Osaka (Photo:cowardlion/Shutterstock)
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating

By Cruise Critic Staff

Port of Osaka

Osaka is part "Shogun" and part "Lost in Translation." Tidy Buddhist temples rub up against modern hotels and pachinko parlors. In the center of town, the iconic Osaka Castle and its ancient moats and beautiful grounds are ringed by high-rises. Flattened during World War II, Osaka is a tangle of bridges, elevated roadways and skyscrapers, but surprisingly, Ferris wheels are also a big part of Osaka's visual signature, throbbing at night in neon color.

About Osaka


Pro

The port is situated within a short walk of the Osaka Aquarium and other popular tourist sites

Con

It's at least an hour from both Kyoto and Nara, which boast ancient temples and palaces

Bottom Line

It's a modern cruise terminal offering good subway transport into the city center and beyond


Find a Cruise to Asia



With 2.6 million people, Osaka is Japan's third-largest city after Tokyo and Yokohama. Another 1.5 million businesspeople and students crowd into town on weekdays. The city, located at the mouth of the Odo River on Osaka Bay, has a high energy quotient, which ticks up several notches at night when people spill into the entertainment and restaurant districts. And there are thousands of restaurants. Osaka has a longstanding reputation as "the kitchen of Japan," a culinary mecca known for its hearty cuisine. It's a city, it is joked, where people eat and go broke.

Osaka is also known for its stylish malls and shopping arcades, basically roofed shopping streets. It's a good thing some cruise ships choose to overnight here. With its many dimensions, Osaka is a town to take your time with.

Where You're Docked

Ships dock at the fabulous Tempozan Pier, which basically puts you smack dab in the center of Osaka's ever-developing waterfront. You can't miss the huge neon-lit Ferris wheel, said to be among the largest in the world. In advance of disembarking, passengers must go through a rigorous immigration inspection, lasting several hours and including fingerprints and photographs.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money

The national currency is the yen -- visit www.xe.com for up-to-the-minute exchange rates. ATM's are plentiful. Credit cards are widely accepted in finer stores and restaurants. Many taxis also now accept credit cards.

Language

Japanese is the language, so don't count on hearing much English spoken or understood. Editor's tip: If you plan on using a taxi, it's a good idea to have your destination written in Japanese characters to show the driver.

Shopping

Fine souvenirs include silk kimonos, porcelain and Japanese pearls. If you're thinking about taking a small gift to someone back home, there's Japanese tea, fans and the rice lotion that Sumo wrestlers rub on their bodies. Osaka is known for its vast underground shopping malls, selling anything and everything. But it also has specialized retail districts selling, for example, electronics and kitchen goods. Two noteworthy shopping destinations: The super-trendy America-Mura, or American Village, a bustling, energetic district popular with teenagers and young people, and Shinsaibashi-Suji, which is signature Osaka with its many shops, both traditional and fashionable.