked by visitors in favor of Tokyo or nearby Kyoto, but this food capital has so much to offer besides takoyaki or selfies at the Osaka Castle. Renowned all over the world for its fun and outgoing residents, this will add “flavor” to your unforgettable experience in the city. I strongly recommend to make Osaka a priority in your bucket list because this port city is bustling with a lot of things to do and see.

Reference: Wikipedia