While teaching in Korea, I have had the great pleasure of traveling all over Asia and that is one of the main reasons why I can’t leave here. I love to travel! Unexpectedly, because of the MERS outbreak, a lot of schools and academies had canceled classes for safety reasons. My branch was one of them and we randomly got two days off in the middle of the week. On a whim, a couple of friends and I decided to fly to Osaka, Japan. Here are the top 3 things that you should do when visiting Osaka.
Universal Studios - Located about 15 minutes outside of Osaka, Universal Studios was one of the places my friends insisted we go to. They really wanted to go to the Wizardly World of Harry Potter. I’m not a huge Harry Potter fan and I really wasn’t expecting to have that much fun there, but it was one of the best rides I have ever been on. If you are a Harry Potter fan, this place is for you. It is a 4-D ride where your car swings up and down as you follow Harry on his adventures. I hadn’t laughed like that in a long time. Afterwards, go grab a Butterbeer and head to the candy shop where you can purchase some Harry Potter memorabilia. Also, the roller coaster at Universal Studios is a must. You have to try going forward once and then go on the ride backwards after. Like most theme parks, the food is overpriced so I suggest eating at CityWalk right outside.
Osaka Castle - This park where the castle sits on is huge! I felt like we were walking between moats and walls to get to the actual castle from the train station. The park is frequently visited by many foreigners and is one of the most famous places in Japan. If you are a history buff, this is a must visit due to its over 400 years of history. To enter the park is free, but to enter the museum within the castle is 600 yen and you can climb to uppermost points of the castle. Furthermore, Osaka Castle Park is one of the most famous places in the entire world if you love Cherry Blossom festivals. So this is a wonderful place to go spend a leisurely afternoon in Osaka.
Namba/Shinsaibashi Area - This is yet another famous area part of Osaka due to its food! This area is the origin for “kuidaore” or “eat ‘til you drop”. Here you can find some of the more humble and older restaurants next to some of the most popular ones in Osaka. The Dotombori section is a must and you know you are in it when you see some of the outlandish restaurant signs all over the street. But Namba isn’t just for eating, it is also a fantastic place for shopping. Many of the younger fashionistas of Japan can be found shopping here. Furthermore, this area is great for nightlife with a wide variety of club, pachinko parlors, and coin arcades. If you do choose to try pachinko, make sure you know how to play. This was my second time trying it and I still have no idea what I was doing. If you decide to spend some time in the coin arcades, just realize that it is pretty difficult to win their giant stuffed animals in the claw machines.
Overall, Osaka was one of my favorite trips that I had taken while living here in Korea. It’s only an hour and a half flight away and all of the major points of interest are walking distance to each other. I find that the Japanese people are extremely nice as they literally walked with us to different locations (especially our hotel) when we were lost. Although many of them do not know English, they really did try their best to help us. Furthermore, every major station has a tourism center with friendly English speakers that can help you plan your trip while you are there. Without a doubt, I will go to Osaka once again!
After working for five years in banking, Marc decided that it was time for a change before he got too old. He left the stress from his 9-5 job to do something new and different. After coming to Korea with a group of buddies, he landed in the Gangdong Branch in Eastern Seoul. When he's not teaching and doing head instructor duties, he is out about traveling Korea, looking for the new, old, and undiscovered places to visit. Follow him on Twitter @geonmakku and on Instagram @geonmakku for the latest happenings in South Korea.