Osaka was on of the host cities for the World Cup in 2002. 3 games took place in the Nagai Stadium:
12 June 2002: Nigeria 0:0 England
14 June 2002: Tunisia 0:2 Japan
22 June 2002: 1/4-Final - Senegal 0:1 Turkey
47'000 Fans can enjoy the athmosphere in that rather old stadium (built in 1964). To make the stadium ready for the games, it had some major renovations for US$380 Million!
If you like martial arts, go to Imabari, on the island of Shokaku. There you can study traditional Japanese martial arts from some of the best instructors in the world. In addition, Imabari is generally cheaper than Osaka, and has better scenery (it's right on the coast of the Seto Inland Sea).
Equipment: Bring a judo gi or whatever you usually use for your sport. If you don't have gear with you (like for kendo) you can probably get something there.
Websites with more information:
Osaka has two major league baseball teams, the Hanshin Tigers and the Kinetsu Buffalos, but by far the most popular team is the Tigers. From what their devoted fans told me, the Tigers have a long history of being lovable losers, making them the equivalent of the Boston Red Sox or Chicago Cubs in the United States. But, fortunately for me, when I saw the game versus the Hiroshima Carp, the Tigers were actually in first place -- which made the fans especially rapid even though it was quite early in the season (only May).
Because most of the better seating was sold out, I ended up having to get bleacher seats, which put me smack dab in the middle of the MOST fervent Tigers fans -- the ones with the band and cheerleaders in front of them. I was alone, but the guy sitting next to me adopted me despite the fact we did not share a common language except that of baseball. He would tell me each player's name, position then give me a thumbs up or down depending on whether he was good or not. Then he's teach me the song they would sing for each player while he batted. My voice was gone by the end of the game, but I have become a lifelong Tigers fan. Oh, yeah, the Tigers won.
It is customary to jump in the Dotonbori River to celebrate the success of a sporting team. If your visit to Osaka coincides with a big victory for a local or national team, it'll be worthwhile heading down to Namba to watch the post-match party.
Over 1 million fans coverged on the area around Dotonbori bridge in September 2003 when the Hanshin Tigers won baseball's Central League pennant. 5000 of them jumped into the river!
Again, another tip for people who are going to be in Osaka for a while. Osaka Municipal Pool initially appears to be a large bomb shelter as it is underneath a manmade hill with a weird metal lid.
A gym is a gym at the end of the day and the ones in Osaka seem to be much of a muchness, with similar prices, opening times and equipment.
The big advantage of this one is that they do a special deal where you can get 11 entry passes for 6,000 yen. This will save you money unless you always use the gym 3 or more times a week, as the monthly price is also 6,000 yen.
This is more of a tip for people who are living in Osaka, or staying here for some time. Osaka Municipal Pool is yet another piece of Osakan architecture that is trying to look like it may take off at any moment.
The pool costs 700 yen a visit and is a good place to cool off when the heat gets too much in the summer. There are also monthly pass options available.
During the winter, they have an icerink for people who want to practice falling over with (or, in my case, without) style.
Osaka Dome is the home of the Kintetsu Buffaloes (formerly Osaka Buffaloes until they went bust and had to merge with another team).
Regular games are staged in the 50,000 seater indoor stadium throughout the season, and the dome also plays host to the Hanshin Tigers (Kansai's biggest baseball team, who play in the central league) for a few games each year.
Keep your eye open for the special entry price nights, such as Womens nights and Salarymen nights (when anyone with an Alien registration card can get in for 500 yen).
Live music and major dance events are also held here on occasion.
If you decide to go to the Sumo, note that it is perfectly ok to bring in your own food and drinks (including alcohol, as pictured here).
The prices inside aren`t that bad inside, but the range of food available is not very good. You can buy snacks cheaply from a convenience store en route to the arena (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium).
Sumo is great to watch and takes place in Osaka over 15 days each year. It always starts on either the first or the second Sunday in March.
Reserved seats at the sumo start at 7000 yen, but it is possible to get a much cheaper ticket.
1. Try to go between Monday and Thursday.
2. Arrive at Osaka Gymnasium before 1pm.
3. Just go to the main ticket collection booth and ask for general admission prices. Depending on how many tickets have been sold, you can get a ticket for between 1800 and 3000 yen.
These tickets are non-reserved so you have to get up and move if the ticket holders arrive for the seat you are sitting in. Sometimes ticketing staff do not sell these tickets to non-Japanese because they are concerned that you don't understand this rule so stress that you do if challenged.
If you have a non-reserved ticket, try to sit somewhere where there are no eating utensils in front - these indicate that reserved ricket holders have ordered snacks with their ticket and will be along sooner rather than later.
Dotombori Bridge in Namba is a great place to hang out and people watch at any time, but by far and a way the best time to visit the bridge is after a major sporting event (notably the end of the baseball league season). At these times, fanatic supporters strip off naked and jump from the bridge into the filthy canal below.
A friend of mine jumped in after the 2002 World Cup and was ill for quite a while after - make sure you are up to date with your shots if you intend to join in!
Not to be missed!
Osaka people love their sport, and whenever a local or national team has a big win, it is customary for fans to jump into the Dotonbori River. Unfortunately this is one of the dirtiest rivers in Japan.
When the local baseball team seemed headed toward a national title in 2003, city mayor Fusae Ota ordered the area under the bridge cleared of debris, fearing injuries to jumpers. Among other things, 314 bicycles were hauled from the river!
This picture was taken after Japan's victory over Tunisia in the 2002 World Cup.
I'd hoped to be able to travel to all of the competing cities for the 2008 Olympic Games during my trip - Toronto (home), Osaka, Beijing, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Istanbul, Cairo, Paris and Seville, but circumstances left me hanging without a thread after Japan, so I had to leave the Asian Rim, then when I reached Europe, I got centralized, and couldn't reach the eastern or western cities... ah, well... maybe in another 8 or 12 years...