Osaka is Japan's second largest city and is known as the hub of west-Japanese culture. The city is large and filled with awesome and unique things to eat and do, making it a great place to visit as a tourist! Here is Favy's list of 25 + great things to do in Osaka. Enjoy!
Dotonbori is located in near Namba Station in Osaka, and it is well known as an energetic arcade full of shops and eateries. It's really bright at night because of all the neon lights, which makes it feel like the city never sleeps. There are so many stores and sights in Dotonbori Street that you won't want to miss!
You can access Dotonbori from Namba station, which is only 5 minutes away! Check out our guide to Dotonbori below:
The entrance to Shinsaibashisuji, Shinsaibashi's popular shopping street
Shinsaibashi is an area in Osaka where you can easily spend the whole day shopping! The area is filled with stores, and there are quite a few places for sightseeing as well! The street where all the shops, cafes and restaurants are located is called Shinsaibashi Suji, which is a long, covered shopping arcade. Also in the area is America Mura, a place filled with thrift stores and hip cafes. Mitsu Hachimangu Shrine is also close by and is a really nice place to visit during spring when all cherry blossoms bloom. Check out our guide to the area for more information:
Shinsekai is where all of Osaka's vibrant culture emerges, with neon lights and 3D signboards everywhere. But did you know it was inspired by New York and Paris? The old-school neighborhood is such an interesting area to explore, and there's so much to see and do! From gazing at Osaka's iconic Tsutenkaku Tower, to eating some of the best kushikatsu in the city at Janjan Yokocho, the place is packed with fun things to do.
If you want to experience an Akihabara-like atmosphere in Osaka, or if you're an anime fan, then Denden town is definitely worth a visit! Much like Akihabara in Tokyo, this street is where many of Osaka's major electronics stores are located. In addition, you can find maid cafes, cosplay stores, and anime and manga stores, too! The area is only about 4 minutes from Midosuji Namba station or less than a minute walk from the south exit of Nankai Line Namba station.
Nakanoshima Rose Garden
Nakanoshima is known as Osaka's relaxing neighborhood. There's lots of cute cafes and restaurants, as well as cool modern architecture. If you are looking for a place to chill and escape the crowds for a bit, it's a great place to head to. Nakanoshima Park, located just a minute walk from Yodoyabashi station or Kitahama station, is a perfect place to visit on a beautiful day. From around May to October, the park turns into a gorgeous rose garden, with a skyline of skyscrapers as a backdrop. Kitahama Terrace, along the river, is also a cool spot to visit. it's filled with restaurants where you can enjoy a nice meal with a great view!
Osaka is known as a city of "Kuidaore", meaning "ruin oneself by extravagance in food". Osaka is historically a city of merchants, and this has greatly impacted its food culture. We sure are grateful for that, because Osaka has some darn good food! When you're in town, you've got to try takoyaki, okonomiyaki, and kushikatsu, at the least! Below are our summaries of the best restaurants in Osaka to try Osaka's local cuisines.
Gudetama is a character by Sanrio (the same Japanese company that has brought us Hello Kitty). The little egg is such an endearing character, mostly because he has no motivation to do anything. He does, however, have his own cafe in Osaka that you should definitely visit if you're a fan!
The cafe serves quite a variety of dishes that feature the character in various forms. There are savory dishes like roast beef don and creamy udon soup, as well as desserts and drinks to suit any appetite!
The best way to get to know a city is by experiencing the local food and meeting the local people. You can do both by taking a cooking class hosted by an Osaka native in their home! Airkitchen is a Japanese website that is basically the Airbnb of cooking classes, and they currently have more than 100 hosts in Osaka who offer various cooking classes (ramen, sushi, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, bento, tempura, you name it!) Check it out for a super unique, unforgettable local experience in Osaka!
9. Make Your Own Cup Noodle at Osaka's Cup Noodle Museum
Cup noodle is the ultimate instant meal! Just add boiling water, and you've got a steaming cup of delicious ramen noodles. But did you know that the now ubiquitous instant version of ramen was invented in Osaka? If you ever wondered what goes into making a cup of instant noodles, a visit to the Cup Noodle Museum in Osaka is your chance to learn everything about the history and production of the beloved snack, as well as design your own, custom cup of noodles that you can take home! The museum is a quick 6-minute walk from Ikeda Station.
Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo) is one of the most famous landmarks in Japan, and is Osaka's premier tourist attraction. It is a castle built in 1597 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and is modeled after the Himeji Castle built by Oda Nobunaga. This castle was attacked and destroyed several times, so the current castle is a reconstruction finished in 1995. You can go inside the building, and the view from the top floor is also fascinating.
It is most recommended to go in the morning, and eat lunch nearby, so that you have enough time to tour around the rest of the city in the afternoon. However, you could also go towards the closing hour, and eat dinner near the station. Here are some recommended restaurants nearby the castle that you can go for either lunch or dinner, as these restaurants are located close to the castle and to the train station!
11. See the March Grand Sumo Tournament (Only in March)
The EDION Arena in Osaka is the venue of one of the most important Sumo events in Japan, the March Grand Tournament. If you are just a little curious about sumo wrestling and would like to attend the March Tournament in Osaka, we recommend buying arena seat tickets which start at around ¥3,800.
You can also buy Japanese box seats that have room for four people for ¥38,000 and up. The box seats usually get sold out pretty quickly but the arena seats are usually available throughout the duration of the tournament. You can reserve your tickets online from the link below.
Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of Osaka's, and indeed Japan's, most renowned shrines. The shrine is the head shrine of approximately 2,300 Sumiyoshi shrines throughout the country. Sumiyoshi Shrine is surrounded by natural beauty, with many of the trees in the shrine being over 1,000 years old. The shrine grounds include many spiritual spots that connect you with nature and history, including the famous Sorihashi arched bridge (Taikobashi) shown in the picture above. In addition, the incredible main shrine hall is a designated national treasure.
Sumiyoshi Taisha is Osaka's finest shrine and is definitely worth a visit. Around New Years, the shrine is flooded with people, as more than 2 million people come to visit to pray for blessings for the new year.
Namba Yasaka Shrine has one of the most unique buildings of any shrine in the world! This Osaka shrine's iconic lion head-shaped building was built in the 1970s and isn't actually very old. However, the shrine itself has a long history, and its annual festival held in January(which incorporates an awesome tug-of-war competition) is designated as an intangible folk cultural property by the Japanese government.
The shrine is around an 8-minute walk from Nankai station.
Get a View of the City
14. Abeno Harukas
For the absolute best, completely unobstructed view of Osaka, a trip to Abeno Harukas is necessary. Standing at 300 meters tall, it is not only Osaka's but Japan's tallest building!
Although Tokyo has the Tokyo Skytree and Tokyo Tower, both of which are taller than Abeno Harukas, Osaka's newest skyscraper is technically Japan's tallest building, meaning that all of its structure is functional space. The very top of the building features a large multi-story observation area, with clear, unobstructed views of Osaka.
Tickets can be purchased for ¥1,350 for adults for one-time entry, or ¥1,950 for multiple entries if you want to see the view during the daytime and nighttime.
The Aqualiner Aquatic Bus offers inexpensive cruises along the Ogawa river in the Nakanoshima area. If you're looking for an easy and relaxing way to take in a lot of Osaka's scenery while sitting back and sipping on a drink, this is an awesome option. The boat stops at four different piers along the looping route, and you can choose to ride from point to point, or take the whole loop, which last for about 55 minutes and costs ¥1,700 for adults, or ¥850 for kids. There's a galley to purchase drinks and snacks onboard, as well as bathrooms. This is definitely one of the coolest ways to see Osaka!
The Umeda Sky Building is one of the most interesting pieces of architecture in Osaka. The skyscraper has a "Kuchu-Teien", which is an observatory that is located on top of the building. Here, you get a 360-degree view of Osaka. Architecturally, it is quite stunning and was included in the list of the "Top 20 Buildings Around the World" by the UK's 'The Times' magazine. It is definitely one of the must-visit landmarks in Osaka.
Tickets cost ¥1,500 for adults, and ¥700 for children. The building is located a quick walk away from either JR Osaka Station or Hankyu Umeda Station.
Located at Osaka's Expo City and standing 123 meters high, the Redhorse Osaka Wheel is a gigantic Ferris wheel that is the largest in Japan. To give some perspective, the world-famous London Eye is 135 meters tall, so the Redhorse Osaka Wheel isn't much smaller. It takes 18 minutes to ride around the wheel, and the floor of every gondola is made of glass, meaning you get an awesome (and probably terrifying for some) view of Osaka from high in the sky.
Tickets vary in price from just ¥1,000 for same-day basic tickets, to ¥12,000 for a ride in the decked-out VIP gondola that includes a bottle of champagne!
Located in the famous Shinsekai neighborhood, the Tsutenkaku Tower is one of Osaka's icons. There are 7 different floors in the building, each filled with amusing activities and shops. The top floors offer a great view of the surrounding area, and there's even an open-air garden on the very top! This is a fun spot to spend an hour or two while you're in the Shinsekai area!
The tower is open from 8:30 to 21:30 every day of the year, and the admission fee is ¥800 for adults or ¥400 for kids.
Fun fact: Did you know that the tower displays the following day's weather forecast by changing the color of the lights at the top of the tower?
HEP five is a famous shopping center where Osaka's youth go to have fun shopping and taking purikura pictures (pictures taken from special photo booths that makes the subjects of the pictures have enlarged eyes and longer legs). There are so many shops and restaurants in this shopping mall, so if shopping is on your Osaka to-do list, definitely stop by.
One of the famous features of HEP FIVE is a large, red Ferris wheel built into the side of the building! You can get a great view of Osaka city from there. It takes around 15 minutes for one round, and it goes as high as 106m! If you want to get on board, go to the 7th floor. Price: ¥500 per person (ages 5 and under free) Operation Hours: 11:00 am to 10:45 pm (last boarding time)
Namba Parks is another Osaka shopping mall that is located next to Nankai Namba Station. The complex is filled with lots of shops and restaurants and is a great place to spend several hours happily shopping. Perhaps the coolest part of this 8-floor shopping center is its unique architectural design which includes a sprawling, multi-level rooftop garden. This is an excellent place to sit and relax after spending too much time in all of the shops below.
Located near Osaka's Namba Station, 'Sennichimae Dogayasuji Shotengai' is a shopping street that is almost entirely filled with kitchen-related shops. You can find everything from pots and pans, to knives and cutlery, to beautiful artisan dishes. Having such a strong food culture, it only makes sense that Osaka should have such an awesome kitchenware shopping street. Whether you want to bring back some high-quality Japanese dishes for a souvenir, or are searching for an awesome Japanese knife for slicing fish at home, you can find it here!
22. Kuromon Ichiba
Kuromon Market is where it's at for seafood lovers in Osaka! The huge, covered shopping street stretches for more than half a kilometer and has about 150 shops and restaurants selling everything from fresh seafood (including fugu in the winter) to sushi, to fresh seafood skewers that you can munch on while you walk. Even if you don't buy anything, it's fun just to walk through the market and experience all the sights and smells. Seafood lovers definitely shouldn't miss a trip to Kuromon Market when visiting Osaka!
The market is located about 5 minutes away from Nippombashi Station (Exit 10). It's best to go in the morning or early afternoon because many of the shops will begin closing in the early evening.
The Expo’70 Commemorative Park is a huge park that was the grounds for the 1970 World's Fair, hosted in Osaka. The most iconic feature that remains is the fairly strange 'Tower of the Sun' shown above. However, there are other fun things to do and see at the grounds, including a lovely Japanese garden, sprawling natural and cultural gardens, and the Japan Folk Crafts Museum. Also nearby is the newly constructed Redhorse Osaka Wheel at 'Expo City' mentioned above. If you're looking to escape the concrete of the city and want to spend a little time in some beautiful gardens, this is a great place to visit!
Minoh Falls is a gorgeous natural waterfall located to the north of Osaka inside 'Minoh Park.' The National Park is free to enter and is about a 30-minute train ride from Central Osaka to Minoh Station, and from there, the falls can be accessed via a 3-kilometer walk. Once you arrive, you can relax on one of the benches in front of the 33 meter-high waterfall, and bask in the beauty of nature. This activity will definitely take several hours from your day, but is well worth it!
Universal Studios Japan is located in Osaka and is one of four theme parks owned by NBC Universal. USJ, as it's affectionately known, is dedicated to popular American movies and features fun rides & live entertainment. If you've been to another Universal Studios Theme Park elsewhere, then you'll already know what to expect.
The National Museum of Art in Osaka is a pretty cool art museum that features more than 6,000 works of art. Art fans will appreciate the museum's collection, of which 70 percent have a paper medium. The building itself is also a piece of art and is fun to look at, even if you don't go inside the museum.
The museum is open from 10:00 to 17:00 from Tuesday through Thursday, and 10:00 to 20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. The museum is closed on Mondays. Admission is ¥430 for adults, but free for seniors and under 18-year-olds!
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the best aquariums in Japan. The aquarium is pretty huge and has several different areas where you can watch, interact and play with fish and mammals! One of the cool features is the "new experience area" that allows guests to experience the environment that the species actually live in in the wild. In the Arctic Region, you can see ringed seals and feel the actual temperature that they live in! At the Maldives Islands area, there is a space where you can touch stingrays!