The beauty of sightseeing in Osaka is that there are so many things to see and do, such as Dotonbori, Osaka Castle, which symbolizes Osaka, Tsutenkaku Tower, and Shinsekai.
If you are wondering where to go to have fun, I would like to introduce some of the best things to do in Osaka, Japan.
The bustling and energetic Dotombori is Minami’s representative downtown area that is known for its neon lights and flashy signs such as Crab Doraku and the Glico running man.
With more restaurants than you can shake a yakitori skewer at, the area is crowded with visitors day and night.
In the Meiji period (1868-1912), five theaters, collectively called Dotonbori Goza, lined the street, and many restaurants were built to cater to their customers.
A wonderful new addition to the area is the redeveloped Tombori River Walk, a promenade that runs along both sides of the Dotonbori River.
It is fun to relax at the restaurants and cafes along the promenade and watch the sightseeing boats carrying tourists move slowly along the river.
The always-bustling Kuromon Ichiba is a market with a long history dating back to the Edo period. Here you can get your hands on a variety of goods such as fish, vegetables, fruits, and clothing but it has now become well known for its street food.
It is popularly known as Osaka’s kitchen where a wide variety of fresh and inexpensive local food is on offer, professional chefs often visit the market to stock up because of its reputation for high freshness.
Many of the products are easy to eat and walk around, such as kushiyaki skewers and fruit juices, so it’s a good place to drop by when you are in the Namba Station area.
Osaka Castle Park
The commanding Osaka Castle is the unmistakable symbol of Osaka that tells the story of the rise and fall of the Toyotomi clan, and the area around Kyobashi, a town that flourished with railroads and is the gateway to Higashi, are attractive areas where the essence of Osaka remains strong.
Osaka Castle is one of the most popular tourist spots in Osaka, and the surrounding area is a wonderful expansive park.
Next to the Castle keep is Miraiza Osaka-Jo which houses a cafe and fashionable stores. The unusual prewar building is built to resemble an old European castle and has a wonderful retro atmosphere.
At Terrace, Osaka-Jo you can take a break and order a drink at the café while enjoying the fantastic rooftop view of Osaka Castle.
Osaka Museum Of History
The totally awesome Osaka Museum of History is located adjacent to Osaka Jo Castle and is a great place to learn about early Japanese culture.
Back in the day when Osaka was called Naniwa, the capital was moved from Asuka to this area due to the Taika Reform, and Naniwanomiya served as the capital for 150 years thereafter, but until the discovery of the remains in 1954, it was said to be a phantom capital.
Among the many materials and exhibits is the full-scale restoration of the Daigoku-den Hall of Naniwanomiya. Lined with vibrant vermilion-lacquered columns it is particularly impressive.
There is also a hands-on corner where you can try on the costumes of the Nara-period officials.
On the Contemporary floor, there is a corner that recreates Shinsaibashisuji Street in the early Showa period, and there are many fun exhibits where you can see and learn about Osaka’s fantastic history.
There is also a special combo ticket for the museum and Osaka Castle Keep, so it is recommended to visit the museum together.
Umeda Sky Building
The sky-high rooftop of the Umeda Sky Building offers a panoramic view of the Yodo River and the city of Osaka and beyond.
In the Umeda Sky Building’s Floating Garden Observatory, 40 stories high, the skyscraper consists of two towers, connected by a hanging garden observation deck on the 39th floor.
After taking pictures of the spectacular view from the 173-meter open deck, you can go shopping in the basement or dine at one of the restaurants. On the ground level, you can also enjoy modern gardens, promenades, beautiful plants, and waterways.
The charm of Shinsekai is its gaudy, sparkling electric signs and nostalgic downtown atmosphere and vibes.
Around Tsutenkaku Tower, there are many restaurants where you can taste Osaka’s gourmet food such as kushikatsu (skewered pork cutlets) and takoyaki (octopus dumplings).
The wonderfully retro Tsutenkaku Tower is a 108-meter-high observation tower that stands in Shinsekai, Osaka’s symbolic downtown area.
The Tower, which is inspired by the Eiffel tower caught fire in 1943 and was demolished the following year, but was rebuilt in 1956 with donations from local volunteers.
Tsutenkaku Tower is now one of the beloved landmarks of Osaka and has been a popular tourist attraction for more than 100 years.
The historically important Shitennoji was Japan’s first Buddhist temple built by none other than Prince Shotoku in the first year of Emperor Suiko’s reign and is designated as a National Important Cultural Property.
It is a valuable temple built in the oldest architectural style in Japan and is definitely worth a visit. The fascinating Zen meditation sessions are held twice a month on Tuesdays from 6:30 to 8:00 am.
Much of the original temple complex was lost during the bombing raids during world war 2 but the buildings have been rebuilt in a style consistent with the original.
Abeno Harukas 300
The towering Abeno Harukas is a huge skyscraper that rises 300 meters above the ground and lays claim to the tallest building in Japan.
The building houses the Kintetsu Department Store, an art museum, a wonderful observation deck called the Harukas 300, a swanky hotel, offices, and even a rooftop helipad, making it a modern landmark of Osaka.
The Sky Garden 300, a café restaurant on the 58th floor, is a popular spot for its beautiful night views.
It is located in the observation area for which a fee is charged, but the spectacular view is sure to impress.
There are terrace seats and indoor seats, and light meals such as curry are served in addition to the popular pineapple soft serve ice cream and drinks.
Another one of the best things to do in Osaka is to visit the envigorating Spa World where you can enjoy hot springs in various styles from around the world.
The surprisingly large facility has swimming pools, esthetic clinics, massages, bedrock baths, gourmet food, and other facilities that can be enjoyed by both children and adults.
It’s not your typical traditional Japanese onsen but if you have never tried a hot spring in Japan before this is a great introduction to the bathing culture before you try a more traditional hot spring experience.
Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan offers a wide variety of entertainment based on Hollywood movies and is characterized by its thrilling attractions such as The Flying Dinosaur and Hollywood Dream that will make any roller coaster enthusiast yell with delight.
The expansive amusement park is divided into nine areas, each with attractions, food, restaurants, and merchandise stores that match the vibe of each world.
The fun Minion Park opened in 2017, and its popularity is increasing rapidly as it is overflowing with adorable minions. This is a theme park you want to visit at least once in your life.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
The awesome Kaiyukan is a huge aquarium located right next to Osaka Bay in Minato ward that currently ranks within the top three in Japan.
The aquarium starts with a tunnel-shaped tank and as you walk, you proceed to the bottom of the ocean. Visitors can enjoy the beautiful marine world while observing the marine life that lives in various parts of the ocean.
The giant aquarium reproduces the Pacific Rim environment and is so powerful that it can be said to have changed the impression of conventional aquariums.
The gain and majestic whale sharks are the stars of the show and have become mascots of this fantastic aquarium.
Tempozan Ferris Wheel
Located in Tempozan Harbor Village, one of Osaka’s most popular leisure spots, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel is one of the largest Ferris wheels in Japan, with a height of 112.5 m and a diameter of 100 m.
A ride around the giant wheel takes 17 minutes and offers great views out over Osaka Bay
Osaka Station City
Osaka Station City is a complex in Umeda that includes JR Osaka Station and is a good place for those wanting to do some shopping. To the south of the station is the South Gate Building, which houses the Daimaru Umeda Store and Hotel Granvia Osaka.
To the north is the North Gate Building, which offers a full range of shopping and dining spots. There are also many plazas and greenery in the facility, and many spots to take a break, such as our personal recommendation, the Farm in the Sky cafe.
The relaxing Nakanoshima Park is a 1.5 km riverside park that is surrounded by the Dojima and Tosabori Rivers. Established way back in 1894, it is the oldest park in Osaka City.
With seasonal flowers in full bloom, it is a true urban oasis and a place of relaxation for local workers and a strolling course for families living in the city.
The impressive rose garden, which boasts 3,700 roses of about 300 varieties, is at its best in May and October. After checking out the rose garden, a lawn area spreads out, where families can be seen spreading out their lunch boxes.
Nearby is the Osaka Central Public Hall with its retro atmosphere, and the Nakanoshima Prefectural Library along with cafes and restaurants.
On the south side of the river, there are some great cafes and restaurants where you can sit on the water’s edge. For espresso, coffee lovers make a beeline to Broklin Roasters where you’ll get some of Japan’s best coffee.
Osaka Science Museum
Right on the river in Nakanoshima is the educational and fun Osaka Science Museum which is all about Space and Energy. With many hands-on exhibition booths and science shows it’s a great place where parents and children can enjoy learning together.
The mindblowing planetarium is one of the largest in the world, and its scale is nothing short of spectacular as it shows a vibrant milky way sky in crystal clear clarity.
National Museum of Art Osaka
The stylish and modern National Museum of Art, Osaka has a great location in Nakanoshima and is one of the few museums in the world that is completely underground.
The subterranean Museum mainly collects and exhibits contemporary art. Its exterior design, which is inspired by the vitality of bamboo and represents the development and growth of contemporary art, makes it an eye-catching sight even if you don’t intend to enter the gallery.
Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine
Osaka’s mystical Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine has a history of more than 1,800 years and is lovingly called Sumiyosan by the people of Osaka, many of whom visit the important shrine on Hatsumode at the start of the New Year.
The shrine’s vibrant red bridge that you pass over is well known and can be quite steep so watch your step.
This is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Japan and a heap of annual events is held at Sumiyoshitaisha, and in August, the shrine is illuminated at night, creating a fantastic atmosphere on the shrine grounds.
The area around Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is lined with old-fashioned, folksy stores and Osaka’s only remaining tram nearby.
Visit Osaka’s Korean Town
There are two large Korean towns in Osaka: Tsuruhashi and Ikuno. Each is only a 10-minute walk away from the other, so you can easily visit both areas at once.
It’s a great place to sample the popular Korean gourmet foods such as Yakiniku and there are many stores selling beauty products and Korean idol goods, making it a popular spot among young people.
Instant Ramen Museum
The surprisingly fun Instant Ramen Museum is a fantastic little museum built to commemorate the achievements of Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Foods, who famously invented the world’s first instant ramen.
Here you can learn about the history of cup ramen, its birth story, and the production process, and discover the secrets of the cup ramen that is said to have changed the world’s food, not to mention kept many poor and hungry college students fed over the years.
In addition to the exhibits, there is the My Cup Noodle Factory, where you can make your own original Cup Noodles.
The picturesque Minoh is famous for its vibrant autumn leaves and waterfalls. It’s also home to Minoh Onsen, a popular hot spring, and a great way to finish up after a hike to the waterfall.
Tenjinbashi-Suji Shopping Street
Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Street is the longest shopping street in Japan and is both a sightseeing spot and a living area for local residents.
Here’s a place where you can feel the real Osaka and there are many cheap and delicious restaurants. It is an attractive area in a nostalgic way where you can enjoy interacting with friendly shopkeepers.
If you go off the shopping street and go into the back alleys, you will find many inexpensive and delicious sushi restaurants and trendy standing bars, which are great places to meet the locals.
Osaka Tenmangu Shrine
At the river end of Tenjinbashi Suji is the revered Osaka Temmangu Shrine which was founded in 949 and is the home of one of Japan’s 3 great festivals.
According to shrine legend, in 901, Sugawara no Michizane, who was serving as the Minister, was defeated in a power struggle at the Imperial Court and transferred to Dazaifu near present-day Fukuoka. On his way there, he stopped at the Daishogun Shrine on the grounds of the current Tenmangu Shrine to pray.
It is said that after Michizane’s death, Emperor Murakami heard that a shining pine tree had grown there and enshrined him at the Daishogun Shrine. Since then, the shrine has become the guardian deity of the Tenma area and a spiritual center for local people and Osaka merchants as a god of learning and entertainment.
Expo ’70 Commemorative Park
This vast park was built on the site of Expo `70, the 1970 Osaka World’s Fair and is a great place to go to wind down and escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown Osaka.
The iconic symbol of the park is the Tower of the Sun, created by famous Japanese artist Taro Okamoto. The park is a popular sightseeing spot with a tranquil Japanese garden and a nature garden as well as a variety of cultural facilities.
Various events are held in the vast event space, and there are also sports facilities, barbecue plazas, and facilities where visitors can enjoy hot springs.
More Things To Do In Osaka Japan
When visiting Osaka we hope we’ve been able to give you some great ideas. Just in case hear is a few more of the best things to do in Osaka Japan.
- Sumo wrestling at Sumo Spring Grand Tournament at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium
- Drive around Central Osaka in a Go Kart
- Visit the open-air Museum of Housing and Living
- Eat deep-fried skewers known as Kushikatsu
- Visit Hōzen-Ji, a Buddhist temple with a famous moss-covered statue Fudomoyo
Kansai International Airport
Kansai International Airport (KIX) is an international airport that operates 24 hours a day and caters to the Kansai region and Western Japan.
As a large airport with annual traffic of approximately 20 million travelers, it is used by many international travelers to the Kansai region and has a variety of facilities.
The Airport also has an aviation theme park called SkyView and there is a playground for children and a sky deck with a panoramic view. In the airport, you can also buy Osaka and Japanese souvenirs as well as limited-edition goods that can only be purchased at this airport.