It even gave our reporter a profound experience!

You may know that one of our Japanese-language reporters, Seiji Nakazawa, is originally from Osaka, the third-largest city in Japan. Osaka is a vibrant place with a different culture from Tokyo, and there’s lots of sightseeing to do and delicious local food to eat there, so it’s on the top of a lot of visitors’ bucket lists.

However, despite being an Osakan, Seiji doesn’t have a particular Osaka sightseeing spot he really recommends. He says it’s probably enough to go shopping at the Tsutenkaku tower area, which is pretty much a quintessential sightseeing spot, and to catch a glimpse of Osaka Castle from the Osaka loop line (in his opinion there’s no need to even go inside). As a local, he doesn’t have much of a tourist’s mind when it comes to his hometown.

That’s why he wanted to find out more about how to entertain guests, or visitors, to his home city. So, during his latest visit back home, Seiji asked an expert in guest entertainment to give him a recommendation for a great sightseeing spot in Osaka. This expert is a salaryman at heart who weathered both the inflation and the bursting of the economic bubble in Osaka. He has been welcoming people to Osaka and entertaining them for over 40 years. He is…

Seiji’s dad!

When Seiji was a child, this quintessential Showa-era office warrior rarely came home before Seiji was in bed because he was often busy entertaining important corporate guests. In fact, Seiji has a memory of acknowledging his dad as someone he only saw on the weekends. That’s how his dad became a master of entertaining in Osaka.

That’s why Seiji went to interview him at his house (which is also Seiji’s childhood home) about his most-recommended sightseeing spot in Osaka. In Seiji’s mind, entertaining clients and business partners meant taking them out drinking, but according to the expert, that’s not always the case. It seems that what you do depends on the person you’re trying to entertain. But there was one spot that was always a hit with not only domestic visitors but also international guests, and it’s a relatively unknown place in Osaka Castle Park.

Seiji wondered how something could be missed in the already popular tourist attraction, so he headed off to Osaka Castle Park to check it out.

When he alighted from the train at JR Osaka-jo Koen Station and emerged from the exit, which was situated at an elevation above the rest of the park, he took a look around to see if he could find the expert’s recommended spot, but it was nowhere to be found. In front of the station was a shopping mall, which hadn’t been there the last time Seiji came to this place many years ago, so maybe they’d torn down his dad’s recommendation?

Seiji decided to go down the stairs and see if that might make it easier to find.


There it is…

The Osaka Castle Pier!

According to our entertainment expert, it’s a given that the water taxis of Osaka, which is known as the “water capital” since about 10 percent of its area is covered with water, should be on everyone’s list of must-see attractions. Seiji had pretty much forgotten that Osaka was thought of as the “water capital” since it doesn’t really have the feel of a water city, but once his dad had mentioned it, it made sense.

However, it was no wonder that no one knew about it, since it was hidden behind a Starbucks. Going back there was almost like stepping foot in a back alley, like any minute now some gangsters would appear and start harassing you.

The entrance to the pier was also nestled at the end of a pathway crowded by trees. Once you muster the courage to go behind the shops, you then have to steel yourself to walk in the dark shadows of these trees. The place was definitely tucked away out of sight.

Unsurprisingly, the crowd around there was definitely thinner than around the shopping area. For reference, after he bought his ticket for the 3:30 Aqualiner, he noticed there were only three other groups waiting to board. The boats do leave every 45 minutes, starting at 11 a.m. and stopping at 4:15 p.m., so maybe earlier times are more popular.

▼ Tickets cost 1,600 yen (US$13.91) for adults and 800 yen for children.

Still, the lines for the water taxis at Asakusa in Tokyo are always insane, so it was a shock to see this taxi so empty. But when Seiji thought about it, maybe it wasn’t so unusual. The city of Osaka wasn’t quite as pretty as the Asakusa or Odaiba areas of Tokyo. Would this tour even be any fun?

But once the boat set off, Seiji was surprised to learn that it wasn’t so much fun as it was profound. First of all, time seemed to move differently on the boat. Whether it was because they were on a river or not, Seiji couldn’t say, but it felt like they were cut off from the flow of time on the shore. Put simply, time moved more slowly on the river. It was a really extraordinary feeling.

In the midst of this strange time warp, the streets and parks they passed looked like something from a foreign country. Or rather, it looked like Osaka, but like Osaka had wandered into another world. Like the ending of the Ghibli movie Whisper of the Heart (caution: spoilers).

The other thing that Seiji realized is that you don’t actually get to see bridges when you’re standing on them. By riding on a boat under them, Seiji was able to really see the city of Osaka for the first time, despite growing up there.

Perhaps because of this strangely enlightened state of mind, even spotting a duck swimming in the river was exciting. Seiji could confidently say, as a 40-year-old man, that it was the cutest duck he’d ever seen. He wanted to book another ride on the boat just to see that duck again.

Though the cruise was 40 minutes long, Seiji said it didn’t feel long at all. On the contrary, he wanted it to go on for a little bit longer. Seiji finally understood the appeal of this boat ride, since it really lets you get a new look at the daily cityscape of Osaka. For that reason, it might actually be more enjoyable for Osaka locals than tourists, though.

Nevertheless, if you’re visiting Osaka, why not buy a ticket for this enlightening boat ride, in between visiting the new Super Nintendo World at Universal Studios Japan, eating Takoyaki, and popping into the surreal-looking Tennoji Zoo? It’s sure to be a great memory of your trip!

Pier Information

Kawa no Eki Osaka Castle Pier / 川の駅 大阪城港
Address: Osaka-fu Osaka-shi Chuo-ku Osaka-jo 2
Hours: 11 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.
Open every day

Images © SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
[ Read in Japanese ]