MUSEUMS IN OSAKA
Museums in Osaka include the National Museum of Ethnology in Osaka (Expo Park), which has an interesting display of items from different cultures from around the world and occasionally has performances of things like Mongolian throat singing; and the Osaka Human Rights Museum (Liberty Osaka), which is dedicated to the hardships endured by the Burakumin people. The Hirakata-Shuki Kagiya Museum in Hirakata contains restorations of Edo-period inns, restaurants and tea houses. There is a life-size replica of a merchant boat and a depiction of a procession of a daimyo.
Among the others are the Wine Museum, Suntory Museum (near Osaka Aquarium), Tempozan Contemporary Museum (near Osaka Aquarium), Osaka City Museum (next to Osaka Castle), Museum of Oriental Ceramic (near Osaka City Hall in Nakanoshima), the Osaka Science Museum (near Osaka City Hall in Nakanoshima), with a planetarium, and the Osaka Prefectural Museum of Yayoi Culture in Sakai. In Sakai there is also the remains of a burial mound built by 800,000 workers.
Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum (in Takarazuka in Hyogo) is another mecca for anime, mnaga and “Japanimation” enthusiasts. Dedicated to Osamu Tezuka, the great master of modern animation and creator of “Tetsuwan Atom” (“Astro Boy”) and Black Jack and other manga and anime characters, the museum features a high-definition TV theater showing his animation works, galleries in which his works are exhibited, as well as a library of his comics. On the real date of April 7, 2003 — the date that Astroboy was born in the manga series — more than 1,000 people showed up at the museum to watch Astroboy being born. See OSAMU TEZUKA, HIS LIFE, MANGA AND ANIME: ASTROBOY, BLACK JACK, BUDDHA AND AYAKO factsanddetails.com ; Admission: ¥700 Tel: 0797-81-2970; Hours Open: Open: 9:30am-5:00pm (enter by 16:30) Closed on Wednesday’ Getting There: Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum , 8-minute walk from JR Takarazuka Station or 5-minute walk from Takarazuka-Minamiguchi Station on Hankyu Line Websites: Osamu Tezuka official site tezukaosamu.net/en/museum; Osaka City site osaka-info.jp
Sakai City Traditional Crafts Museum (in Sakai) is said to be home of the world’s sharpest knives and swords, which are made in Sakai, a suburb of Osaka. Six centuries years ago, when Kyoto was still the imperial capital, nearby Sakai City in Osaka was where the best blades in the world were forged. Even today, local community blacksmiths and sharpeners work in pairs to keep up the tradition, and Sakai City Traditional Crafts Museum explains the forging process. A great variety of knives are exhibited and available in the museum and shop for those interested in learning about this important craft. Location: 1-1-30 Zaimokucho-nishi, Sakai-ku Sakai-shi, Osaka 590-0941.
Museum that are now permanently closed are the Osaka Maritime Museum (Suminoe Ward), with displays of old boats and hands-on simulators that let you try sailing a yacht to guiding a river boat; and the Sumai no Museum (Kita Ward), which embraced 11 structures, including a doll shop, watchtower. cosmetics store and fire watchtower, that collectively recreate an old Osakan street;
Art Museums in Osaka
Art Museums in Osaka include Osaka Contemporary Art Center (near Osaka City Hall in Nakanoshima), Osaka Municipal Museum of Art (Tennoji Park) Chikatsuasula Museum, Idemitsu Museum of Arts, the National Museum of Arts, Umeda Museum of Modern Art, Hashimoto Museum of Art, Daimaru Museum Umeda, Kubosi Memorial Museum of Art, Itsuo Art Museum, and the Navio Museum.
National Museum of Art, Osaka was first established in 1977 and relocated to its current space — the primarily underground César Pelli-designed structure — in 2004. Visitors can only see the winglike arch structure protruding from the ground at first, and have to descend to the basement floors for more. The museum offers excellent r in-house exhibitions. Location: 4-2-55 Nakanoshima, Kita-ku, Osaka-shi, Osaka 530-0005 +81-6-6447-4680
CupNoodles Museum (Ikeda, Osaka) contains a reproduction of the wooden shack where instant noodles were invented by Japanese businessman, Momofuku Ando, in 1958. Also on display is a special vehicle used to bring noodles to victims of the devastating Kobe earthquake in 1995. Opened in November 1999, the two-story museum occupies 1,624 square meters of floor space. There are screens showing famous noodle television commercials and displays of noodle products and noodle vending machines.
Also know as the Instant Ramen Museum, the CupNoodles Museum is run by Nissin Food Holdings Co. in Ikeda and welcomes about 700,000 visitors annually, of which 10 to 20 percent are foreigners, many from China and South Korea. Exhibitions and attractions at the museum include the Chicken Ramen Factory, My CupNoodles Factory, The Birth of Chicken Ramen, Momofuku Ando and the Story of Instant Noodles, Magical Table, CupNoodles Drama Theater, Exhibition of Instant Noodles, Traces of Momofuku Ando, Instant Noodles Tunnel, Tasting Room and the Museum Shop.
Location: CupNoodles Museum Osaka Ikeda, 8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi, Osaka 563-0041 Japan, Tel: 072-752-3484 (Reception time 9:00am– 4:30pm). Hours Open: 9:30am-4:30pm (Last admission is at 3:30pm). Closed: Tuesday (in case Tuesday is a National Holiday, the following day will be a non-business day), Year-end through New Year Holidays Admission: Free. Fees are charged at some facilities in the museum. Chicken Ramen Factory: Elementary school students: 500 yen; Adult (Junior high school students and older): 800 yen. My CupNoodles Factory. 400 yen for each CupNoodles. Getting There: Ikeda Station on the Hankyu Takarazuka Line; approximately a 20 minutes from Hankyu Umeda-OsakaStation via express train. The museum is approximately a 5 min. walk from the Masumi-cho Homen Exit. Website: cupnoodles-museum.jp
Cool Stuff in the CupNoodles Museum
In the Chicken Ramen Factory you can make Chicken Ramen by hand; going through the whole process of kneading, spreading, steaming and seasoning the wheat flour and drying it with the flash frying method. In the My CupNoodles Factory create your own completely original CupNoodles package, which is unavailable anywhere else in the world. For the cup that you design, select your favorite soup from among four varieties as well as four toppings from among 12 varieties.
The Birth of Chicken Ramen is a faithful recreation of the work shed where Chicken Ramen, the world's first instant noodles, was invented. Momofuku Ando and the Story of Instant Noodles tells the story of the invention of instant noodles, the growth of this new industry, and the value of intellectual property are displayed graphically and chronologically. At the Magical Table enhance your understanding of instant noodles while enjoying various quizzes related to instant noodles. CupNoodles Drama Theater is an Interactive theater in the shape of CupNoodles. Anecdotes of inspiration that lead to the invention of the world’s first cup-type instant noodles, CupNoodles and its manufacturing process, etc., are introduced using powerful, large-screen visual images.
Exhibition of Instant Noodles is a colorful exhibit that depicts the worldwide popularization of instant noodles using annual consumption figures of various countries and CupNoodles packages from around the world. Traces of Momofuku Ando marks Momofuku Ando's achievements. His words during his life are introduced through visual images, along with the exhibition of testimonials and actual medals awarded to him.
The Instant Noodles Tunnel displays the instant noodles lineup that started with Chicken Ramen. Approximately 800 product packages shows how a single product introduced more than a half-century ago grew into a global dietary culture. In the Tasting Room try popular favorites like Chicken Ramen and CupNoodles as well as products that are not usually sold in Osaka, such as products sold only in limited areas of Japan. These can be purchased from vending machines and enjoyed in the dining area. The museum shop features original goods from the CupNoodles Museum and other items related to instant noodles. Many of the limited items in the shop are unavailable anywhere else
Suntory Whiskey Distillery
Suntory Yamazaki Distillery (in Shimamoto, Osaka Prefecture, JR Yamazaki Station or Hankyu Oyamazaki Station) provides free guided tours to almost 7000 visitors each year. In 2009, fewer than 1,000 foreign tourists took the distillery tour. That figure rose to about 2,000 visitors in 2012 and nearly 4,000 in 2013. In 2014, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “Australian Phern Rossel and his partner viewed the factory’s casks and distillation stills, and later enjoyed a complimentary glass of whiskey and water. Rossel, 34, called himself a big fan of Japanese whiskey. He said he researched the distillery and made reservations before leaving home. He talked excitedly about feeling the heat coming off the stills. Ten percent of visitors to the site are from overseas, and the company has prepared audio guides in English, French and Chinese, which have proved quite popular. The reason for this popularity is thought to be the recent success of Japanese whiskies at European competitions, as well as positive reviews about the tour posted on discussion forums. Multiple comments in English on the distillery page of the world’s largest travel forum, TripAdvisor of the United States, recommended the tour. It was listed among the site’s top 10 factory and social study tours in Japan for both 2012 and 2013. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, July 22, 2014]
There are two ways to visit Suntory Yamazaki Distillery: 1) Yamazaki Whisky Museum and 2) the factory tour. There is also a museum shop and a tasting counter (for a fee). At the whisky making exhibit you can learn the basics of the long manufacturing process needed to make whisky via the exhibits and miniature models installed along the corridors. The Whisky Library features a wall of several thousand bottles of variety of whiskies, A large exhibit area with a double height features the pot still and the washback that were used at the distillery for many years.
At the Whiskey Museum "The story of the early days in business" exhibit introduced you to the early history of the creation of Suntory Whisky. In "The story of craftsmen, heritage & innovation" exhibit you are introduced to dedication to whisky-making of Yamazaki Distillery, the oldest malt whisky distillery in Japan, and the little-known story of how the single malt whisky "Yamazaki" came to be. At the tasting counter you can try whiskies from around the world and rare whiskies and limited editions. You can sample a range of whiskies, savoring the differences in their flavors, and buy the ones you like and have them shipped home. The gift shop features an array of original Yamazaki Distillery products, including some you'll find nowhere else.
Tours are conducted by factory guides. With their guidance, you can visit the whisky production area and enjoy tasting of the Yamazaki component whiskies. The tour starts with the explanation of the whisky production process. Using the miniature model set up at the start of the tour, guide staff will explain the process of making malt whisky. At the whisky production area you can observe the production process. Guides explain the process. In the warehouse, the distilled malt whisky is divided among various casks for maturation (aging).
Location: Suntory Yamazaki Distillery, 5-2-1 Yamazaki, Shimamoto-cho, Mishima-gun, Osaka, Tel: +81-75-962-142; Hours Open: 9:30am-5:00pm (Last entry at 4:30pm). Closed:Over the New Year's holiday and during distillery shutdowns (some of which are not scheduled in advance) Getting There: Roughly 10 minutes' walk from: 1) JR Yamazaki Station on the JR Tokaido Line about 15 minutes from Kyoto Station and 26 minutes from Umeda, Osaka Station; or 2) Hankyu Oyamazaki Station on the Hankyu Kyoto Line, about 30 minutes from Umeda Osaka Station. Website: suntory.com/factory/yamazaki/
Asahi Beer Factory Tour and Tasting
Asahi Beer Factory (in Suita, Suita Station on the Hankyu Senri Line or JR Kyoto Line) offers free tours that last around 90 minutes. The Asahi Brewery Company is one of Japan's four leading beer breweries. The brewery tours pass through a gallery with displays regarding the history of beer and Asahi and winds its way around parts of the factory, offering views from above through observation windows of various parts of the manufacturing process. As you watch, thousands of cans and bottles of beer go shooting through factory machines at incredibly high speeds!
Beer Production involves boiling down barley to make mash and removing the chaff so the wort can be squeezed out. The bitterness and fragrance of the beer comes from adding hops to the wort and boiling it down again. The entire process takes place in a preparation chamber installed with nine boiling kettles, each 12 meters in diameter. Top quality beer are often made using only the first press of the wort. Fermenting takes place inside huge tanks for a period of one or two months. Visitors can try the first and second press of the wort for comparisons as well as up to three glasses of draft beer drawn straight from the fermenting tanks.
Guides give a tour of the facility, with an easy-to-understand explanation of the manufacturing processes that employ the latest technology based on rigorous quality control. After the tour, visitors are served freshly-brewed draft beer for 20 minutes, and unlimited refills are offered. Soft drinks and other non-alcoholic beverages are provided for minors and those who drove to the site. Language Support: Written displays are in English, Korean, and Chinese.
Tour: Reservations required. The tour takes about 90 minutes, including the beer tasting at the end of the tour Location: 564-0071 1-45 Nishinoshocho, Suita-shi, Osaka, Tel: 06-6388-1943; Fax: 06-6388-1497; Hours Open: 9:30am-3:00pm; Closed; New Year holidays, designated holidays; Getting There: 10-minute walk from Suita Station on the Hankyu Senri Line or JR Kyoto Line; Website: asahibeer.co.jp
Konpeito Candy Museum Tour
The Konpeito museums in Yao and Sakai in Osaka Prefecture, as well as in Fukuoka, show visitors how traditional sugar candies are made. Visitors can make them by hand and take them home. Konpeito Petit is a unique Portugese candy.
Konpeito is a kind of sugar candy that was imported to Japan from Portugal in the 16th century. A visit to this museum includes many activities like meeting the manager of the Konpeito Petit Museum, who is dressed like a Portuguese of old, and asking him why the candy has such a unique shape and how to make it. You can also join the Museum's program to bake "karumera," a Japanese traditional sugar confectionery, and draw a picture with colorful sugar powder. At the Museum shop, Japanese traditional confectionery items are available at reasonable prices. It is recommended that you visit Konpeito Museum in groups of 10 persons or more.
Tour: Weekends and holidays (weekend and holiday reception available with advance reservation) Reservation required by the day from 60 days to 3 days before the visit day. Capacity per viewing Yao factory: 10 persons and over, Sakai factory 3 persons and over; Location: 581-0038 2-88 Wakabayashicho, Yao-shi, Osaka, Tel: 072-948-1339, Fax: 072-948-1015; Hours Open: 9:00am-5:00pm (factory tours), open Monday - Friday; Admission: Kompeito factory tour: ¥1200; Caramel factory tour: ¥800; Sugar art class: ¥800; Getting There: 5-minute walk from Yaominami Station on the Osaka Metro Tanimachi Line. Website: konpeitou.jp
Morino Sample Plastic Food Making
Japan is famous for its realistic plastic replicas of food dishes, which are displayed in the windows of restaurant, snack bars, coffee shops and noodle joints to let customers know what is on the menu. Plastic food first appeared in the 1920s, when restaurants introduced Western food items and they wanted to show potential customers what the food looked like. Today, Japanese plastic food makers produce sweet and sour pork, miso soup, toast, glasses of orange juice, strawberry parfaits, bento-box soba noodles, sundaes with peach slices and sweet beans, fillet mignon, fried eggs, chocolate mouse, French pastries and even Big Macs, spaghetti Neapolitan with floating utensils that sell for $400 and fresh plastic salmon that goes for $1,300.
Morino Sample in Hirano Ward, Osaka is a company that makes plastic food replicas. Each year about 5,000 tourists visit the Morino Sample factory to look around or make replicas of food themselves. Visitors generally make their own original parfait. At Morino Sample, a guided factory tour is available on Saturdays and Sundays (be sure to check the schedule in advance); you can watch craftsmen making food samples, as well as experience making a sample of your own original parfait.
The Yomiuri Shimbun reported in 2014: “On a recent day, a group of 36 tourists from Thailand were attempting to make little model cakes. “Japan is the only place that has food models. I’ll recommend [the factory tour] to my friends,” one group member said. The company said inquiries from overseas have increased sharply recently, so much so that it now has a Chinese employee handling a dedicated phone line. “They’ve made it all the way here, so we want to send them home happy,” said Morino Sample President Fumio Morino, who sometimes gives demonstrations and explanations. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, July 22, 2014]
Tours: Production experience generally held on weekends (confirmation required on weekdays) Reservations required: phone reception weekdays 8:45am–5:15pm. Location: 547-0001 6-1-19 Kamikita, Hirano-ku, Osaka, Tel: 06-6792-7543 Fax: 06-6791-9313; Fee: ¥3,000 (tax included); Getting There: 10-minute walk from the north exit of Hirano Station on the JR Kansai Main Line (Yamatoji Line); Website: /morino-sample.jp
Image Sources: 1) 2) 5) Ray Kinnane 3) 7) 9) Wikipedia 4) 6) 8) Osaka Visitor's Guide
Text Sources: JNTO (Japan National Tourist Organization), Japan.org, Japan News, Japan Times, Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan Ministry of the Environment, UNESCO, Japan Guide website, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Updated in July 2020