Port of Osaka
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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.
Top Osaka Itineraries
Silver Shadow15 Night Far East CruiseTokyo , Osaka, Osaka, Hiroshima, Beijing, Beijing, Shanghai, Shanghai, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Hong KongNow
Diamond Princess8 Night Far East CruiseTaipei , Tokyo , Osaka, TaipeiNow
Diamond Princess12 Night Southeast Asia CruiseTokyo , Osaka, Taipei , Hong Kong, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City , SingaporeNow
Silver Whisper14 Night World CruiseBali, Manila, Taipei , Osaka, Osaka, TokyoNow
Viking Orion92 Night Grand Pacific ExplorerAuckland, Auckland, Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hobart, Melbourne, Sydney , Sydney , Newcastle , Brisbane, Whitsundays, Cairns, Thursday Island, Darwin, Darwin, Komodo Island, Lombok, Bali, Bali, Singapore, Kelang , Bangkok , Bangkok , Bangkok , Sihanoukville, Sihanoukville, Ho Chi Minh City , Ho Chi Minh City , Ho Chi Minh City , Da Nang, Hanoi, Hanoi, Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Taipei , Kagoshima, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, Hiroshima, Osaka, Tokyo , Tokyo , Tokyo , Kodiak, Seward, Icy Strait, Sitka, Ketchikan, VancouverNow
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.
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.
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.