Osaka is located in the Kansai region of Japan, around the central area of Japan’s main island. It is one of the biggest cities in Japan along with others such as Tokyo and Nagoya. Found about 2 hours 20 minutes from Tokyo via bullet train. The city area in Osaka is well connected via the subway and access from overseas is convenient as the Osaka-Itami International Airport is just an hour’s train ride from the main city. It is a city known for the shopping districts, delicious local food, and their unique Japanese accent called the Osaka-ben. Here are 14 places you cannot miss when in Osaka!
1. Dotonbori - the fun-filled shopping district
Search “Osaka” on the internet and the image of this huge Glico board in Dotonbori will definitely appear; it is no exaggeration to say that a trip to Osaka is nothing without visiting Dotonbori. Dotonbori is the grandest downtown in Osaka and is located 7 minutes from Namba station by foot. The streets there are lined with numerous shops ranging from eateries, fashion stalls, anime and manga shops, books stores and more. Apart from exploring the shops, you can also enjoy the various signboards that shops put up, such as gigantic Sushi statues from the Sushi store Genrokuzusi, or moving crabs from the crab restaurant Kani Douraku.
Address: Dotonbori, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Access info: 7-minute walk from Osaka Namba station
2. Kuromon Ichiba Market - Osaka’s Kitchen
Kuromon Ichiba Market is just 10 minutes from Osaka station via subway, and is no doubt the best place for you to experience Osaka-style grocery shopping. Kuromon Ichiba has over 200 years of history and is filled with fresh seafood from crabs, tuna and sea urchins. Among the famous dishes there is the pufferfish cuisine – not something that you can taste everywhere.
Kuromon Ichiba Market
Address: 2-4-1 Nippombashi, Chuo-ku, Osaka
Access info: 1-minute walk from Nippombashi station
3. Trying Takoyaki – the dish that represents Osaka
If you ask any Japanese for the first dish that pops into their mind when thinking of Osaka, a majority of them will answer Takoyaki – the octopus ball. Takoyaki is a Japanese snack with octopus fillings, with sour-sweet Takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise poured over it, topped with other ingredients such as green onion. There are lots of shops in Osaka selling Takoyaki and one of them is a shop called Umaiya that was even included in Michelin Guide Kyoto, Osaka 2016.
Address: Naniwacho, Kitaku, Osaka 530-0022, Osaka Prefecture
Access info: 4-minute walk from Temma Station, which is about 6 minutes from Osaka station via the Osaka Loop Line
Opening hours: 11 am - 6:30 pm (Closed when sold out)
Fixed holiday: Tuesday
Contact: +81 6-6373-2929
4. Umeda Sky Building, Osaka’s landmark building
Umeda Sky Building has a history of over 20 years and is just 10 minutes from Osaka station by foot. This building is one of the most famous architecture in Osaka and the 173 metres (568 feet) tall building has 2 separate buildings connected by a Floating Observatory at the top. The Floating Garden Observatory that can be accessed gives you an amazing panoramic view of Osaka city. The night view of the city is fantastic too!
Floating Garden Observatory (Umeda Sky Building)
Address: 1-1-88 Oyodo-naka,Kita-ku, Osaka - city
Access info: 10-minute walk from Osaka station
Opening hours: 10 am - 10:30 pm (last admission 10 pm)
Fixed holiday: nil
Contact: +81 6-6440-3899
Entrance fee: 800 JPY (7.7 USD)
5. Tenjinbashisuji District - the Longest Business District in Japan
The 2.6 kilometres (1.6 miles) Tenjinbashisuji District is the longest commercial district in Japan with over 600 food stalls and arcades. The streets are lined with eye-catching shops and designs, such as the Torii gates (Japanese gate found in shrines that represent a boundary between God and humans) found hanging on the ceiling. It will take you about 30 to 40 minutes just to walk the entire street, so make sure you spare enough time to fully explore the area!
Address: Tenjimbashi, Kita-ku, Osaka
Access info: 5-minute walk from Temma Station, which is about 6 minutes from Osaka station via the Osaka Loop Line
6. Osaka Tenmangu Shrine
If you are visiting Tenjinbashisuji District, the Osaka Tenmangu Shrine is just the right place for you to drop-by too. This historical shrine was built during mid-Heian era (year 794 to about year 1185) and has played an important role in Osaka for a long period of time. The main hall of Osaka Tenmangu Shrine was destroyed many times due to war and fire, but was reconstructed every time. If you happen to visit Osaka during 24 and 25 July, you can also witness the Tenjin Festival - one of Japan’s top three festivals - which will be accompanied by glorious fireworks.
Osaka Tenmangu Shrine
Address: 530-0041 2-1-8 Tenjimbashi,Kita-ku, Osaka-city
Access info: 5-minute walk from Minamimorimachi Station
Opening hours: 9 am - 5 pm
Fixed holiday: nil
Contact: +81 6-6353-0025
Entrance fee: free entry
7. Learn Osaka’s history at Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle has a history of over 500 years and its main tower was completed in 1585. The castle has witnessed numerous sieges and wars, and is today one of the historical sites that represent Osaka. Various artefacts are placed on display in the Osaka Castle Museum where you can learn about the history behind one of Japan’s greatest cities. Apart from its historical value, Osaka Castle is also a great place to enjoy Japan’s scenery, especially during spring when the Sakura flowers will be in full bloom.
Address: 540-0002 1-1, Osakajo, Chuo-ku, Osaka City
Access info: 5-minute drive from Osakajokouen station
Opening hours: 9 am - 5 pm (last admission 4:30 pm)
Fixed holiday: December 28th to January 1st
Contact: +81 6-6941-3044
Entrance fee: 600 JPY (5.7 USD)
8. Universal Studios Japan
Not much description is needed for this renowned destination; Universal Studios Japan is one of the greatest amusement parks in the world with entertainment that people of all ages will enjoy. Immerse yourself in the world of Harry Potter at “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” section, or enter the world of dinosaurs at the “Jurassic Park the Flying Dinosaur” ride!
Universal Studios Japan
Address: 2-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku, Osaka City
Access info: Direct access from Universal City Station
Contact: +81 570-200-606
Entrance fee: please refer to the official website
9. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan…it’s a whale shark!
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is a huge aquarium with a total of 8 storeys, with different marine creatures displayed according to their region including the Gulf of Panama, Great Barrier Reef and local places like the Seto Inland Sea. The most famous display there is the Pacific Ocean display that has the huge Whale Sharks swimming slowly and peacefully. It is a fantastic place for families and marine lovers to explore!
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Address: 1-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato-ku, Osaka - city
Access info: 5-minute walk from Osakako Station
Entrance fee: 2300 JPY (22 USD)
10. Make your own Instant Noodle at the Instant Ramen Museum
Most of you have probably been hooked to Instant noodles at some point in time. The Instant Noodle was invented by Momofuku Ando who founded the Nissin Food Products, and since then, Instant Noodles have been a crucial part of many people’s daily life. At the Instant Ramen Museum, various Instant Noodles from different times in history are put on display. Not only that, you can get to make your own Instant Ramen at the “My CUPNOODLES Factory”. Reservation is needed for the Chicken Ramen Factory so please refer to their official website.
Instant Ramen Museum
Address: 8-25 Masumi-cho, Ikeda-shi, Osaka
Access info: 5-minute walk from Osakako Station
Opening hours: 9:30 am - 4 pm (last admission at 3:30 pm)
Fixed holiday: Tuesday and year-end through New Year Holidays
Contact: +81 72-751-3484
Entrance fee: free entry (fees are charged at some facilities)
11. Janjan Yokocho - the street filled with amusement
The Shinsekai (meaning new world) area in Osaka is one of the best places where tourists and locals can spend a fantastic time. Located there is the Janjan Yokocho where the streets are lined with various amusements such as retro cafés, sweets shop and arcades. Apart from savouring old-school Japanese sweets, you can also visit the arcades to compete with your friends at the olden Japanese arcade games such as “smartball”. The alley is 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) in width and 180 meters (590 feet) in length. You will come across your favourite retro shop or cafe for sure!
Jan Jan Yokocho (Jan Jan alley)
Address: East 3 chome, Ebisu, Naniwa, Osaka-city
Access info: 5-minute walk from Nankai - Nanba Station
12. Addictive cheese tart from Pablo!
Pablo is a café which specialises in cheese tarts and there are a total of 8 branches around Japan including Tokyo, Himeji and Osaka. The cheese tart served in Pablo has a soft tart and is filled with sweet cheese fillings. You can pour berry sauce over it according to your preference, and the ice cream served together accentuates the deliciousness of the cheese tart.
2 different types of cheese tarts are available as souvenirs too - rare and medium. The rare cheese tarts melts once placed in your mouth while the medium is well baked and have a soft, spongy texture.
There are 8 outlets in the Osaka downtown area. Go find the one nearest from you to check it out!
13. Go Onsen Crazy in Spa World Osaka
The epitome of quirky Japan, spend hours at this hot spring theme park! Similar to a Korean Jimjilbang, Spaworld houses a collection of themed hot springs, jacuzzis, a pool, gym, and spa. Explore the Asian Zone or the European Zone, with elaborate decorations that will transport you to different countries. Do note that most areas in Spaworld are nude-only save mixed gender areas), but rest assured your shyness will melt away in this relaxation wonderland. Open 24/7, 3 hours’ admission costs 2,400 yen (around 21.50 USD) on a weekday to pamper yourself in every way possible. Extend your stay by buying a day ticket for 2,700 yen (around 24.20 USD) or reserving a room in the adjoining Spa World Hotel.
14. Traditional Kabuki Performance at Osaka Shochikuza Kabuki Theater
Recognised by UNESCO as part of an ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’, Kabuki is a classical Japanese dance-drama played by men. Audiences rave about the intricate kimonos and traditional architecture of the theatre itself. Whilst fully performed in Japanese, there are short brochures to give non-Japanese speakers a gist of the storyline, or you could find summaries online. The unique movements and postures which are frequently depicted in traditional Japanese artwork will keep audiences captivated for roughly 1,500 yen (13.45 USD) to 3,000 yen (26.90 USD).
A city filled with fun
Despite the numerous high-rise buildings that surround Osaka city, it is a city with great tourist attractions and will certainly keep you excited everywhere you go. Osaka is also located close to other popular destinations such as Kyoto, so do check out this city when visiting Japan!
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