Osaka was my first stop in Japan, a country that I had been so eager to explore in Asia. Known as the ‘Kitchen of Japan’ or ‘Nation’s kitchen,’ Osaka is one of the most happening cities of Japan. It’s not as huge as metropolis Tokyo or culturally rich Kyoto, but Osaka beckons travelers for many reasons. One of them is the sheer number of Osaka attractions. I totally loved the places to visit in Osaka, which was a perfect way to get introduced to Japan – its people, food, and culture. In this post, I am bringing to you all the things to do in Osaka – fun things, popular Osaka highlights, offbeat things and what not! Stop wondering about what to do in Osaka. Just sit back and read your Osaka travel guide.
Top Things To Do in Osaka Japan
First, let me tell you about the best things to do in Osaka, which are a must-visit for anyone visiting this awesome city.
1. Get a glimpse of history at Osaka Castle
One of the beautiful remanents of the Tokugawa clan, the last of the shogunates of feudal-era Japan, Osaka castle was built to unify Japan by warlord Toyotomi Hideyoshi in the 16th century. The best part about visiting Osaka castle is that you can get a splendid view of Osaka from the observatory on the 8th floor. You need to pay to visit this or the inside of the castle, but the outside area and the gardens are free to explore.
The park area around the castle is a famous hangout place for the tourists and the locals. If you visit during the spring and summer, you can view the lovely pink and white blossoms as I did.
Osaka Castle timings: 9 AM to 5 PM
Osaka Castle entry fees:
2. What to do in Osaka – Soak in the neon lights at Dotonburi
Dotonburi is one of the most popular places for Osaka nightlife. Explore this area is probably among the top things to do in Osaka at night. This is the place where the city is at its vibrant best, with neon lights lighting every street that you pass. Soak in the energy as you check out the glittery shops. Lined with many awesome bars and restaurants, the streets come alive at night and during the weekends.
Dotonburi has been the entertainment district in Osaka since the 16th century, and it has got only better with time. Ditch the map and wander along the walkways and the little bridges to take in the frenzy. Don’t miss the Tonbori walk lane.
Plus, this is one of the best free things to do in Osaka, unless you go on a shopping spree or something!
3. And locate the Glico Man for a Selfie in Dotonburi
While you are in Dotonburi enjoying the frantic crowds, head to the famous landmark Ebisu bridge from where you can see Osaka’s icon man Glico. It’s very easy to find him despite the other massive neon signs. You’ll find a huge neon poster of him running.
To give you a brief, Glico man is the logo of the famous Japanese snack maker company Glico, who has been the icon since 1935. Take the mandatory selfie covering this famous man of Osaka from the Ebisu bridge for the perfect shots. The other noticeable sign is that of a mammoth moving crab hanging from a tall building lit up and shiny.
4. Find out why Osaka is Japan’s Kitchen
Whether you are a foodie or not, trying out all the delicacies that Osaka has to offer should be one of the top things to do in Osaka. If not, how else would you experience the nation’s kitchen?
The most popular place for Osaka street food is the Dotonbori area. Yes, get past all the flashy neon boards to spot small crowded shops selling some of the best Japan food.
Your next stop in your Osaka food tour should be Kuromon Ichiba, a fresh market serving the best seafood right away as you like. It is where Osaka’s chefs go for ingredients shopping. This is where the locals queue up to savour the best seafood. Exploring Kuromon Ichiba is a double experience. Passing through more than 180 shops, you get to see closely how a local market experience looks like as well as treat your tastebuds with authentic Japanese street food serving seafood.
Next, check out Shinsekai’s little shops for some of the best street food in Osaka. Try Kushi Katsu, Takoyaki and other delicious Japanese street food.
5. Pay a visit to the cutest temple of Osaka – Hozenji Shrine
Located close to the bustling and bright Dotonburi is one of the simplest yet beautiful shrines in Osaka, Hozenji temple. The temple itself is very small but exudes so much serenity and positivity that you’ll love your time. Hozenji temple as a stone Buddha covered with moss, and you’ll see the locals sprinkling water to the statue while praying.
Check out this surprisingly serene Hozenji with the lanterns lit at night before you set out for a crazy night in Dortonbori neon jungle.
Hozenji temple timings:
Hozenji temple entry fees: Free
6. Find your way to Osaka’s secret alley – Hozenji Yokocho
Among all the fun things to do in Osaka, this is my favorite. If you want to escape to another quiet lane in Dotonburi, go to Yokocho street. A series of extremely narrow cobbled stone streets flanked by cute Japanese restaurants and bars, this is a piece of ancient Osaka nightlife, which was all quiet before the neon-madness took over the city.
Don’t miss Yokocho street, a perpendicular alley which you can easily miss despite following your Google map. This is the best of all – You’ll find Japanese wall art, lanterns and murals depicting how Osaka looked not very long ago. I loved this street so much that I went back and forth twice, just absorbing all the cuteness.
7. Marvel the Japanese modern architecture at Umeda Sky Building
Head to Umeda, Osaka’s busiest business district to go to Umeda Sky building. One of the marvels of future architecture, this building has a floating observatory on the 40th floor, floating as it is between two 40-storeyed towering buildings connected by bridges and elevators in the air.
You can visit at any time of the day but go there in the evening to catch a glimpse of night view of Osaka. Called as the ‘Floating Garden,’ you can also dine in one of the restaurants or grab a drink to enjoy the view from the top.
Also, check out the underground market in the basement which is uniquely themed.
Umeda Sky tower timings:
Umeda building entry fees:
8. Stroll in the Nakanoshima Park
There is Nakanoshima Park close to Osaka Castle which is worth visiting for sure. The first public park opened in Japan, Nakanoshima boasts of many species of roses and other colourful flowers.
It is the hangout spot for locals to party in the beer garden or have a picnic during holidays and weekends. There are plenty of restaurants and cafes around the park, and taking a stroll on a cool evening doing some people watching is highly recommended.
9. Visit Japan’s first Buddhist temple – Shitennoji
Next on your Osaka tour is a temple with a history of more than 1400 years Check out Shitennoji, the first Buddhist temple in Japan built in AD 593. It is definitely one of the awesome things to do in Osaka.
Admire the shrine as you take a walk along a lovely small pond. And yes, this one of the free Osaka top attractions. Also check the flea market while you are here, where you can shop for Japan souvenirs including Kimonos or antiques.
Shitennoji temple timings: 8 AM to 4 PM. The outside premises is open until 6 or 7 PM.
Shitennoji temple entry fees: Free
10. Go shopping at Japan’s longest Shopping Arcade Tenjinbashisuji
Fancy shopping at the longest shopping arcade? Then head to Tenjinbashisuji, a covered arcade running for more than 1.5 miles. Consisting of 4 prominent shopping streets, you can shop here for basically books, clothes, souvenirs, music, sweets or anything!
There are many restaurants and cafes for you to dine when you get tired of walking among these hundreds of shops. It’s a great place to see the lives of Osakans closely making it one of the top Osaka points of interest.
11. Witness the huge and busy Osaka Station
Likely your gateway to the city, Osaka station is one of the top things to see in Osaka. It is the next busiest train station in Japan receiving about a million passengers every day. It is more than just a train station. Surrounded by many skyscrapers like Grand Front Osaka and Yodobashi Camera, Osaka station comprises of shopping malls, entertainment areas, food halls, and more.
Believe me, the station is so huge that you need to really be ahead if you plan to board a train from here. And thanks to the chic ambience and the bustling commuters running in all directions, your chances of getting lost in Osaka station is very high!
Don’t miss the futuristic design of the station featuring a fusion of modern architecture and minimalism at its best, reflected by its magnificent glass ceiling.
12. Watch a traditional Japanese Puppet Show
Bunraku or the puppets have been a popular entertainment form for many centuries in Japan. And it is surely one of Osaka Japan things to do.
The culture originated in Osaka, so what better place than to watch a puppet show?
In a large hall and 700 people along with you, you’ll see an excellent show combining storytelling, melodious music and of course, puppetry. English, as well as Japanese performances, are available. You can buy specific tickets to individual acts if you don’t have time to watch the entire show. available. Single tickets cost around ¥1,000.
13. Travel in Time to see Old Osaka
Want to know how Osaka looked like around 400 years ago? Visit The Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, where you travel back in time to the streets of Osaka centuries ago when the Edo period existed, replicated wonderfully.
You can explore this life-size recreation dressed traditionally, by renting a Kimono. Walk past traditional homes, stores and even a ship to witness lives of common people depicted through things curated meticulously with vivid details.
The Osaka Museum of Housing and Living timings: 10 AM to 5 PM
14. Relive your Childhood at Universal Studios Japan
One of the four Universal Studio theme parks in the world, Universal Studios Japan or locally popular as USJ, this theme park is for you if you are a fan of Disney world.
It is the most visited amusement park in Japan for a reason. There are 9 sections ranging from Jurassic Park to Minion Park. Plus, here in Osaka’s Universal studio, there is an entire section of exclusive Japanese anime, including Hello Kitty too.
It’s also worth visiting Universal Studios Japan if you are a Harry Potter fan as there is a miniature world of Wizard of Harry Potter.
Universal Studios timings: 8:30 AM to 9 PM but the timings change according to the season.
Universal Studios entry fees: The starting price is 70 USD but depends on age and the time of your visit. Check their website for timings and booking your tickets online directly.
15. Watch a Traditional Japanese drama with a beer
At Osaka Shochikuza, you can watch a Japanese drama as well as drink a freshly brewed beer. Yes, Osaka Shochikuza is the only theatre with a brewery at their restaurant Tachibana. This theatre is known for Kabuki, a traditional Japanese performance art, which includes dance and music.
You can buy a seat for the standing area which is not expensive to enjoy a performance. It is in Japanese but the artist’s mime isn’t difficult to get an idea of what you watch.
16. Check out the lion-headed Namba Yasaka Shrine
Namba Yasaka shrine is not another Buddhist temple. It is one of the cool things to do in Osaka. Believed to ward off any evil spirits that might be causing harm in your life, enter this shrine with a massive Lion-head or Shishi head for good luck.
Namba Yasaka timings: 6 AM to 5 PM
Entry fees: Free
17. Get your latest electronic gadgets at Nipponbashi Denden Town
Japan is known for all its awesome electronic stuff. As a part of your Osaka trip, check out what’s going on in the electronic markets. Den-Den town or locally popular as Nipponbashi, it’s an eclectic neighbourhood to buy cheap electronic goods and home appliances. If you can manage, haggling is also possible with the vendors for the best prices.
Nipponbashi is where you’ll find the nerdy locals shopping for things. It is also a popular place among the locals to check out anime, manga and various costume stores. If you want to play arcade games or head to one of those famous maid cafes, Den-Den town is the place.
18. Rejuvenate yourself at Spa World
Japan is blessed with thousands of natural hot springs all across. popular as Onsens. After a tiring day of Osaka sightseeing, hit Spa World, Osaka’s largest Spa centre.
Divided into 2 floors, one each for men and women, there are many themes based on continents, giving you different types of Onsen experience. You can relax here, spending as long as an entire day as there are massage centres, restaurants, a gym and a water park.
Signs are written in English, and like other Onsens in Japan, people with any tattoos are prohibited entering Spa.
19. Take the adventurous Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel ride
One of the adventurous things to do in Osaka is to go on a ride on Tempozan Ferris Wheel. Located at the edge of Osaka Bay, it’s a fun way to get a scenic view of the city’s skyline.
You can take a ride during the day or at night, but I recommend visiting the bay at night as the wheel is lit as well as the night view of Osaka skyline looks stunning from up there. A ride lasts for about 15 minutes and this is one of your answers if you are thinking about what to see in Osaka.
Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel timings: 10:00 AM to 9:30 PM
Tempozan Giant Ferris Wheel entry fees: 800 Yen.
20. Experience a slice of America in Amemura
Amerikamura or American Village is a part of Japan that is Americanized to its best. A popular hangout for local hipsters and the youth, visit this Osaka attraction for a different cultural experience. The area got its name after WWII, as it used to be the place to get American goods.
Today, it’s bustles with trendy shops, cafes, boutique restaurants along with famous landmarks like a replica of the Statue of Liberty and the Triangle Park.
Unusual things to do in Osaka
21. Pay a visit to the serene shrine Sumiyoshi Taisha
Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of the popular things to do in Osaka. The reasons being many. To start with, it is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan. It is a revered place of worship for the locals who gather in large crowds on New Year’s day. If you visit during non-peak hours, it feels like walking through a postcard. Take an hour or so to experience Zen in this beautiful shrine.
Sumiyoshi Taisha timings: 6 AM to 6 PM
Sumiyoshi Taisha entry fees: Free
22. Explore a replica of Paris in Shinsekai
Shinsekai translates to New World, but the name is actually contradictory. Osaka’s old downtown district was modelled after Paris. But once you enter the streets of Shinsekai, it is hard to relate.
Because, you’ll see how the place exudes retro charm, taking you back in time with its antique-like shops, lit up old traditional Japanese buildings. You’ll find tourists and locals thronging in front of these colourful lovely structures to take photographs.
23. Witness the old charm of Osaka in Tsutenkaku
Like Paris, the symbol of Shinsekai is Tsutenkaku Tower modelled on Eiffel Tower. Growing skyscrapers might have stolen the thunder, but the tower is still worth a visit especially in the evening when it glitters with all the lighting. Tsutenkaku tower functions as an observatory deck too, although there are other places for better bird views of Osaka.
24. Visit the tallest building in Japan – Abeno Harukas
The tallest building in Japan is in Osaka. Abeno Harukas, a multipurpose commercial building, consists of shopping centres, cafes, restaurants, a train station and even a museum dedicated to Glico.
After checking out as many of these, go to the glass-enclosed open Harukas 300, a 3-floor observation deck to get some spectacular views of Osaka. You can add this to your list of things to do in Osaka at night for a memorable experience.
Abeno Harukas observatory timings:
25. Make your own noodles at Instant Ramen Museum
Everyone knows about Ramen noodles. How about visiting a museum dedicated to it? Instant Ramen Museum is all about, well, noodles. Here, you’ll get to know about noodles – its origin, different types, flavours, how it is manufactured, and everything in between.
Taking a tour is also interesting Osaka activity because you can make your own Instant Ramen! Also, check out the tasting room to taste all the delicious types of Ramen noodles available.
Instant Ramen Museum timings: Closed on Tuesdays. 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
Instant Ramen Museum entry fees: 500 Yen.
26. Check out Japan’s latest fashion at Shinsaibashi
Another place in Osaka where you can spend days just shopping is Shinsaibashi district. Surprising as it may sound, Shinsaibashi has been a busy trading and shopping district since the Edo period.
High-end shopping malls are home to Japan’s best boutique stores, making it the place to know what’s the trend in Japan. The arcade consists of all of the kinds of fashion boutiques, along with shops, cafes and restaurants.
Another place worth checking out while shopping in Osaka is Sennnichimae Doguyasuji Shopping Arcade. The place majorly is known for kitchen appliances, but a walk in the market is a great way to take a peek into Japan way of life.
27. Enjoy nature at Minoo Park
Away from all the hustle lies Minoo Park, which is a huge park comprising of wonderful hiking trails, shrines and waterfalls. Depending on your preference and the time you have, you can spend a few hours to almost a day exploring the park amidst the gorgeous season flowers.
There are also guided walking tours taking on your specific trails. Also, don’t forget to try tasting a Maple leaf delicacy, where you eat a fried Maple leaf. Happens only in Osaka!
28. Check out the Tower of the Sun at Osaka Expo Park
Osaka Expo Park as the name says was created for an Expo in 1970. But to the travelers it is best known for the symbolic The Tower of the Sun. It is a unique structure depicting Japanese architecture. Note the Tree of Life and other artworks within the Tower. Located amidst a lovely garden with seasonal flowers, this is one of the relaxing Osaka trip experiences.
29. Check out Osaka Science Museum
If getting some science knowledge is something you want to do in your Osaka trip, then head to Osaka Science Museum. The 4-floor interactive exhibition will keep you occupied and entertained along with movies if you wish to watch at the planetarium.
Osaka Science timings: 9:30 AM to 5 PM
Entry fees: 400 Yen
30. Get to Know about Osaka’s past at Osaka Museum Of History
As the name suggests, the Osaka Museum of History educates you about the city’s past, taking you through its evolution over time. You would enjoy spending time here if history interests you.
Osaka Museum Of History timings: 9:30 AM to 5 PM
Osaka Museum Of History entry fees: 600 Yen
31. Check out the statues of bones at Isshin-Ji Temple
Located close to the Tsutenkaku tower, Isshin-Ji is one of the shrines worth visiting to find statues made of bones belonging to more than a million people.
32. See the various Japanese blooms at Nagai Botanical Garden
If gardening is your thing, you’ll love exploring Nagai Botanical garden. Comprising of carefully cultivated species of hundreds of seasonal flowers, shrubs and moss, wandering in the park is a fun thing to do in Osaka.
Nagai Botanical Garden timings: Closed on Mondays. 9:30 AM to 4:30 PM entry fees: 200 Yen
33. Go Karting on the busiest streets of Osaka
Imagine going Karting bracing road traffic in a big city? No, this isn’t just some fantasy that you got to imagine. You can make it true by renting a Kart for yourself. You should know the basics and can pick up the rest from the agents.
Keep your confidence and get rolling on the streets of Osaka for an adventure in Osaka that you’ll remember for good. To get into the role while driving, you can also rent your costumes of the many anime characters.
34. Amire the art at National Museum Of Art
Located underground, the National Museum of Art is surely one of the quirky things do in Osaka. You can appreciate the unique artworks of Japanese artists along with checking out contemporary art from various parts of the world.
National Museum Of Art timings: 10 AM to 9 PM
Entry fee: 430 Yen
35. Wander in chic Namba Park
Namba is not actually a park, but more than just a shopping mall. The lovely rooftop garden is where you’ll want to be to enjoy Osaka’s views as well as the cool weather. You can do nothing or just stroll along the paths. You’ll find many locals hanging out after a day and relaxing here during the weekends.
36. Try Sushi from the Conveyer-Belt
I didn’t get to try this, but I saw it looked fun. Different types of Sushi runs on a conveyer belt in front of you. You can pick the one you want and pay as you eat. More than the Sushi, it is one of the unique things to do in Osaka that you need to experience. You can find these shops in food halls and shopping malls. They are cheap as well to make it worthwhile.
37. Unwind in Utsubo Park
If you are looking for more Osaka attractions or another new garden to unwind, check out Utsubo Park, which is an urban relaxation centre as well as a park. You can play different outdoor games or visit the various exhibits on the premises or just take a walk amidst a well-maintained garden. Sure spending some time if you have to spare.
38. Watch a Sumo Spring Grand Tournament
If you plan Osaka travel during the spring, you have hit the jackpot. The Sumo Spring Grand Tournament in Osaka is a cool way to watch sumo wrestling live and it will surely one of the fun things to do in Osaka in spring. It happens in March and tickets sell out fast. You can buy the tickets online or get it from one of the convenient stores like Family Mart or 7-Eleven. Check the website to fit this activity in your Osaka itinerary along with planning to buy tickets at the earliest.
39. Witness Tenjin Matsuri Festival at Osaka Tenmangu
With a history of over 1000 years, Tenjin Matsuri or ‘The Festival of the Gods,’ is one of the major festivals in Osaka. If you travel in July, this would one of the amazing things to do in Osaka.
Lasting for 2 days, Osaka comes alive in this festival. Rituals, traditional dance performances, and fireworks fill the air. Parades, where thousands of revellers dressed for the occasion participate, make it a memorable trip experience.
40. Watch the enchanting Sakura at Kema Sakuranomiya Park
One of the many other things to do in Osaka if visiting during the spring is to witness Cherry Blossoms come into life. Kema Sakuranomiya Park is where the action happens. Be transported to paradise as you witness Hanami or Sakura blossoming along the 2-mile path along Okawa river in the park. It feels magical to just be there and take in all that beauty as about 5000 Sakura trees captivate your senses.
Even if you aren’t here during the blossoms, Kema Sakuranomiya is lovely to visit. Walking along the bank watching the world go by is surely a relaxing activity to do in Osaka.
How many days in Osaka?
You should keep aside at least 3 to 4 days to explore Osaka. 4 days would give you sufficient time to explore all the attractions including may be allowing time to cover a day trip. Check below to see how you can plan your Osaka trip
1 Day in Osaka
If you have just a day in Osaka, start with Osaka Castle. Then head to Tenjinbashisuji shopping arcade. As the evening sets in, head to Dotonbori for a typical Osaka nightlife experience where you can savour Osaka’s delicacies for dinner. Also, check out Hozenji shrine and the secret alley while you are here.
2 Days in Osaka
After your first day as above, plan your visit to Umeda Sky building. Then head to Sumiyoshi Taisha shrine and next to Shinsekai for excellent Osaka street food and Tsutenkaku Tower. Alternatively, you can also head to DenDen town in the evening.
3 or 4 Days in Osaka
Keep your 3rd day to explore Osaka Museum of History or if that’s not your thing, relax in one of the Onsens in Spa World. Then head to any of the lovely parks and/or check out Osaka bay. As the night sets in, take the adventurous Ferris ride. Go to Namba at night or Dotonburi if you don’t mind going again.
How to get to Osaka?
How to get around Osaka?
Japan is known for its excellent connectivity in the form of its trains so it goes without saying that you can easily get around Osaka using a combination of different rail connections. There are JR lines, metro lines, subway lines and railway lines belonging to private companies. If you plan to use trains extensively, go for 24, 48 or 72-hour subway passes which lets you use all metro and subway lines(no JR or private lines).
Buses are also available to go anywhere in Osaka. So that’s an option as well to travel comfortably in Osaka. If you prefer taxis, there are plenty of cabs that run as per the distance.
What is the best time to visit Osaka?
Osaka can be visited at any time of the year. The best time to visit Osaka is during the spring between March and May or between September to November around the fall. Tourists flock to Osaka for cherry blossoms or Sakura bloom in spring, and the city looks magical at this time. The fall colours add their unique charm to Osaka during autumn. It gets a bit cold during this season, but that’ll let you do special things to do in Osaka in winter.
Where to stay in Osaka?
Read more below to plan your Japan trip
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