Spending a whole day inside a station is not exactly the first thing you would think about while on a trip. However, it can be the ideal solution in many situations!
For example, let’s say that you have a few hours to kill before heading to the airport or taking your shinkansen and don’t want to risk missing the train by going too far. Or, maybe, it has unexpectedly started raining! Rainy days while on a trip can be discouraging, but you don’t need to be stuck inside your hotel room or go to a museum to spend your time! (Of course, if you’re interested in art and culture I highly encourage you to visit some of the beautiful museums in Osaka).
No matter the reason, I’ll show you how to spend the whole day without stepping outside Osaka station! Being the biggest and busiest station in Western Japan, I assure you that you will not only have fun, but, by the end of the day, you’ll feel like you haven’t explored enough.
TIP: If you have luggage or heavy bags, the first thing to do would be to find a coin locker where to leave your belongings. Coin lockers are everywhere and usually you can leave your luggage (even the big ones) for a reasonable fee. Trust me, when walking around Osaka station, the least thing you’ll want to do is having to carry big suitcases: the amount of people you’ll have to avoid bumping into while walking will definitely make you nervous!
North Gate Building
The station is divided into two buildings: the North Gate Building (which is the tallest one) and the South Gate Building. The two buildings are connected at ground floor, but there are also some bridges running between the 3rd and 5th floors. On the 5th floor you’ll find “Toki-no-hiroba”, that could be translated as “Square of the time” (or, maybe, “Time Square”? – pun intended 😉 -).
The Square is a huge space that often hosts seasonal events. You’ll find two beautiful twin clocks at the extremes of the square, a gold and a silver one, and a café and bar called “Caffe Bar del Sole” where you could have something to eat, or maybe a drink, while enjoying the view on the train tracks and platforms.
You’re now ready for some shopping! Our first stop is the North Gate Building. Here you’ll find two department stores: Lucua (on the east side) and Lucua 1100 (on the west side). They’re actually the two wings of one big department store and are connected on the B1, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 7th floor.
If you’re a young couple I would recommend to visit this department first because the fashion stores inside target young customers. Moreover, it’s possible to enjoy shopping together since men’s and ladies’ sections are not kept separated.
If you want a break from shopping, you can head to the 9th floor of Lucua 1100 where you’ll find many cafes inside a bookshop! If you need something more than a coffee to fuel yourselves, go one floor up, on the 10th floor, where you’ll find a gourmet paradise. Spacing from Japanese to Italian, most of the world cuisines are here to be enjoyed: you’ll be spoiled for choice!
After lunch, if you start feeling like you need some fresh air, take some time to enjoy each other’s company in “Yawaragi-no-niwa”, a peaceful garden (as the name suggests) where you can relax with your partner, take some beautiful shots together and find some peace from all the hustle of the station.
Another option for lunch, in a more casual atmosphere, is the B2 floor of Lucua 1100, “Lucua Food Hall”, that has recently been renewed.
“Lucua Food Hall” is a food court, a big indoor open space where you’ll find many food vendors. This area is usually very crowded and lively and there are many lunch options, from the healthy ones (salad bars) to the more gluttonous ones (cream filled sfogliatelle anyone?).
South Gate Building
The South Gate Building mainly hosts Daimaru department store and Hotel Granvia. Daimaru is a high end department store where it’s possible to find many imported brands as well as Japanese ones.
Each floor is dedicated to a specific category of items (cosmetics, women apparel, sport apparel, and so on).
One of the most visited floors is the 13th where there’s a Pokemon Center. If you’re interested, this is a great place where to buy some cute (yet expensive) gadgets!
When you finish, leave the Daimaru Building on your left and exit the South Gate Building. Walk left and, after some steps, you’ll see the famous Water Clock of Osaka Station. This is a beautiful and mesmerising installation that displays time as well as greetings in many languages with timed drops of water.
Grand Front Osaka
Located north of Osaka Station, and directly accessible from a walkway on the 2nd floor of the station, Grand Front Osaka is a “town spreading out at the gateway to Osaka and featuring the greenery and water of Nature”, as its official website describes it.
A lot of space is given to open-air squares, with beautiful fountains and trees, where you can enjoy walking with your partner, but, of course, you’ll find a wide variety of shops and restaurants as well as the Panasonic Center. The Panasonic Center is an interactive showroom where you can find inspiration for your home interior by experimenting with different room types and lighting effects: the perfect place if you’re newlyweds or about to get married and planning for your first home together.
If you’re interested in some electronic goods, Yodobashi Camera, with its 6 floors, is the place for you! You can get here directly from Grand Front Osaka, on the 2nd floor.
This place is renowned for a huge selection of goods: from computers to digital cameras and any type of home appliance. The prices are also very competitive and attract many tourists.
If your partner has a thing for technology but you don’t…then, make sure to avoid this place or you’ll be stuck here all day!
HEP 5 is a department store that targets young adults and teenagers and is located very close to Hankyu Umeda Station. It’s very easy to spot because of the huge red ferris wheel on the top, that has become one of the landmarks of Osaka. From Osaka Station you can walk directly to Hankyu Umeda Station as the two stations are connected.
HEP 5 is a popular place for couples. It is pretty unique and you’ll see what I mean the moment you enter it from the main entrance on the 1st floor. Here, in the atrium, waiting to greet you, there’s a giant sculpture of a red whale suspended from the ceiling.
There are many interesting shops inside, including a Disney store and a big Jump Shop, if you’re a fan of anime and mangas. The 8th floor is the “purikura” (photograph booths) floor: make sure to take some funny and cute Japanese-style pictures with your partner. The main attraction of HEP 5 is the Ferris Wheel, accessible from the 7th floor. Inside each gondola there’s an iPod jack where you can plug your iPod in and listen to your favourite music while enjoying your 15 minutes ride. Bring with you your favourite romantic songs and ride the wheel at night…the beautiful night scene will capture your hearts and make you live a very romantic moment.