24 Best Places To Visit In Osaka, Japan - Updated 2024

places to visit in osaka
Marga
Marga 
Contributing Writer
Updated
| 11 min read

When heading to the Land of the Rising Sun, you will more or less always get recommendations to visit the most popular destinations in Tokyo, Kyoto, Nara, and Osaka. Out of these four, three are located close to each other in the Kansai region, and only one serves as its gateway: Osaka. Today, Japan’s third-largest city is becoming a booming destination for tourists who want to see a more laidback and fun side of Japan. Compared to the fast-paced atmosphere of Tokyo, Osaka is a more vibrant city in terms of culture, food, and people. It is slowly climbing to the travel bucket lists of many tourists, especially since Osaka is known to be more affordable in terms of flights, accommodations, and shopping. And it’s no wonder why, considering there are a plethora of things to see and do in this amazing city. If it’s your first time here, here’s a list of the best places to visit in Osaka, Japan to help you get around.

1. Osaka Museum of History

Osaka Museum of History and NHK Osaka Broadcasting Center Building
Source: Photo by user Tokumeigakarinoao... used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Just across the street from the Osaka Castle, you will find Osaka Museum of History. If you’re very much fascinated by Osaka’s unique history, head on over to the museum after visiting the castle. You’ve then got yourself a well-rounded visit where you can appreciate the city’s history. The museum is uniquely set as a chronological - and quite literal - journey through Osaka’s history. You have to take the elevator to the top and begin your way from ancient times down to the present day. On the lower floors, you will find a restaurant and a gift shop, and at the top you can take a good photo of Osaka Castle, which can be seen perfectly from your vantage point.

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2. Sumiyoshi Taisha (from USD 50.0)

Sumiyoshi Taisha
Source: 古都の U助

Famously known as the oldest Shinto shrine in Japan, Sumiyoshi Taisha is both an architectural wonder and a preserved sacred site. Its conception is even older than the birth of Buddhism and is dated around the 3rd century. It’s known to depict Sumiyoshi-zukuri, an ancient traditional Japanese architectural style that features straight roofs with forked tips. Though there are thousands of Sumiyoshi shrines all over Japan, Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of the most prominent ones and is believed to house the kami or Shinto gods who protect travelers, fishermen, and seafarers.

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Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine and Kuromon Market Visit

Duration: 3 hours

1 review

3. Osaka Tenmangū

Osaka Tenmangū

One of Japan’s biggest festivals that takes place in Osaka is called Tenjin Festival or Tenjin Matsuri. The festival has been celebrated for over 1,000 years and is held yearly during the 24th and 25th of July. The main festivities happen around Osaka Tenmangū, which is dedicated to the god of scholarship, Sugawara Michizane. During the festival, the deity is brought out and paraded in a colorful procession that takes place both on land and on the river. During the evening, expect a spectacular display of fireworks.

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4. Shitennoji Temple

“Saidaimon” (West Gate) of Shitennoji Temple
Source: Photo by user そらみみ used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Shitennoji Temple holds the title as Japan’s oldest Buddhist temple and is the first temple built by the state. Unfortunately, much of its beautiful facade was destroyed during the Second World War but it has been carefully restored to its original wonder in the present day. It’s a top tourist attraction today, with much of its interiors housing paintings, statues, exhibits, and other valuable items. There’s also a beautiful garden called the Gokuraku-jodo Garden that is just a few steps away from the temple.

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5. Hozenji Temple

Hozenji Temple
Source: 花月 文乃

Hozenji Temple is a hidden gem nestled between the areas of Dōtonbori and Namba. It’s a great refresher from the chaotic alleys of Dōtonbori and depicts a traditional Japanese structure. The key here is to look for the statue of Fudo Myo-o, and it is believed that if you splash it with water, it will bring you good luck. The statue is actually covered in moss probably due to the countless people who have splashed water over it wishing for good fortune. Afterward, you may take a stroll through the alley of Hozenji Yokocho to grab a bite.

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6. Tsutenkaku Tower

Tsutenkaku Tower
Source: MASALA Chai

Built back in 1912, Tsutenkaku Tower is Osaka’s own Eiffel Tower. The tower was originally modeled after the iconic one in Paris, but after the Second World War, it was disregarded for a while until eventually it was rebuilt again in 1956. Though it is in no way the tallest structure in Osaka today unlike when it was first erected, it still stands at 103 meters (338 feet) and is a symbol of the country’s progression, especially after the war. Today there’s an observatory deck at the top so you can have a good view of the city from a height of 91 meters (299 feet).

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7. Nakanoshima Park

Nakanoshima Park 20180617-4
Source: Photo by user そらみみ used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Nakanoshima Park is a waterfront park and is Osaka’s first public park. Located between the Dojimagawa and Tosaborigawa rivers, the park is a beautiful piece of land in the middle of the bustling city. It’s a great recreational place to unwind and take a break from the hustle and bustle for a while without having to leave the city. The main highlight of the park is the presence of nearly 4,000 rose bushes across the grounds, all of which add to the beauty of the setting.

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8. Kuromon Ichiba

Kuromon Ichiba

It’s not every day that you find a market that has been around for over 200 years. That’s Kuromon Ichiba for you. Today, it serves as a favorite commercial center for many locals and tourists alike. Stretching nearly 600 meters (1,969 feet), this is where locals go for their seafood needs and where tourists explore for the best street food and cheap finds like clothes or houseware. Here, you can buy seafood in large quantities or you can also get them in small quantities and have them grilled or cooked into your favorite dish.

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Small Group Kuromon Market Food Walking Tour in Osaka - Klook

Duration: 3hrsDuration

9. Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Tempozan Ferris Wheel
Source: Photo by user Kitty Schweizer used under CC BY-ND 2.0

Towering above the Osaka Bay Area, Tempozan Ferris Wheel is truly a sight to behold. At 112.5 meters (369 feet), this structure is one of the tallest of its kind in the world. From the very top, you can see incredible views of the surrounding mountains far out in the northeast and Kansai International Airport to the south. Some cabins are wheelchair-accessible while others have glass floors that make riding it even more thrilling. At night, the Ferris wheel is illuminated with vibrant lights depending on the weather forecast. If you’re exploring the Osaka Bay Area, don’t miss adding this to your itinerary alongside Osaka Aquarium, Tempozan Harbor Village, and LEGOLAND Discovery Center.

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10. Meiji no Mori Minō Quasi-National Park

Meiji no Mori Minō Quasi-National Park
Source: けいたろう

If you’re heading towards Tokai Natural Trail in the forests of Osaka Prefecture, you’ll definitely pass by Meiji no Mori Minō Quasi-National Park. It sits at the entrance of the trail that will lead you up to beautiful forestry and the majestic Mino Waterfall. There are also several Buddhist temples and sacred training grounds further up the mountain range. The atmosphere at the park will all depend on the season you visit - flowers in spring, icicles in winter, and gorgeous warm leaves in autumn, which in many people’s opinion, is the best time to go.

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11. Namba Yasaka Shrine

Best places to visit in Osaka, Japan
Source: 旅人間

One of the most notable shrines in the Namba district, Namba Yasaka Shrine has a long history behind it and has suffered a great deal of damage during the Second World War. The structure you will see today is a result of post-war efforts to rebuild the shrine. The highlight of the attraction would be the enormous building of a lion’s head at the center of it all. It is said that the lion swallows up all the evil spirits so that when you leave, you are cleansed and will only be attracted to good luck and fortune. The best time to go is during the spring when the cherry blossoms are abundant around the shrine.

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12. Nipponbashi

Nipponbashi Osaka Japan02-r
Source: Photo by user Oilstreet used under CC BY 2.5

If you’re looking for electronics and gadgets at an affordable price, look no further than Nipponbashi. Also known as DENDEN Town, it is one of the biggest areas in Japan that sells and specializes in electronics. You’ll find a variety of tech knick-knacks here from computers, cellphones, and audio equipment to mechanical toys. Nipponbashi has always been a commercial area but prior to electronics, they used to sell clothing and books.

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13. America-mura

America-mura
Source: 池口 英司

Another interesting commercial place near Dōtonbori is America-mura or Amerikamura, an array of shops selling goods from the United States. The place has been around since after the war and progressed during the 1970s. There are two kinds of shops here - first are the vintage shops filled with vintage clothing and even record labels and the second are the hip and trendy fashion stores. There are also several coffee shops and clubs that are usually open until late. This is where many of Osaka’s young people like to shop and hang out.

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14. Osaka Shochikuza

Osaka Shochikuza 2010
Source: Photo by user MASA used under CC BY-SA 3.0

For theater enthusiasts, you definitely won’t want to miss adding Osaka Shochikuza to your itinerary. Opened in 1923, the Neo-Renaissance-designed theater first operated as a movie theater up until 1994, with “Gone With The Wind” being the last film shown there. In 1997, it was reopened as a performing arts theater and now specializes in Kabuki drama, which is a traditional Japanese form of theater acting. The dialogue normally used in Kabuki plays are old versions of the Japanese language - but don’t worry about the language barrier because the acting, lights, and sounds are amazing enough to make you fully appreciate the show.

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15. Shinsaibashi

Shinsaibashi
Source: Photo by user BradBeattie used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Shinsaibashi is a long stretch of shops nestled under a roof near Dōtonbori. It is the most well-known shopping district in Osaka and many locals would recommend tourists to do their shopping here. There are a variety of stores that sell all sorts of souvenirs, clothes, handmade items, and food. If, by chance, you get caught in the rain while shopping, don’t worry because Shinsaibashi is a covered retail district. Rain or shine, you can shop till you drop.

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16. Pokémon Center Osaka

Pokemon Center
Source: Photo by user othree used under CC BY 2.0

Fans of the beloved game, rejoice! You’ll find heaven in the Pokémon Center in Osaka. Think of a Disney store, but instead, everything is related to Pokémon. You’ll find all sorts of memorabilia dedicated to the franchise, including clothes, toys, plushies, bags, stationery, video games, and of course, the iconic Pokémon cards. As soon as you step into the store, you’ll really want to catch ‘em all!

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17. Hoshida Park

Hoshida Park
Source: けいたろう

Journey a little up north, away from the bustling city, and you will eventually discover this hidden gem called Hoshida Park. Located near the border of Osaka and Nara, Hoshida Park is considered a national park and has several hiking trails for budding adventurers to enjoy. Among the highlights is the Hoshi no Buranko bridge, which means “star swing”. This is a suspension bridge that stands 50 meters (164 feet) from the ground. But the best part about Hoshida Park is the beautiful foilage of reds, oranges, and browns during the autumn season. Many tourists take the hike to this place just to witness these sights.

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18. Osaka Tennoji Zoo

Osaka Tennoji Zoo
Source: SHIZUKO

Take your kids to see some of their favorite wild animals at Osaka Tennoji Zoo. Located north of Osaka’s central area, Tennoji Zoo is Japan’s third zoo and is only 10 hectares (25 acres) big. It may seem a little bit compressed compared to other zoos, but it has done its best to keep the enclosures as close as it can get to the natural habitat of these animals. At Tennoji Zoo, you will see lions, monkeys, zebras, hippos, and even koalas. There are also informative exhibits about these animals that are great for your kids.

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19. LEGOLAND Discovery Center Osaka (from USD 15.65)

places to visit in osaka | legoland discovery center osaka

Take your kids to have a fun day at LEGOLAND Discovery Center, one of the attractions at Tempozan Harbor Village at the Osaka Bay Area. Tempozan Harbor Village is home to several attractions, so be sure to include LEGOLAND in your itinerary. This is an indoor playground facility with millions of Lego blocks and pieces for you and your kid to have fun with. The activities range from building your own Lego tower to a 4D cinema. Guests should take note that adults must have a child with them or vice versa when entering, otherwise, admission will not be permitted.

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Osaka: LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Admission Ticket

20. Universal Studios Japan (from USD 160.66)

places to visit in osaka | universal studios japan

If Disneyland has its home in Tokyo, another one of the biggest theme parks in the world resides in Osaka. Universal Studios Japan is the first to be built in Asia and has become a really popular attraction among tourists and locals alike. Made up of eight sections, this place is a haven for movie lovers and pop culture enthusiasts. Some of the main highlights include rides in the Hollywood, New York, and San Francisco sections, and attractions related to franchises like Jurassic Park, Jaws, Spiderman, Back to the Future, Terminator, and the most popular of them all, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Millions visit the theme park every year to experience a thrilling and fun time with their favorite characters, including Japanese characters like Hello Kitty.

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Osaka: Universal Studios Japan Entry Ticket & Transportation

Duration: 1.0 day

36 reviews

21. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (from USD 23.0)

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Another top attraction situated by Osaka’s Bay Area is Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan. It’s home to over 30,000 sea creatures that inhabit the Pacific Rim all the way from the Arctic to the Great Barrier Reef. In fact, the aquarium is designed in a way that it depicts different regions in the Pacific Rim through its 15 tanks. The proper way to experience this attraction is by starting at the top, on the 8th floor, and then making your way down to the central tank, the aquarium’s main attraction. This is where you can witness the whale shark, the largest fish on the planet, up close. There are also other interesting creatures to meet and greet along the way such as seals, penguins, and salamanders.

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Osaka: Aquarium Kaiyukan Admission Ticket

Duration: 1 day

5 reviews

22. Dōtonbori (from USD 68.38)

Dōtonbori
Source: 島塚 渓

Probably the best way to describe Dōtonbori to someone who hasn’t been there yet is that you can liken the ambiance to that of Times Square in New York City. The atmosphere is lively, the buildings and streets are vibrant, and it seems like the place never sleeps. It’s the top recommended place to go to if you want to experience the best of Osaka’s nightlife, food, and entertainment. The center of this district is where you can find the iconic Glico man in bright neon lights. Dōtonbori is a highly touristy area, so expect the place to be crowded, especially in the evening.

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Osaka: Dotonbori Street & Kuromon Market Walking Food Tour

Duration: 3 hour

3 reviews

23. Umeda Sky Building (from USD 14.0)

Umeda Sky Building
Source: 松本 沙織

Many progressive cities in the world has its own towering structure that serves as a symbol of their advancement and as a spot for tourists to take in a 360-degree view of the city below. Osaka definitely has its own entry to that list in the form of the Umeda Sky Building. Located in the Kita district and standing at 173 meters (568 feet) tall, this structure is composed of two towers connected by the Floating Garden Observatory, which is where you can see a variety of flowers and plants while suspended in the air. This isn’t recommended if you’re highly acrophobic, but if you’re of the daring sort, go ahead and ascend the remarkable escalator up to the floating garden.

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Umeda Sky Building Kuchu Teien Observatory Admission Ticket

Duration: 1 day

24. Osaka Castle & Osaka Castle Park (from USD 95.0)

Osaka Castle & Osaka Castle Park

Dating as far back as the 16th century, Osaka Castle has had its share of history. It has seen the rise and fall of warriors, survived the Second World War, and was even struck by lightning only to be restored later on. Today, it stands as a beautiful monument and one of Osaka’s most iconic symbols. It is now home to a museum dedicated to the history of the castle and the legacy of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the ruler and pioneer behind the castle. Osaka Castle Park in the castle grounds is a great place to hang out, especially during the cherry blossom season in April.

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Osaka Afternoon Walking Tour : Osaka Castle and Osaka River Cruise

Duration: 3 hours 45 minutes

10 reviews

A fusion of modern and tradition awaits in Osaka

Osaka is unique when it comes to what it can offer culturally. There’s a part of it that keeps in touch with its roots and heritage and then the next thing you know, you’re back in the modern world. Many of the places in Osaka have their own trademark, but one thing’s for sure - a visit to this amazing destination will be an experience you won’t soon forget.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Marga is a self-employed aspiring writer and budding artist from the Philippines. On days she's not writing, she paints and creates art which she later sells at craft bazaars. Marga also has...Read more

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