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Things to do in Osaka

Things to do in  Osaka

Welcome to Osaka

Packed with street food stalls, neon-fronted bars, and modern developments, Japan’s second city is a commercial hub whose streets come to life after dark. Either side of the Yodo River, ancient temples, museums, and Osaka Castle—one of Japan’s most visited attractions—stand testament to ancient Japanese tradition, while in the city center the America Mura and Dotombori neighborhoods thrum with modern vibrancy. A culinary tour is a must in Osaka and the city’s close proximity to Nara, Kyoto, and Kobe make it a convenient base from which to discover the diverse treasures of Japan.

Top 10 attractions in Osaka

#1
Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan

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Universal Studios Japan—Asia’s first Universal Studios theme park—is second only to the Tokyo Disney Resort as Japan’s most visited amusement park. Beloved characters like Shrek, Hello Kitty, and Spiderman are in attendance, and a spectacular variety of rides, movie simulators, and parades keep all ages entertained.More
#2
Nara Park (Nara Koen)

Nara Park (Nara Koen)

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Located in the heart of Nara City, Nara Park (Nara Koen) is famous for the more than 1,000 semi-wild sika deer that roam its grounds. Spanning 1,631 acres (660 hectares), the scenic public park is also home to several popular attractions, including the Todai-ji Temple, the Isuien Garden, and the Nara National Museum.More
#3
Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo)

Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo)

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Among the most famous castles in Japan, Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo) dates back to the 16th century, when it played a major role in unifying the nation. Today the reconstructed castle houses a museum filled with artifacts from the history of Japan and from the castle’s creator, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The main tower provides a nice view over urban Osaka.More
#4
Himeji Castle (Himeji-Jo)

Himeji Castle (Himeji-Jo)

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If you only have time for one day trip from Kyoto or Osaka, make it Himeji Castle (Himeji-Jo), renowned as Japan’s most beautiful historic citadel. Also known as White Heron Castle, the UNESCO-listed hilltop structure was built in 1580 and features a five-story central tower with surrounding moats, walls, and pagodas.More
#5
Dotonbori

Dotonbori

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Dotonbori (also called Dotombori) is a bustling nightlife district in Osaka’s Minami area. It stretches along the Dtomborigawa River, with a multitude of small restaurants, bars, and neon lights that come alive after nightfall. An entertainment neighborhood, Dotonbori is famous for its varied cuisine and huge animated signs.More
#6
Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan)

Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan)

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One of the largest public aquariums in the world, the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is home to various species from the Pacific Ring of Fire and aquatic environments around the globe. Learn about local species such as Asian otters and giant spider crabs, and see other creatures, including sea turtles, sharks, penguins, and a host of tropical fish.More
#7
Tsutenkaku Tower

Tsutenkaku Tower

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Vintage fun comes to Osaka in the shape of the Tsutenkaku, Osaka’s answer to the Eiffel Tower. Tsutenkaku, translated into "tower reaching heaven," reaches 338 feet (103 meters) high, making it one of the tallest buildings in Asia when it was built in 1912.Beautifully illuminated and outlined in neon by night, the tower has a decidedly kitsch but cute 1950s futuristic look. Take the elevator to the observation deck on the summit’s fifth level to visit the popular good luck symbol, Billiken, the God of Happiness. A popular American doll in the early 1900s, Billiken was enshrined in the nearby Luna Park, but went missing when the park closed in 1923. To revive the tower and park, a replica was put in the tower and is considered a good luck symbol. Each year thousands of visitors place a coin in his donation box and rub the soles of his feet to make their wishes come true.Tsutenkaku also boasts some other cool features. The neon lights at the top of the tower are also a weather vane and will predict the next day's forecast. And the clock located on the east side of the building is huge - 18 feet (5.5 meters) across and weighing about 55lbs (25kg). There is also a theater and a few toy museums located within!More
#8
Shitenno-ji Temple

Shitenno-ji Temple

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Built in the 6th century by Prince Shotoku—a cultural hero who helped to bring Buddhism to the country—Shitenno-ji is one of Japan’s oldest temples. The complex includes a multi-tiered tower, pagoda, lecture hall, and gate. Though most of the current structures are from the 1963 rebuilding, they still reflect the 6th century design.More
#9
Minami

Minami

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Minami is a well-known shopping, dining, and entertainment district in Osaka. With retail and nightlife stretching from Semba to Namba Station, Minami is popular with visitors and tourists alike. Lit by dazzling neon signs, including the famous Kani Doraku crab sign, Dotonbori is the most lively and famous part of the Minami area, especially at night. It runs parallel to the canal, and never truly closes, with some restaurants open until morning. For the culture vultures, there are a number of museums, theaters, temples, and shrines to explore among the neon lights and towering shopping malls.Join a walking tour that covers this part of the city or take an evening food and drink stroll in Shinsaibashi and Namba to take advantage of the local nightlife.More
#10
Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

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The sky feels within reach on the 112.5 meter tall (369 feet) and 100 meters wide (330 feet) Tempozan Ferris Wheel, one of Osaka’s main attractions. Until recently, the Wheel held the title of the world’s biggest and highest Ferris wheel; now it has been eclipsed by a small handful of others, including the London Eye in England. The Tempozan Ferris Wheel takes riders on a 15 minute ride that shows off views of Osaka city, a panoramic view of the nearby sea and Osaka Bay Harbor, and sights of mountains in the distance. At night, the Wheel is illuminated and all of Osaka shines under neon lights and moonlight; it is known as one of the most romantic spots in the city.In addition to its impressive size and breathtaking views, the Wheel boasts incredible technology. Colored lights decorate the wheel, and they illuminate in patterns that tell the next day’s weather forecast. When the Wheel is orange, visitors can expect a sunny day, and when it is blue, rain is on the way. The Tempozan Ferris Wheel is located in the Tempozan Harbor Village, next to the Osaka Aquarium and the Tempozan Marketplace, a midsize mall.More

Trip ideas

Top Temples and Shrines in Osaka

Top Temples and Shrines in Osaka

Recent reviews from experiences in Osaka

star-5
Great Tour!
Shannon_M, Mar 2020
PRIVATE Half-Day Osaka 4-Hour Off-The-Beaten Track Walking Tour
This was an awesome tour and I highly recommend this to anyone that is wanting to see Osaka!
star-5
Great Tour!
Patrick_O, Feb 2020
Osaka's Best and Brightest by Private Vehicle
Great way to see Osaka.
star-5
Nice food and experience
Annisa_M, Feb 2020
Kuromon Market Food Walking Tour in Osaka
She takes us walking around the market, buying sushi and souvenirs, and also recommended us another interesting place to visit.
star-5
Osaka tour
Cara_B, Feb 2020
Osaka Walking Tour
He was able to recommend places to see and sites to see while in Osaka.
star-5
Many thanks to Hiro!
Milada_V, Dec 2019
Osaka Half-Day Private Tour with Nationally-Licensed Guide
Adopted the tour to a senior person for whom is English a second language.
star-5
Interesting, relaxed tour
Patricia_O, Dec 2019
Deep Backstreet Osaka Tours
It was good to be able to see the other sides of Osaka.
star-4
Good Ride for a Good Cause
mbetts2019, Nov 2019
Osaka Bike Tour to the Neighborhood of Osaka Castle
It is a good way to see the Osaka Castle area and some temples, not to mention a close up view of Osaka traffic.
star-5
Fun, tasty and interesting!!
donaldbetson, Oct 2019
Walkabout Food Tour in Osaka
interesting to see a different part of Osaka to the main tourist spots and everything we tried was excellent!
star-5
Great!
AnaPaula_M, Apr 2019
Osaka Walking Tour
The guide was very funny and speak a perfect English.
star-5
A great overview of Osaka
Angelica_G, Apr 2021
Osaka virtual tour
It was a great overview of Osaka's culture, history, and cuisine, and it made me really want to visit Osaka once travel is possible again.
star-4
A fun way to see Osaka
Ashleigh_M, Feb 2020
Street Osaka GoKart Tour with Funny Costume Rental
We had a lot of fun and it was a great way to see Osaka.
star-4
the seemy side of Osaka
Julie_H, Nov 2019
Deep Backstreet Osaka Tours
Lots of walking but that's what you need to do to get to see these places.
star-5
Awesome Class with
Diana_E, Nov 2019
Sushi Cooking Class in Osaka
My family and I visited Osaka and were looking for fun activities that we could do in addition to sightseeing.
star-5
PRIVATE TOUR is the BEST!
joygme, Oct 2019
Osaka's Best and Brightest by Private Vehicle
He was warm and sincere, friendly, and very good in English.
star-4
Wonderful Osaka Food Market Experience
PHILIP_S, Sep 2019
PRIVATE Deep Dive: Osaka Food Markets from Local to Luxurious!
I highly recommend this tour to anyone that wants to see the real Osaka behind the scenes food ingredients experience.
star-4
The tour was really interesting with...
Andrew R, Apr 2018
Deep Osaka All-Inclusive Nighttime Foodie Cultural Experience
The tour was really interesting with an English speaking guide who has lived in Osaka for many years.
star-4
The guide: Michiko was on time and...
Taj_S, Sep 2017
Muslim-Friendly Private Tour of Osaka
Even though it says|the tour is a Muslim-Friendly, we had no chance to visit a Mosque in the city of Osaka where we can observe our prayers|and see the architecture of the building, meet some people etc.
star-5
Hands down the best tour I have ever...
Kevin S, Apr 2018
Osaka Backstreet Night Tour
A great experience and one I will do again if fortunate enough to visit Osaka again.
star-5
My brother and I had a wonderful...
Lesley_D, Apr 2018
PRIVATE Half-Day Osaka 4-Hour Off-The-Beaten Track Walking Tour
The tour is a must for visitors who would like to see more than just the main attractions and learn a little about life in Osaka.
star-5
Good overview
catherine_T, Mar 2019
Osaka Walking Tour
She points out things for you to see after the tour and helps you master the subway.

A local’s pocket guide to Osaka

Ichiro Ando

Ichi is an office worker-turned-tour guide in Osaka, his home city. Here, the locals have a reputation for being comedians (just joking) and the food is some of the best in Japan.

The first thing you should do in Osaka is...

go to Dotombori and eat takoyaki (fried balls stuffed with octopus) on the street.

A perfect Saturday in Osaka...

starts in Shinsekai with Smart Ball, a pinball-esque arcade game, and a okonomiyaki (savory pancake). Afterwards, visit the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, and walk to the Namba neighborhood.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Osaka Castle. The tower, moat, stone walls, and park that surrounds the castle are beautiful.

To discover the "real" Osaka...

go to Karahori Shopping Street, which still has a traditional vibe. Visit salted kelp and green tea shops; browse at local supermarkets; and eat at affordable noodle restaurants alongside Osakans.

For the best view of the city...

go to the observation deck of the Umeda Sky building that was ranked as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking Osakans are all both stingy and funny. We’re frugal, sure, but we won’t all make you laugh. And Osaka Castle wasn’t rebuilt by Samurai!

Frequently Asked Questions
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