Being the country of quirks and curiosities that it is, Japan has its own unique spin on Valentine’s Day. Down here in Kansai, plenty of places are getting in on the act too. Whilst Osaka may not quite have the romantic pull of Venice or Rome, there’s a surprising amount of interesting venues and activities to keep couples entertained on the most romantic day of the year.
1) Grand Front Osaka
This massive shopping, entertainment and office complex has several different activities and diversions to offer couples in search of a good date venue. Whilst the ladies can spend time shopping at the designer fashion stores, the hi-tech gadget shops will also provide a diversion for the guys, and of course the tech-minded girls too.
However, there’s more to Valentine’s Day than just shopping, so after you’ve finished browsing (assuming you haven’t blown all your money on that all-important gift for your loved one) head up to the 7th and 8th floors to the food court. Whether it’s the delicious paella of La Bodega or perhaps the familiar sizzle of the steakhouse, there’s something to tempt the tastebuds of both you and your better half.
After dinner, you can visit the rooftop gardens of the North Tower and take in a number of familiar sites of the Osaka skyline, such as the nearby Umeda Sky Building. Swing round the back of the gardens and wrap up the evening in style with a cocktail and some good conversation at the rooftop cocktail bar. At 1,200 yen per drink, it isn’t cheap, but hey, the love of your life is more than worth it, right?
2) Osaka Kaiyukan
When I say love and romance, fish probably isn’t the first thing that enters your mind. However Osaka’s world famous aquarium, the Kaiyukan, has built quite a reputation as a popular dating spot since its opening back in the 1990s. The area of Tempozan in Osaka’s port district, where the Kaiyukan is situated, has a number of activities and venues to ramp up the romance.
Why not combine your entry to the Kaiyukan with a boat cruise around the harbor aboard the famous Santa Maria cruise ship? After, the nearby Tempozan Ferris Wheel, still one of the largest in Japan, is especially romantic around sunset. The adjacent Tempozan Market Place provides plenty of dinner options, with everything from okonomiyaki pancakes to kebabs on offer. Finally, nothing rounds off a romantic evening together like a stroll along the seafront.
3) Abeno Harukas
Japan’s tallest commercial building (Tokyo Sky Tree is classed as a tower rather than a building), Abeno Harukas has all manner of shopping, eating and entertainment options dotted across its dozens of floors. Being a new building in an up-and-coming area, the food here can be quite expensive but as anyone who has lived in Japan for any length of time will tell you, there are two days of the year when it is expected that no expense will be spared when treating your loved one: namely Christmas Eve and Valentine’s Day.
Of course the highlight of any visit to Abeno Harukas isn’t the food or the shopping, it’s the incredible 360-degree panoramic views offered from the 300-meter-high observation platform on the top floor. The Kintetsu Department Store in the building’s lower levels is the perfect place to pick up your Valentine’s Day chocolates too. In total there are 120 different varieties and styles of chocolate on offer in the store.
Overall, whilst it might not feature at the top of any lovers list of dream romantic spots, Osaka is a city where couples can actually have quite a lot of fun, and at times plenty of romance too. If you don’t have a date, there’s always the variety of bars and clubs in Namba and Shinsaibashi to drown your sorrows. Who knows, you may just find another lonely soul there who will welcome some company.
Whatever you are doing, wherever you are going and whoever you are going with, here’s hoping you have a fun and memorable Valentine’s Day 2017!