Osaka Runner’s Guide
The Osaka Marathon is less than a month away. As runners from around the world begin looking forward to race day, we’ve prepared this brief Osaka Runner’s Guide with tips on where to run, eat, and purchase any last-minute items or forgotten running goods.
Where to Run
1. Osaka Castle Park: One of the most popular places in Osaka to run. The park’s perimeter path is 3.5 km, and the inner path is 3 km. Taking advantage of the many paths that crisscross the park allows for added distance and variety.
2. Yodo River Banks: If you prefer something less crowded with skyline views, running a section of the nearly 50km path along the Yodo River may be your best choice. Most of the course is paved and popular among cyclists and locals out for a stroll. Between the skyline views and people watching, the kilometers will fly by.
3. Nakanoshima Park: One of the most scenic areas in Osaka, the lush greenery and contrasting architectural styles will give you a glimpse of the ways historic and modern ideals shape Osaka.
4. Minoo Park Falls Trail: The Takimichi walking trail (a paved path) is about 5 km out and back from Minoo station, following a stream and passing by many shops and temples, including Ryuanji Temple, an important site for Shugendo (ascetic mountain practices) before reaching the 33-meter Mino Water Falls, the park’s main natural attraction. Depending on the time of day, the path may become crowded making it necessary to walk from time to time. Yet, the waterfall at the end is beautiful, and the area around Minoo can be a nice break from the hustle and bustle of central Osaka.
Where to Eat
Osaka has long been known for its food. An old Japanese proverb, translated loosely explains, “People in Kyoto will ruin themselves for fine clothing, while people in Osaka go to ruin on food and drink (Kyoto no kidaore, Osaka no kuidaore 京都の着倒れ、大阪の食い倒れ).” Throughout the city’s long history, the Osaka region has been blessed with food from both land and sea. As such, any guide of where to eat in Osaka inevitably is incomplete, leaving out several choices, and may even lead to animated discussions. Nonetheless, here are a few recommendations runners visiting Osaka may want to try.
Osaka is famous for flour-based foods. Perhaps at the top of the list is Osaka-style Okonomiyaki, sometimes described as a Japanese Pancake or Pizza or a cross between the two. Okonomiyaki usually contains some combination of cabbage, shrimp, squid, pork belly, mountain yam paste, egg, and flour. Several okonomiyaki restaurants, including Mizuno, have been featured in Michelin guides to Osaka. Some recommendations of where to try Osaka-style okonomiyaki include:
1. Mizuno: Located just off the Dotombori Arcade is Mizuno. You’ll probably spot the line out the door before spotting the restaurant. Don’t let the line stop you from eating here; orders are taken in advance, and people tend to eat quickly and leave. Mizuno is approaching their 70th year in business, they are okonomiyaki experts. In addition, Mizuno stands out as one of the only okonomiyaki restaurants to offer a vegetarian version of the dish (many places will hold the meat; however, the batter often contains fish stock). A gluten-free version of okonomiyaki is also on the menu here.
2. Fukutaro: A favorite among locals and visitors, Fukutaro maintains has 3 locations throughout Osaka. The shop is rated highly on Japanese review sites. Fukutaro’s creative takes on this classic Osaka dish are sure to delight.
3. Kyo-Chabana: Located in Shin Osaka Station, Kyo-Chabana uses Kyoto heirloom vegetables to make a healthier version of Osaka classics and other Japanese pub fare. Although the website is only in Japanese, the restaurant does have an English menu.
Osaka’s culinary adventures extend far beyond okonomiyaki. A couple of places that may appeal to visiting runners include:
4. Genmai Cafe: Genmai Cafe is a vegan cafe with a menu that changes daily. Visitors looking to try Japanese food but not wanting to risk fish stock used as a flavoring will appreciate the offerings at Genmai Cafe.
5. YUNiCO: Yunico is a Michelin-starred “Japanese-Italian” restaurant utilizing local, seasonal ingredients and Italian cooking techniques to create one-of-a-kind dishes that delight all five senses. Reservations are necessary, and there is a penalty of 50% of the course menu penalty for canceling the day before and 100% on the day of the reservation. Lunch is available on Fridays and Saturdays.
6. Glich Coffee: Specializing in light roast coffees Glitch opened its fast shop in Tokyo in 2015 and became a must-visit for coffee lovers. Open from 8:00 each morning, this coffee stand features a spacious interior filled with natural light. Glitch Coffee is a great way to ease into the day with a flavorful cup of coffee or to relax after a morning shakeout.
III. Running Specialty Stores
Stride Lab Osaka: If you need more gels, realize you’ve forgotten something, or the airlines lost your baggage, Stride Lab Osaka has what you need. Stride Lab is conveniently located 700 meters from Kitahama Station (北浜駅) on the Keihan Line and Osaka Metro Sakaisuji Lines.
Stride Lab will also have a booth at the Osaka Marathon Expo, where we will feature a selection of products that promote LifeRunning for all.