Things To Do
Osaka is often referred to as a ‘mini Tokyo’, however it is much more than a copy cat city. It is known for its modern architecture, vibrant nightlife, hearty street food and outgoing locals. While there are lots of sites to visit in Osaka, including the famous Osaka Castle, the best way to experience the city is to wander the streets, talk to the locals and get lost in the culture.
An impressive building surrounded by stunning gardens, Osaka Castle is rich in history having been built and destroyed numerous times over the years. The current castle, which houses a museum, is a testament to traditional Japanese architecture. The castle is situated in a gorgeous park with shrines, citadels, moats, a tea house, a guest house and hundreds of beautiful cherry trees.
Only 15 minutes from downtown Osaka by train, Universal Studios is a must for anyone with kids or any big kids at heart. With so many attractions, rides and shows on offer it’s a good idea to get the express pass. Tickets and express passes can be purchased online at Klook which will allow you to skip the queue, however you need to book well in advance.
Located out of Osaka Himeji Castle, also known as the ‘White Heron Castle’ is a breathtaking structure with a brilliant white exterior. It is one of the only castles to remain untouched by fire, earthquake or war, allowing a look at the complex defence systems from the feudal period. As the largest and one of the oldest castles in Japan it has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it now the most visited as well.
A bustling area in the heart of Osaka, with streets lined with bars, shops and restaurants. Illuminated with colourful neon signs and huge signs, the area is vibrant and fun and offers some of the tastiest food at affordable prices. Dotonbori is a hotspot for tourists but you will also find many locals indulging in ‘kuidaore’ which means ‘eat till you drop’.
Another famous entertainment and shopping hub in Osaka, with countless stores, attractions, restaurants and bars. If you are in the mood for shopping this is the place to go, with an undercover shopping street offering everything from high end boutiques, huge department stores to the weird and wacky souvenir shops.
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Known as one of the largest and best aquariums in the world with 15 tanks housing over 30,000 creatures encompassing 620 species. The aquarium is impressive with a variety of exhibits showcasing the marine life of the Pacific Rim, including controversial dolphins and whale sharks.
Close to Shinsaibashi, this is another popular area of Osaka, known for its small boutique shops, second hand stores and flea markets. It is popular with young and trendy Japanese who like to hang out, especially on weekends where you will usually see street performers.
For the foodies among you, a visit to Kuromon Market (known as Osaka’s Kitchen) should be on your list. With over 150 shops selling fish and other fresh produce as well as sweets and homewares, you can purchase to take home or eat straight away. The market is usually crowded which adds to the exciting atmosphere and charm, which dates back to the Edo period.
National Bunraku Theatre
If you are looking to see some local culture and traditional artforms, a visit to the Banraku Theatre should be on your to do list. Showcasing a range of artforms of the Kamigata area, with a focus on Banraku which is a puppetry performance mixed with opera. For non Japanese speakers there is an audio guide available to give you the rundown of the performance.