The Top 7 Things to Do and Attractions to Visit in Osaka
Osaka is often seen as Japan’s second major city after Tokyo, with a reputation as the food and comedy capital of Japan among the local people. It’s also a port city with Osaka Bay along its western border and a relatively quick train ride from Kyoto, one of Japan’s main tourist destinations, with its beautiful shrines and temples. Osaka joins its counterpart of Tokyo as a nightlife and food hub, with plenty of old and new attractions to visit and take in the culture and scenery of this energetic city. People from Osaka are known in Japan to be warm and friendly people, so a visit to this welcoming city is highly recommend. Here are seven things you can't miss out on doing when traveling to Osaka.
The Top 7 Things to Do and Attractions to Visit in Osaka:table of contents
First up is Osaka Castle, one of the most famous and majestic castles in all of Japan. Osaka Castle was built by one of the great unifiers of Japan in the 16th century, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, as a military base to maintain power over the area due to its location near the capital at the time: Kyoto. It was thanks to Toyotomi Hideyoshi and other feudal lords that Japan came out of the long and bloody Warring States Period.
After having burned down in conflicts and restored several times over the centuries, visitors to the city can admire this castle from the park and surrounding moat for a small glimpse into feudal Japan. In the park, there are plum, peach, and cherry blossom trees along with street performers and other fun live-action performances you’ll be able to catch if you plan for them or go on a whim. Inside the castle you’ll find a modern, fascinating museum, that gives an incredible insight into Japan's colorful history.
Universal Studios Japan
A sibling to the famous Universal Studios found in the United States, Japan's version brings its own character and Japanese spin to the classic adventure land. You'll find rides at Universal Studios Japan that you won’t find anywhere else, in particular the wildly popular Wizarding World of Harry Potter area that millions of people visit every year. You’ll also find attractions that began in Japan like the ever-popular Hello Kitty. One-day passes start at ¥7,400 for adults and ¥5,100 for children.
Dotonbori in Namba at Nighttime
While Dotonbori is also great to visit during the day, it's at night when you can really feel it come alive as one of Osaka’s busiest tourist sights. You’ll know you’re in Dotonbori when you come across the iconic canal and Ebisu Bridge, where you’ll find a great view of Dotonbori’s signature Glico running man billboard, brightly lighting up the area. That’s not all; there are plenty of famous landmark restaurants running along the canal too. The first one you’ll probably spot is Kani Doraku, a restaurant famous for the giant crab on its sign. You also can’t miss Otakoya, a popular takoyaki stand along with Zubora-ya, a restaurant which specializes in blowfish and many other popular Japanese dishes.
Sumiyoshi Taisha (Grand Shrine)
If you're looking for traditional Japanese architecture and a serene Shinto ambiance, look no further than Sumiyoshi Taisha. There are other similar Shrines throughout Japan, but this one in Osaka is the head of all the Sumiyoshi Shrines and one of the oldest Shinto shrines in all of Japan. People go to this shrine to pray for health and prosperity and put their feet in spiritual power spots like the distinctive arched bridge known as Sorihashi. You can really get to know more about religion in Japan and people's high respect for Shinto gods by visiting this fascinating shrine. With its rich history and stunning architecture and gardens, it'll surely take your breath away.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
While visiting an aquarium might not seem so unique and special, a visit to the one in Osaka is highly recommended. As one of the largest of its kind in the world, the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan brings a huge range of marine habitats of the Pacific up close and personal for the curious visitors with a love for marine life. You'll find a number of animals from isolated islands like ringed seals from the Arctic, rockhopper penguins from the Falkland Islands, along with manta rays and whale sharks from the Maldives. There’s definitely plenty to see and fun to be had no matter how old you are when visiting this aquarium.
Expo ‘70 Commemorative Park
The Expo ‘70 Commemorative Park was built to commemorate the World’s Fair held here in 1970. It’s now home to a myriad of recreational facilities to check out such as a full scale replica of Satsuki and Mei’s house from Ghibli movie 'My Neighbor Totoro' and the Tower of the Sun, from the popular anime 'Naruto.' There are also plenty of amusement attractions here like the shopping haven of LaLaport Expocity and a soccer stadium to cheer on the local Gamba Osaka team. For people who might be interested in something more educational, you can also find ancient artifacts which date back to 14,000 B.C. in ancient Japan at the National Museum of Ethnology. Or just hop on a rental bike and enjoy the seasonal foliage through the park’s beautiful meadows.
Kuromon Ichiba Market
A three-minute walk from Osaka’s Nipponbashi subway station, Kuromon Ichiba Market is an outdoor, covered market street where merchants sell the freshest of ingredients and produce. Kuromon Ichiba is especially known for its freshly caught seafood and has been a spot for local fishermen to bring their daily catches since the early 19th century, when they would trade with cooks who would specifically seek out the delicious seafood that they would need.
The name 'Kuromon Ichiba' literally means 'black gate market', named after the black painted gate that used to be its iconic landmark. Before it was called Kuromon Ichiba, the market used to be called Enmyoji Ichiba after the temple that stood here. The gate and temple, however, burned down in a large fire in 1912, but the name Kuromon Ichiba stuck around in the hearts of the locals.
Osaka will be sure to wow you with things that you might be used to where you’re from but have never experienced with a Japanese twist. Even familiar places like amusements parks and aquariums are more fun to experience in a foreign country because you’re in a completely new part of the world with its own unique environment and culture. There’s plenty to do to unwind as well so make sure to kick back and relax!