Translated by Lester Somera
Just a Kansai guy trying to get by
Second only to Tokyo as a tourist destination, Osaka is known for gourmet fare like takoyaki and okonomiyaki. This article will recommend what to see and eat when you visit this great Kansai city.
The heart of Japan’s western Kansai region, the city of Osaka is about 500 kilometers from Tokyo, two and a half hours away on the fastest Shinkansen train.
Around 500 years ago, Osaka took its first steps toward becoming the great metropolis it is today, when the samurai lord Hideyoshi Toyotomi built Osaka Castle. As the city developed its own culture and flourished as a trade hub, it became second only to Edo (now Tokyo) in major metropolitan status; Osaka’s influence on Japanese food culture is so significant that the city is nicknamed “the nation’s kitchen,” and regional cuisine from all over Japan can be found in Osaka.
In modern times, Osaka is known for characteristic dishes like takoyaki, okonomiyaki and teppanyaki, and travelers flock to its popular landmarks like Osaka Castle and the Dotonbori district.
1.Getting To Osaka
2.Traveling Around Osaka And Bargains On Tickets
3.Osaka Area Guide
4.40 Places You Should See In Osaka
5.Osaka Shopping Spots
6.Convenient Tourist Information Centers In Osaka
7.A Model Itinerary For Tourists To Osaka, And Where To Stay When You’re In Town
8.Osaka Gourmet Dining And Souvenirs
9.Learn Some Phrases In The Local Osaka Dialect
10.Events In Osaka
11.Osaka Weather And What To Wear
12.Helpful Information For Your Osaka Trip
The Shinkansen is the most convenient way to get to Osaka. The journey takes two and a half hours and costs around 15,000 yen. The train ride is smooth and the trains are spotless, making for a comfortable commute. It also takes the least time compared to other methods.
For more information, check out our Traveling from Tokyo to Osaka? A Guide for Prices and Times article. Also, if you plan to take the Shinkansen, getting a Japan Rail Pass beforehand will save you a lot of money.
Take the Keikyu Airport Line Airport Express train to Shinagawa Station, switch to the Shinkansen line and head to Shin-Osaka Station (14,030 yen, three hours).
Take the Narita Express to Shinagawa Station, then transfer to the Shinkansen line and head to Shin-Osaka (16,180 yen, four hours).
We recommend taking a highway bus if you’re trying to travel on a budget, or if you want to make the most efficient use of time. Tourists can use a special Japan Bus Pass to cheaply visit several cities.
From Kansai International Airport, you can take the nonstop JR Kanku Rapid Express to Osaka Station (1,190 yen, 65 minutes).
For more information, check out our Kansai International Airport article.
Osaka is replete with public transportation options, and tourists can travel around the city on trains, buses, the subway and more. Many different train lines operate in major stations, so it’s essential to confirm where you’re going beforehand.
JR trains travel the length and breadth of Osaka Prefecture. As the biggest station in western Japan, JR Osaka is particularly important as the hub that connects the city to Kyoto, Kobe and Tokyo. No traveler should miss the chance to ride on the Osaka Loop Line, which runs in a circle within the city.
There are networks of buses all throughout the city, like the Osaka Sky Vista, an open double-decker bus operated by Kinki Bus. For 1500 yen (1000 yen for children), passengers can take a guided bus tour to sightseeing spots like Osaka Castle and the Osaka Sky Building. The bus tour takes place entirely aboard the bus, which does not make stops. Nevertheless, if you want to efficiently see as many places as possible, feel free to hop on the Sky Vista.
Osaka’s subway system has eight lines: Midosuji, Tanimachi, Yotsubashi, Chuo, Sennichimae, Sakaisuji, Nagahori-Tsurumi-Ryokuchi, and Imazatosuji. Of these eight, visitors to the city will make the most use of the Midosuji (the Red Line), which stops at three important Osaka areas: Namba, Shinsaibashi, and Umeda.
The Nanko Port Town Line connects Cosmo Square Station to Suminoe-Koen Station.
There are plenty of places to call for a taxi or rental car in Osaka, and the city has a comparatively high number of parking spaces, so tourists who want to travel at their own pace can also avail of this option.
For more information, check out our Osaka access article.
The Osaka Unlimited Pass (also known as the Osaka Shuyu Pass) allows holders all-you-can-ride access on the city subway and buses, as well as the Hankyu, Hanshin, Keihan, Nankai and Kintetsu train lines. It also comes with special privileges, like free admission to Tsutenkaku Tower, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, the Tennoji Zoo and more. The pass is 2,300 yen (same price for children and adults).
Sold by the Transportation Authority, the Suito Osaka Mankitsu Pass allows holders special privileges at 63 bars, restaurants and sightseeing venues within the city, as well as unlimited one day access on the subway, city buses, and the New Tram. It also comes with an all-you-can-ride pass for the three cruises on the Osaka Water Bus.
Tourists who pick up an Enjoy Eco Card get unlimited access on the subway, New Tram, and all bus lines for one day. An Enjoy Eco Card is 800 yen for adults, but is discounted to 600 yen on weekends.
For more information, check out our Enjoy Eco Card article.
Kita, a bustling downtown area, and Minami, a hotbed of entertainment and gourmet dining, are two of the five zones that comprise the city of Osaka. We’ll introduce you to the five zones, each with their own character, flagship products and sightseeing spots.
The Kita district, the heart of Osaka, is centered around Osaka Station and the surrounding Umeda area. While its ever-growing transport network makes it a hub for commuters, Kita is also known for producing fashion and art on the cutting edge. In 2013, the Grand Front Osaka shopping facility opened next to Osaka Station. With 266 stores, customers can relax and get their shopping done while they enjoy the nature spaces inside the building.
Kita is also home to places like Osaka Station City, which is where you should go if you want to get ahold of Osaka’s latest trendy items.
Namba is the center of the flourishing Minami district, with its bright lights and bustling streets. Visitors to Minami need to walk through the captivating Dotonbori area, with its thriving nightlife, and the Shinsaibashi area, a hotspot for Osaka youth culture.
Minami also has places to see kabuki theater and manzai, a historical remnant from the Edo period, when the area was home to playhouses and theaters. If you’re interested in experiencing what really makes Osaka “Osaka,” Minami is the place to be.
The bay area symbolizes Osaka’s legacy as a harbor town, with aquariums, shopping malls, Ferris Wheels, observatories and theme parks - notably, Universal Studios Japan. Inhale the ocean breeze as you enjoy your day outdoors.
This area features many historical sites surrounding the castle itself, with museums and other facilities. Another location in this area is Kyobashi, a shopping district that has remained the same for generations, where you can experience a piece of Osaka’s history. The area is also home to popular spots like Osaka Business Park and Mitsui Outlet Park Osaka Tsurumi, and a visit to this area is a window into both classical and modern Japan.
Tennoji, Abeno and Shin-Sekai are in the southern part of Osaka City. In this area, you can find many Osaka landmarks, such as Tsutenkaku Tower and Abeno Harukas, as well as zoos, museums, temples and more.
Shin-Sekai, where Tsutenkaku is located, is great for shopping and dining out. The spectacle of the area’s brightly-colored shop signs has been around for generations, and you should visit if you want to experience a truly retro Osaka vibe.
For more information, check out our Osaka Guide article.
Osaka Castle is known as the symbol of the city. Its main castle tower was repaired in 1931 through donations from the local residents, leading to its current appearance. At several times throughout the year, notably during cherry blossom season, the castle grounds are illuminated. For more information, check out our Take A Walk Around Osaka Castle article.
Address: Osaka City, Chuo Ward, Osaka Castle 1-1
Visitors to the Universal Studios Japan® theme park can experience the magic of Hollywood, at attractions such as Jaws, Jurassic Park: The Ride, and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. These reproductions of movie worlds have made USJ incredibly popular.
For more information, check out our article on Universal Studios Japan® article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture,, Osaka City, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima 2-1-33
Namba straddles the line between Chuo and Naniwa Ward. This renowned commercial area is home to places like Takashimaya, Namba CITY, Namba Parks, Namba Marui, as well as the Ebisu, Nankai and Sennichi-mae Doguyasuji shopping districts.
Dotonbori is a bustling downtown area in Chuo Ward. The southern part of Dotonbori is home to many nightlife venues, and the northern part has rows upon rows of restaurants, as well as food stalls selling local dishes like okonomiyaki and takoyaki. This is the place to visit if you want to sample true Osaka flavors.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Chuo Ward, Dotonbori
For more information, check out our Dotonbori article.
Midosuji cuts across the northern-southern axis of central Osaka, and is one of the city’s representative shopping areas. The Sogo and Daimaru department stores contain rows of directly managed name-brand shops for companies like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Cartier.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Chuo ward
The Shinsaibashi district is home to fashion spots like Etoile and Parco, and offers all sorts of fashion options to suit any budget, with casual stores like Uniqlo and Gap, high-class accessories at Cartier and Bulgari, and sports gear outlets such as Adidas.
For more information, check out our Shinsaibashi article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Chuo Ward, Shinsaibashi-suji
On the western side of Shinsaibashi, fashion-minded young people crowd the streets of Amerikamura, a breeding ground for new stylish trends. With its boutiques and cafes, the area is known as ground zero for the diffusion of Osaka youth culture.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Chuo Ward, Nishi-Shinsaibashi 1-６
Shin-Sekai is close to the Tsutenkaku Tower, one of Osaka’s classic symbols. This area is gourmet paradise for working-class people, and its gaudy signs beckon customers into busy restaurants. Try some of the famous kushi-katsu (deep-fried meat on skewers) while you’re there.
For more information, check out our kushi-katsu article.
Address: Osaka City, Naniwa Ward, Ebisu-higashi
This corner of Shin-Sekai is a pillar of Osaka’s food scene, with restaurants that serve oden, dote-yaki, kushi-katsu and more. For more information, check out our Janjan Yokocho article.
Address: Osaka City, Naniwa Ward, Ebisu-Higashi 3-Chome
Tsutenkaku stands 103 meters tall, and visitors at its viewing platform can see all of Osaka. Naturally, the draw of Tsutenkaku is the view from the top floor, but you can also relax at the cafe, which has the exclusive Tsutenkaku Parfait on the menu.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Naniwa Ward, Ebisu-Higashi 1-chome, 18−6
Abeno Harukas opened in 2014, and is one of Japan’s tallest aboveground buildings, at over 300 meters. The building contains viewing platforms, hotel facilities, shopping outlets, and a museum.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Abeno Ward, Abenosuji 1−1−43
The 173-meter tall Umeda Sky Building was completed in March 1993. With two basement floors and 40 floors above ground, this skyscraper was chosen by the English newspaper "The Times" as one of the world’s top 20 buildings. From the aerial observatory, you can see the entirety of Osaka and the rest of Umeda.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Kita Ward, Oyodonaka 1-1-88
For more information, check out our Umeda Sky Building’s Floating Observatory article.
One of Osaka’s famous shopping areas, you can find Western-style clothes, ceramics, cosmetics and all sorts of goods at the stores here. Tenjinbashi-suji is said to be the longest shopping district in Japan.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Kita Ward, Tenjinbashi
For more information, check out our Tenjinbashi article.
The Expo Commemoration Park is located on the former site of the 1970 Japan World Expo. This vast park contains a lush green plaza, spaces to barbecue, a Japanese garden, sports facilities, and even an onsen. The Tower of the Sun, an installation created by famous Japanese artist Taro Okamoto, is the symbol of the park.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Suita City, Senri Banpaku-Koen 1-1
Affectionately known as Ponbashi, Nipponbashi is famed for its Denden Town, a consumer electronics shopping quarter. Many of the stores in this area specialize in wireless devices and audio equipment, as well as items that cannot be found at big box stores, like audio cables and miniature radios for amateurs. For more information, check out our Nipponbashi article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Naniwa Ward, Nipponbashi
Senbayashi’s shopping quarter, with 220 stores spread out over a span of 660 meters, contends for the top shopping spot in the Osaka area. There are many stores selling household goods and groceries, and local residents visit Senbayashi to do their shopping. With light fare like takoyaki and sweets such as monaka ice cream and crepes, you should drop by Senbayashi if you’re feeling a little hungry. For more information, check out our Senbayashu article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Asahi Ward, Senbayashi 1-5−20
Located on the grounds of Expo Commemoration Park, Expo City is a place where you can enjoy leisure and shopping. The outlet boasts various entertainment facilities and 305 stores set up by Lalaport Expo City. The Pokemon Expo Gym is a highlight forchildren, as well.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Suita City, Senri Banpaku-Koen 2−1
Located inside Tempozan Harbor Village, Osaka’s leading leisure spot, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel is Japan’s largest Ferris Wheel at a height of 112.5 meters and a diameter of 100 meters. One full rotation takes 17 minutes, so enjoy your unhurried journey through the sky.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Minato Ward, Chikko 3-11−8
Known as a treasure trove of delicious food, Kuromon Market in Nipponbashi rivals Tsuruhashi Market in Higashinari Ward and Toyonaka City’s Honan Market in scale.
Of the market’s 180 stores, half of them deal in seafood. The other stores handle fruits and vegetables, dried goods and the like, and there is even an unaffiliated general grocery store. For more information, check out our Kuromon Market article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Chuo Ward, Nipponbashi 2-4−1
Horie, on the western side of Shinsaibashi, has rows of cool interior deco shops, cafes, and specialty boutiques. For more information, check out our Horie article.
Located in Namba, Hozenji is a Jodo Buddhist temple. After you pay your respects, take a stroll around Hozenji Yokocho. The elegant paths of paved stone are lined with restaurants, okonomiyaki stalls, bars, lounges and all sorts of places serving food and drink. For more information, check out our article on Hozenji Temple.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Chuo Ward, Namba 1−2−16
The temple of Jiganji, located in Daito City, is also known as Nozaki Kannon. If you make a short hike up the path behind the main temple building, you can get an outstanding view of Osaka’s open plains. For more information, check out our Nozaki Kannon article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Daito City, Nozaki 2-chome ７−１
The biggest aquarium in Kansai opened in 1990, and its collection contains 620 species of marine life, totalling 30,000 specimens.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City, Minato Ward, Kaigan-dori 1-1-10
For more information, check out our Kaiyukan article.
Produced by the popular Kaiyukan aquarium, Nifrel is known as “the living museum.”
The exhibits are conceptualized around visitors getting the chance to “experience sensitivity,” so the artistic displays are intended to transcend the boundaries of “aquariums,” “zoos” and “museums.” As such, the living specimens are not limited to aquarium animals like fish and waterside creatures; there are also mammals and birds in the exhibits.There are no fences between the creatures, so visitors can truly enjoy the sensation that they’ve wandered into animal kingdom.For more information, check out our No Fences At Nifrel, The Living Museum article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Suita City, Senri Banpaku-Koen 2-1, inside Expo City
This quasi-national park is a half-hour train ride north from the center of Osaka. With an area of 83.3 hectares, this park contains the magnificent Mino Waterfall and the Mino Park Museum Of Insects. The park is a great place to see the fall foliage, and many of the nearby shops will be selling Mino’s famous local specialty, maple leaf tempura.
Address: Mino City, Mino Park 1-18
For more information, check out our article on The Best Places to Admire The Autumn Leaves In Osaka.
The restaurant and cafe-lined road from Hankyu Mino Station to the Mino Waterfall, known as Mino Takido, is a place to relax. For more information, check out our Mino Waterfall article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Mino City, Mino Park
A quasi-national natural valley park, the vast Hoshida-Enchi Park is easily accessible by train. The park’s abundance of natural beauty makes it an enjoyable hiking spot. and there is a trail on the forest railroad, which people can stroll down while looking out at the riverbed. A 16.5-meter man-made climbing wall offers the chance for some vertical exercise, as well.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Katano City, Hoshida 5019−1
For more information, check out our The Best Places to Admire The Autumn Leaves In Osaka article.
Daisen Park was chosen as one of Japan’s 100 Historical Parks, and is situated between the imperial tombs of Emperor Nintoku and Emperor Richu. You can see an incredibly gorgeous view of the vast park, its bountiful natural scenery and its historic tombs.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Sakai City, Sakai Ward, Mozusekiun-cho 2
For more information, check out our Osaka Autumn Leaves article.
This mountain in Daito City is perfect for nature hikes. To walk the historical Osaka trails on Mt. Imori, we recommend the course which starts from Nozaki Kannon, 10 minutes from JR Nozaki Station. From there, you can also stop by Shijo Nawate Shrine, among other special sites.
Located on the eastern side of Nakanoshima Park, this rose garden features 4000 roses in bloom, running for five hundred meters from east to west. The park has around 310 varieties of roses in all sorts of hues, including red, purple, and yellow, a true feast for the eyes. For more information, check out our Nakanoshima Rose Garden article.
Address: Osaka City, Kita Ward, Nakanoshima 1
Narukawa Park is a vast park that stretches 204 hectares, from Kuragari-toge Pass to Narukawa-toge Pass. Crowds of visitors flock to the park in April and May, when the azaleas are in full bloom. For more information, check out our Azaleas in Narukawa Park article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Higashi-Osaka City, Kamishijo-cho
Marble Beach is the 900-meter beach on the bank opposite Kansai International Airport (KIX). White marble stones are scatterd along the beach, forming a pretty contrast with the blue ocean. It is also highly regarded for its night view. For more information, check out our Marble Beach article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Izumisano City, Rinku Orai-Kita 1-271
At the Instant Ramen Museum, you can make a one-of-a-kind Cup Noodle to take home with you. It’s the perfect souvenir for any visitor to Osaka. For more information, check out our Osaka Instant Ramen Museum article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Ikeda City, Masumi-cho 8-25
Enjoy coffee and sweets while you look at Buddha statues at this quirky cafe in Minami-Honmachi. Takahashi, the owner, says that looking at one of the statues is like gazing into your own soul. No matter how many times you look, you won’t get tired of the fascinating statues at this precious cafe. All of the statues on display are available for purchase. For more information, check out our Semba 223 Cafe article.
Address: Osaka City, Chuo Ward, Minami-Honmachi 2-5-9, Yuman Building B1F
Grado is a Japanese-style cafe built out of a renovated 70-year old home. The front of the cafe is lined with little bonsai trees, and almost all of them are for sale. However, make sure that your home country will allow you to bring back a plant through customs. For more information, check out our article on Cafe Grado.
Address: Osaka City, Sumiyoshi Ward, Kamisumiyoshi 2-15-29
This super public bath in Osaka has a rich variety of baths for guests to soak in, including a special Dead Sea bathtub, open-air baths, and the “Duck Yokocho Festival Bath,” which has a huge number of little duck figurines floating in the water. For more information, check out our An Onsen With Yellow Ducks: Kutsurogi-no-Sato Yuraku, Ōsaka article.
Address: Osaka Prefecture, Osaka City Suminoe Ward, Kita-Kagaya 3−5−37
Located underneath Tsutenkaku, Eat Osaka is a cooking studio where visitors can learn how to make Osaka’s famous starchy dishes and other Japanese food in a Japanese-style room with paper walls. The lessons are conducted in English. For more information, check out our Eat Ōsaka: Let's Learn To Cook Japanese Food! article.
Address: Osaka City, Naniwa Ward, Ebisu-Higashi
This is the main branch of canned-food bar Mr. Kanso, which has 30 branches across Japan. At Mr. Kanso, customers order a canned food item from the varied selection to eat along with their drinks. Mr. Kanso also sells cans by themselves. For more information, check out our Canned Food Bar "mr.kanso" by the Dotonbori River article.
Address: Osaka City, Nishi Ward, Minami-Horie 1-5-26, Canal Terrace Horie 2F
The Misono Building, a Minami night spot, was built in 1956. Go up the spiral staircase to the side, and you will find a multi-tenant facility with a somewhat suspicious array of unique businesses lined up to greet you. This is the place to go to enjoy the nightlife of Minami. For more information, check out our The Underbelly Of Namba On The 2nd Floor Of Misono article.
Address: Osaka City, Chuo Ward, Sennichi-mae 2-3-9 Misono Building 2F
Visitors to this temple can have a fun time learning about the hell that could await them after death. The temple has likenesses of Great King Enma - who passes judgment on the dead and sends them to heaven or hell - as well as other infernal artifacts such as mountains of needles and burning chariots. Discover the terrifying spectacle of the underworld at Senkoji.
Address: Osaka City, Hirano Ward, Hirano Motomachi4-12-21
For more information, check out our Hell Thriller in Hirano at Senkoji article.
Herbis Plaza ENT is a shopping outlet close to Umeda Station, with plenty of famous fashion boutiques, including well-known Japanese brands. There are also Japanese and Italian restaurants on the B2F level, and you can relax even if you stay for a long stretch.
Grand Front Osaka, with its 266 stores, is located right by the north exit of Osaka Station. When you want to take a break from shopping, enjoy the meticulously-crafted atmosphere of the building’s rooftop garden.
Hep Five, a commercial complex near Umeda, Station has many fashion boutiques and accessory shops targeted at young people. The red Ferris Wheel atop the seventh floor is an Umeda landmark, and offers riders a view of the entire Osaka cityscape.
The shopping complex Namba Marui is a short walk from Namba Station, with fashion floors for men and women, as well as a movie theater. Many of the shops in Namba Marui deal in the latest trendy items, so this is the place to go to discover what’s hot in Osaka.
Hoop is a fashion building in Tennoji, shaped like a hoop-bound barrel. The building contains 60 shops, and its lights illuminate Osaka at night. You should definitely stop by when you visit Tennoji.
The OPA building in Shinsaibashi is a haven for all sorts of fashion, with casual wear shops, high-class brand-name boutiques and even used clothing stores. The front of OPA, emblazoned with the OPA logo, is often used as a meetup spot by young people. By all means, drop in when you visit Shinsaibashi.
Tennoji Mio is a commercial complex above JR Tennoji Station. Boasting 251 stores with a focus on fashion, the facility is ready to serve the needs of a wide range of customers.
Renovated in 2013, the building now has a modern-looking exterior, and is receiving attention as a new shopping spot.
Found in western Shinsaibashi, the streets of Amerikamura - “Amemura” for short - are lined with clothes shops touting their unique fashion sense and various food stalls. Many stores deal in used clothes or imported goods, which is why the area is sometimes called the Osaka Harajuku. It’s a must-see for visitors to Shinsaibashi.
Namba Parks, close to Namba Station, features over 240 stores stocked with the latest fashions. There are also interior deco shops and accessory stores. The rooftop features a garden, an oasis in the metropolis. If you go shopping in Namba, you need to go here.
Shinsaibashi-suji is a 600-meter arcade that stretches from Shinsaibashi to Namba, with around 180 stores. The arcade has pamphlets in English, Korean, and Chinese (Simplified and Traditional) as well as free wi-fi access and duty-free shopping. Shinsaibashi-suji has been around for a long time, and is a comfortable place to get all your shopping done.
Opened in March 2014, this new building in Abeno Ward is 300 meters aboveground, and one of Japan’s tallest buildings. The 360-degree glass viewing platform affords visitors a good look at the Osaka cityscape, and the view reaches all the way to Kyoto and Nara. With famous brand-name shops, you can find the cosmetics and apparel you’re looking for. There are also salons with exclusive service for tourists, as well as tax-exemption counters and foreign currency exchange services.
In addition to its tourist sights, Osaka has a deep-rooted mercantile culture. Buy as much as you like in the towers and the shopping streets.
For more information, check out our 11 Umeda Shopping Spots article.
There are two Kansai Tourist Information Centers (KTIC) in Shinsaibashi. The staff can provide advice on how to get to your destinations, recommend places to go, help with buying tickets, handle luggage and ship packages. There is also free wi-fi access for looking up information, as well as tourist brochures. In addition, the KTICs sell bargain tickets for travel around Osaka and the Kansai area. If you need some help, please stop into a KTIC. For more information, check out our KTIC article.
To make the most of a two-day stay in Osaka, we recommend this itinerary.
Morning: Go to Universal Studios Japan
Afternoon: Visit Shin-Sekai
Night: Head to Kita and ride the Hep Five Ferris Wheel
Morning: Go to the top of the Umeda Sky Building
Early Afternoon: Head to Minami and shop in Namba
Late afternoon-evening: Check out Osaka at street level; visit Dotonbori and Shinsaibashi
Evening: Go shopping at Abeno Harukas
Night: Enjoy a meal of okonomiyaki
For more information, check out our Two-Day Osaka Itinerary article.
Osaka has plenty of places to stay for all sorts of travelers, from high-class foreign hotels like the Ritz Carlton and Hilton to business hotels and traditional inns for businessmen and tourists.
The Awaji guesthouse Mokumoku was built out of a renovated 60-year old row house. Guests will be happy to receive the perk of free unlimited entry to the public bath next door.
Other unique hotels include the love hotel Hotel Fuki, with interior design that resembles a Japanese castle. Choose the right hotel for you, and enjoy your travels around Osaka.
This bite-sized fluffy treat is made from a flour-based batter, mixed with octopus and other ingredients, which is then fried into balls. You can enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth texture along with the aroma of the ocean. You can top it with mayonnaise too.
Okonomiyaki is made by mixing a flour-based batter, cabbage and other ingredients together, then cooking it atop a hot griddle. The ingredient variations are too numerous to count, but they can include grated yam, seafood, pork, mochi, cheese, so feel free to add whatever you like.
Tonpeiyaki is on the next tier of popularity on Osaka behind okonomiyaki and takoyaki. This omelet-esque dish is made by stir-frying shredded pork and cabbage, wrapping it in egg, then covering it in sauce and seaweed before eating.
Negiyaki is a starchy dish like okonomiyaki, but uses onion instead of cabbage. This variation is popular in the rest of the Kansai region, as well as in Osaka.
Kushi-Katsu is made by dipping various ingredients on skewers - meat, vegetables, seafood - into batter and deep-frying them. Take a skewer, dip it into the pot of sauce on your table and chow down while it’s still piping hot. There is a rule at almost all kushi-katsu restaurants: no double dipping! This rule exists because the next customer will use the same pot of sauce, so be considerate.
This noodle dish features kasu - deep-fried beef entrails - atop a bowl of udon. The spongy taste is quite excellent. Also, udon and soba broth in Osaka varies from the version in Tokyo; it’s said to be lighter in flavor.
Osaka is the only place in Japan where you can eat this special curry. The curry purposely features few other ingredients: just onions and beef. Jiyuken wants its patrons to savor the essence of curry, and since the restaurant was founded, the curry’s original flavor has withstood the test of time.
Packed with sweet onions and juicy pork, these buns are carefully prepared by hand, and they will melt in your mouth. Since they contain pork, make sure that they aren’t on the list of items banned by customs in your home country.
These representative Osaka dishes can be sampled in places like Dotonbori and Shin-Sekai. Eat your fill of the food that’s been satisfying Osaka residents for generations. For more information about Osaka food, check out our Six Foods From Osaka article.
Nakanoshima Rusk and Tsukigesho are a few of the snacks which are popular Osaka souvenirs.
The Osaka dialect resembles the speech in Kyoto and Kobe, and it has a characteristically fast pace, with a tempo that seems like the speaker is firing off rapid-fire questions. We’ll introduce some Osaka Japanese that you can really use.
Meccha means “very much,” and is used for emphasis. Meccha suki (“I love it a lot”), meccha yoi (“it’s great”), meccha kakkoi (“it’s so cool”), meccha niau (“it really suits you”), meccha oishi (“it’s so delicious”)... meccha can be used in all sorts of situations.
“You’ve gotta be kidding,” or “What the…?” This phrase is usually used as a retort to someone else making a joke or silly comment. If the fellow tending bar closes your tab and tells you, “Thanks, that’ll be seven million yen,” reply with a hearty “Nande ya nen!”
This means “Can you lower the price a bit?” Osaka people live for discounts, and haggling has long been a part of Osaka culture.
Of course you can’t do this at department stores or supermarkets, but you can talk your way into a discount at consumer electronics stores and mom-and-pop shops, so remember this phrase if you’re looking to pick something up for less than sticker price.
“Right then, see ya later.” When you part ways with someone from Osaka, see them off with a “hona,” or “hona, sainara.”
“Thanks.” You will often hear Osaka shopkeepers saying this to their customers.
For more information, check out our Osaka dialect article.
When April rolls around, the streets of Osaka will be awash in sakura colors. Osaka Castle Park and Kishiwada Castle are particularly popular spots to see the blossoms. Kishiwada Castle is lit up at night, and visitors can enjoy the night blossoms.
This festival is held in Osaka Temmangu, and is one of Japan’s Three Great Festivals along with the Gion Festival in Kyoto and the Kanda Festival in Tokyo. At the climax of the festival, boats laden with many paper lanterns cross the Ogawa River.
Held in Kishiwada City, the best part of this festival is seeing the danjiri - decorative floats - racing through street corners at full speed.
Late November and December are time for the autumn leaves to change color. At the Osaka Castle Park, visitors can enjoy both the red maple leaves and yellow gingko leaves. For more information, check out our Osaka Autumn Leaves article.
In the winter, various places such as the Midosuji, the Nagai Botanical Garden, the Kaiyukan, and the Shin-Umeda City Wonder Square will all have bright light displays.
Osaka gets little precipitation year-round, and is known for its hot summers. Don’t forget to hydrate, wear a hat and/or use sunblock to ward off heat stroke and protect yourself from UV rays. Snow is rare in winter, but temperatures can drop suddenly, so bring a thick coat, gloves and hat to stay out of the cold.
Osaka people are comparatively friendlier than people in other cities, so if you get lost, don’t hesitate to ask a local. In particular, shopkeepers enjoy a chat, so don’t forget to try out your Osaka dialect and drop a “makete.”
One thing to note is that Osaka is different from Tokyo when it comes to escalators - Osaka people stand on the right, not the left. Make a note of this, and enjoy your trip to Osaka!
Where can you exchange foreign currency? Head to a bank or Seven-Eleven ATM.
When you’re out of pocket money, look for any ATM with a Plus insignia to use cashing services with no hassle.
Here are some useful Japanese phrases you can use when you’re staying at a hotel.
To use the convenient free wi-fi services in Japan, download this app beforehand.
How much can you expect to spend on food while traveling in Japan? Figure out your budget before you set out on your journey.