Osaka is a cosmopolitan city near the ancient capital, Kyoto, best known for its dynamic food and drinking culture, and famously outgoing people. Osaka is Japan’s second city, and on the surface might not seem like an off-the-beaten-path destination. Below are 10 things that will make even those who have already been there to revisit.
Osaka Castle is an important historical monument that represents the great history of Azuchi-Momoyama period during the sixteenth century. It was built in 1583 by the order of Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of the most famous unifying warlords of Japanese history. The castle is located within the Osaka Castle Park, and it’s especially popular to visit during cherry blossom season. Source
Welcome to Dotonbori, Osaka’s most famous neighborhood. Its famous shop displays and flashy neon lights at night attract millions of visitors. It’s also the place to tonjoy delicious food in numerous restaurants. Shopping, food, entertainment. you will never be bored of this vibrant and energetic neighborhood!. Source
Tenjinbashisuji Shotengai is famous for being the longest shotengai (shopping street) in Japan. Its total length is 2.6km. It is home to approximately 600 shops, including those offering Osaka dishes like takoyaki(octopus balls) and okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes), clothing stores with super cheap and flashy clothes unique to Osaka, and shops selling various local items. Nearby, you can find the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, which recreates the landscape of Osaka from the early 1830’s. You will also find Osaka Temmangu Shrine, which is famous for hosting the deity for academics. Just by visiting this shotengai, you’re sure to fully enjoy the charms of Osaka. Source
Expo City and Banpaku Memorial Park
About 30 minutes from central Osaka by trains, the attractions clustered in Expo City and Banpaku Memorial Park are some of the best in the city. There’s great stuff for both adults and children here, including a brilliant ethnological museum, a hands-on aquarium, a sprawling shopping center, and some excellent restaurants. There’s enough here to keep a family occupied for a full day. Visit our Northern Osaka page for details. Source
Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street
Sennichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Street is lined with specialty stores of all kinds of cooking utensils and kitchen items. Osaka is called the “Kitchen of the world” where lots of chefs work with highly trained minds and skills. Stores stocking tools accommodating such professionals congregate in Doguyasuji. It started as an approach from Sennichimae of Hozenji temple to Odaishi worship at Shitennoji temple and Imaebisu Shrine lined with antique and sundries stores. In the early 20th century, they developed as wholesale stores and specialty stores of manufacturing. The arcade was built in 1970 to become the current 150m-long shopping street. On Oct 9, “Doguyasuji Festival” is held when lots of tools are on sale. Recently it has become very popular among students on field trips with the takoyaki demonstration sale and food sample-making class. Source
Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan (USJ) was the first theme park under the Universal Studios brand to be built in Asia. Opened in March 2001 in the Osaka Bay Area, the theme park occupies an area of 39 hectares and is the most visited amusement park in Japan after Tokyo Disney Resort. Universal Studios Japan currently has eight sections: Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Amity Village, Universal Wonderland and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Visitors are able to enjoy many amusement rides, ranging from child-friendly carousels to thrilling roller coasters and simulators based on popular movies such as Spiderman, Back to the Future, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park. Source
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan (海遊館, Kaiyūkan) is located in the Tempozan Harbor Village of Osaka’s bay area and is one of Japan’s most spectacular aquariums. It introduces various forms of life inhabiting the Pacific Rim in a well organized and impressive way. Marine life is displayed in 15 tanks, each representing a specific region of the Pacific Rim. The central tank, representing the Pacific Ocean, is nine meters deep and home to a whale shark, the aquarium’s main attraction. Source
Osaka’s best-known temple, Shitennō-ji, can trace its roots back to AD 59 and was Japan’s first Buddhist temple. Highlights of a tour include the site’s five-story pagoda along with a number of other exquisitely decorated buildings including the Golden Pavilion (Kondō) with its fine statues and paintings, the Lecture Hall (Kōdō), and a lovely covered corridor linking three of the site’s gates. Source
An onsen theme park with full resort facilities, SpaWorld features natural hot springs where you will feel like you are traveling on a world tour, as well as a huge pool and other amusement spots located throughout the complex.
Short for Amerikamura or “American Village,” Amemura is a hub for young hipsters looking to shop, drink, or just hang out. Amemura is home to trendy and unusual fashion boutiques and thrift stores, some of the best bars and restaurants in the city, a replica of the Statue of Liberty, and the infamous Triangle Park, a regular haunt for skateboarders and home to some of the best people-watching in town. This quirky and lively neighborhood is a perfect example of the “East meets West” aesthetic. Source
Just So You Know…
- Osaka was once the capital of Japan. Japan’s first full-scale palace, Naniwa-no-Miya Palace, was built in 650. The site of the palace is maintained as a park, located south of the current Osaka Castle.
- People from Osaka are said to be the most outgoing in Japan.
Get Some Culture:
- Spy cosplayers – Osaka’s version of Harajuku is Ota Road in Nipponbashi – the home of popular culture in the city.
- Escape to Kyoto – Only 30 minutes away from Osaka Station, and an easy day trip.
- Check out the National Museum of Art.
- Attend a sumo tournament in Osaka.