Welcome to Osaka. Known as Japan’s Kitchen, Osaka is a delightful city that has a different vibe than any other city I have been to in Japan.
Osaka is a massive city to begin with (second largest city in Japan). When we arrived in November 2019 we had to go from Shin-Osaka Station to Namba Station and it was a journey, showing the scale of how big the city is. We stayed in Namba, a vibrant metro area that had a ton of restaurants and bars around, making it fun to explore. And while Osaka is very crowded and busy, it is more laid back when compared to Tokyo.
There were more people hanging outside, relaxing, taking in the sights and having a beverage. Even on the subways, I noticed people were more talkative with each other compared to how quiet people are on Tokyo subways. Restaurants were a little more lively and the vibe of the city while walking around was just a more relaxed version of Tokyo with different restaurants around the area. It just felt more easy going compared to Tokyo which can be very mechanical at times. It was the urban sprawl of Tokyo but also had the relaxed vibes of a smaller town that you don’t often see in Japan.
Osaka is a beautiful city that often has that gritty feel to it, a more relaxed feel to it while still being a huge metro area like Tokyo. It’s a strange combination.
Personally, I loved Osaka compared to Kyoto. Osaka is a fun, modern city that has all the busyness of Tokyo, but not as crowded and with a much easier going/friendly crowd. I’m not saying people in Tokyo aren’t friendly, they are, but people in Osaka are a little warmer when you approach them with a question on the streets. They are not running as often to their next business building (you will see more people relaxing outside with a beverage). It is a city that you must go see when you make your travel plans for Japan and a city I wish I had more time in and want to visit once again because it is so amazing.