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Osaka

Osaka - 15 Must See Spots, Both Famous And Little Known

Osaka 2019.06.09 Bookmark

Osaka is a popular destination that rivals Tokyo and Kyoto. A city that flourished as a merchants’ town, Osaka is a vibrant metropolis. We’ll introduce the iconic places to visit in Osaka: shopping facilities, theme parks, observation decks, aquarium, and more!

Translated by Sandy Lau

Written by Kousuke DEKI

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Osaka - The Exciting Metropolis of Western Japan

Osaka rivals the popularity of Tokyo and Kyoto. A very large city, it offers everything from delicious food to shopping over a theme park to places of historical importance.

In this article, we introduce fifteen places that shouldn't be missed out on a trip to Osaka.

Table of Contents:

1. Dotonbori: Everyone's Favorite Spot in Osaka
2. Amerikamura: Shop Vintage Clothes and Eat Takoyaki
3. Universal Studios Japan (USJ): Have Fun All Day Long!
4. Osaka Castle: A Towering Icon of the City
5. Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai: Where Osaka’s Past and Present Coexist
6. Kuromon Market: Delicious Foods
7. Kuchu-Teien Observatory: A Great View of Osaka
8. Kaiyukan: Japan’s Largest Aquarium
9. Tempozan Ferris Wheel: Recommended for Couples
10. Abeno Harukas: Japan’s Tallest Building
11. National Bunraku Theatre: Witness the Traditional Performing Arts
12. Sumiyoshi Taisha: Osaka’s Best Spiritual Spot
13. Minoo Falls: Stunning Scenery
14. Expo ’70 Commemorative Park and Tower of the Sun: Fun for the whole Family
15. CUPNOODLES Museum Osaka Ikeda: Create Your Own Cup Noodles

1. Dotonbori: Everyone's Favorite Spot in Osaka

Dotonbori

© Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

Dotonbori is one of the most famous places to visit in Osaka.

It is best known for the large billboards that are on display in rows. Photogenic billboards are located everywhere throughout the shopping district. From the signboard of the confectionery maker Glico, featuring a runner with both arms raised, to a large moving crab, the design of these signs is really unique. The district looks even more impressive when it is illuminated in the night.

The approximately 580 meter long shopping street connecting Shinsaibashi to Dotonbori is lined with restaurants and apparel stores. This street is crowded with people every day and contains all of Osaka’s charms in one place. There are many restaurants offering the local foods of Osaka on this street.

Dotonbori
Address: Osaka, Chuo, Dotonbori 10 Google Map
Access: 5 minutes walk from Namba Station

2. Amerikamura - Vintage Clothes and Takoyaki Heaven

Osaka Dotonbori

Amerikamura, also known as the American Village or Amemura, is a popular subculture place in Osaka. It is also known for its second-hand stores and delicious takoyaki. Its name stems from the many import shops in the area which are selling goods from America.

The second-hand stores in the area range all the way from extremely affordable to brand name vintage stores. Although their popularity is slowly growing, second-hand stores are still rather rare in Japan so to find so many of them in the same place makes Amerikamura a treasure trove.

Amerikamura
Address: Osaka, Chuo Ward, Higashishinsaibashi Google Map
Access: 3-minute walk from Shinsaibashi Station

3. Universal Studios Japan (USJ): Have Fun All Day Long!

USJ

Photo courtesy of Universal Studios Japan
Universal Studios Japan is a theme park with a collection of facilities and rides based on famous Hollywood movies. In recent years, it has expanded to include some of the most popular Japanese entertainment as well. Sailor Moon, Attack on Titan, Neon Genesis Evangelion and even Godzilla have been part of their special line up so far.

Popular permanent attractions include Jaws, Jurassic Park: The Ride, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Minion Park. Universal Studios Japan also holds seasonal events such as the "Universal Surprise Halloween".

Universal Studios Japan
Address: Osaka, Konohana Ward, Sakurajima 2-1-33 Google Map
Access: 3 minutes walk from Universal City Station
Website: https://www.usj.co.jp/e/

4. Osaka Castle: A Towering Icon of the City

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle towers over the city of Osaka. It is one of Japan’s Three Most Famous Castles.

Erected in 1583 by Hideyoshi Toyotomi, the ruler who unified Japan, it was then destroyed by a fire and was repeatedly repaired. Its current shape dates back to 1931 when it was reconstructed. It is illuminated at night, exuding a magical atmosphere. A park is located in the area around the castle and is where approximately 3,000 cherry blossom trees go in bloom in the spring.

Osaka Castle
Address: Osaka, Chuo Ward, Osakajo 1-1 Google Map
Access: 19 minutes walk from Osaka Business Park Station

5. Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai: Where Osaka’s Past and Present Coexist

Osaka

Picture courtesy of pixta

Tsutenkaku, also considered the symbol of Osaka, is a 103-meter tall observation tower that offers a complete view of Osaka's cityscape. The Billiken statue, located on the fifth-floor observation deck, is said to bring happiness if you rub the soles of his feet, resulting in constant lines of people who want to do this.

The area around Tsutenkaku is called Shinsekai and it is lined with souvenir shops and restaurants. Here, you can enjoy shopping and food among flashy signboards and a lively atmosphere. This is a popular spot that boasts a retro landscape and the best of Osaka food.

Tsutenkaku Tower
Address: Osaka, Naniwa Ward, Ebisuhigashi 1-18-6 Google Map
Access: 8 minute walk from Shin Imamiya Station

6. Kuromon Market: Delicious Local Foods

Kuromon Market

The market is where you can experience the energy that's unique to the city. Kuromon Market is the most famous marketplace in Osaka.

The foods that stand out are the raw oysters, sea urchins, seafood bowls, wagyu beef, and luxurious fruit. There are approximately 180 shops with fresh fish, quality meat, and fruit, as well as restaurants side by side in this marketplace.

The staff at the information center in the marketplace offers support in various languages. There are free Wi-Fi, currency exchange machines, and baggage rooms (with a fee) available so that you can shop hassle-free.

Kuromon Ichiba Market
Address: Osaka, Chuo Ward, Nipponbashi 2-4-1 Google Map
Access: 3 minute walk from Nippombashi Station

7. Kuchu-Teien Observatory: A Complete View of Osaka

Umeda Sky Building

The Umeda Sky Building was mentioned as one of the Top 20 Buildings Around the World by THE TIMES magazine. What will catch your eye is its unique triumphal arch-like shape.

The Kuchu-Teien Observatory is located on the 40th floor, the very top floor of the building. From here you can view the city from the rooftop while enjoying a 173 meter above ground 360-degree panorama. A beautiful night view chosen as one of the Top 100 Night Views of Japan will spread out before your eyes if you visit in the evening.

Umeda Sky Building
Address: Osaka, Kitaku 1-1-87 Google Map
Access: 11 minute walk from Umeda Station

8. Kaiyukan: Japan’s Largest Aquarium

Kaiyukan

One of the main characteristics of Kaiyukan is that it is the world’s largest aquarium boasting a 5,400 ton capacity. The sight of large whale sharks leisurely swimming in between sharks and rays is simply incredible.

The aquarium, as well as the Tempozan Ferris Wheel located next door, is a typical date spot for the locals.

Kaiyukan
Address: Osaka, Minato Ward, Kaigandori 1-1-10 Google Map
Access: 11 minute walk from Osakako Station

9. Tempozan Ferris Wheel: Recommended for Couples

Tempozan

The Tempozan Ferris Wheel is located inside the Tempozan Harbor Village, a prominent and general Osaka leisure spot, right next to Kaiyukan. It is Japan’s largest Ferris wheel at 112.5 meters in height and 100 meters in diameter. It takes fifteen minutes for it to do one complete revolution, so you’ll be able to leisurely enjoy a journey up into the sky.

The fact that you can not only see a complete view of Osaka but also gaze down at the ocean spread out before you is another charm of the Ferris wheel. The scenery at night is also known to be romantic.

Tempozan Ferris Wheel
Address: Osaka, Minato Ward, Kaigandori 1-1-10 Google Map
Access: 7 minute walk from Osakako Station

10. Abeno Harukas: Japan’s Tallest Building

Abeno Harukas

Abeno Harukas is Japan’s tallest building. Its height is an amazing 300 meters!

The shopping floors reach up to the eleventh floor and consist of clothing shops, general goods, and more, while the twelfth to fourteenth floors are restaurant floors. These floors are made up of 44 restaurants offering dishes from Japanese cuisine like sushi, tempura (fried foods), and unagi (eel) to Italian and French cuisines.

After tasting Osaka specialties here, head further up the building. The sixteenth floor hosts the Abeno Harukas Art Museum where artworks from around the world are exhibited. The 58th to 60th floors are observation decks. You can have various ways to enjoy yourself in just this one building.

Abeno Harukas
Address: Osaka, Abeno Ward 1-1-43 Google Map
Access: 9 minute walk from Tennoji Station

11. National Bunraku Theatre: Witness Traditional Performing Arts

Bunraku Theatre

Photo courtesy of the National Bunraku Theatre

For those interested in the traditional Japanese performing arts, we recommend the Bunraku Theatre. Bunraku is a traditional performing art representative of Japan that rivals that of Kabuki (classical drama) and Noh (musical) theatre. It was designated a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2008.

Bunraku is a type of puppet theater. A single puppet is controlled by three people, thus making its movements beautiful and delicate while expressing various emotions.

The tayu or narrator performs the narration and dialogue of the characters while a shamisen (three-stringed Japanese instrument) plays the background music of the story.

Bunraku performances will offer English audio guidance (for a fee) as well as free leaflets (English, Chinese, Korean) printed with a summary of the story. Reservations can be made through the official website.

National Bunraku Theatre
Address: Osaka, Chuo Ward, Nipponbashi 1-12-10 Google Map
Access: 4 minute walk from Nipponbashi Station

12. Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine: A Spiritual Spot in Osaka

Sumiyoshi Taisha

© Osaka Government Tourism Bureau/©JNTO

Sumiyoshi Taisha is the head Sumiyoshi shrine of 2300 shrines located across the country. It is a shrine that is representative of Japan and has a history that goes back more than 1800 years ago. The main shrine hall is considered one of the oldest of this style of Shinto shrine architecture and has been designated a National Treasure.

The shrine grounds are overflowing with spiritual energy. The history of the shrine can be felt in the symbolic Sorihashi Bridge, in the numerous treasures and cultural assets found here, and in the amphor trees that are over one thousand years old.

Sumiyoshi Taisha
Address: Osaka, Sumiyoshi Ward, Sumiyoshi 2-9-89 Google Map
Access: 4 minute walk from Sumiyoshitaisha Station

13. Minoo Falls: Stunning Scenery

Minoh Falls

If you wish to experience nature in Osaka, travel to Minoo Park, which is situated about 30 minutes by train from the city.

You will find a magnificent waterfall when you hike up a mountain trail with a clear stream flowing nearby for about 40 minutes. This is the Minoo Falls, a waterfall that was also chosen as one of the Top 100 Waterfalls in Japan. In the season of the fall foliage, the maple trees begin to change color, making the surrounding scenery look incredibly beautiful.

A famous local food is maple leaf tempura. You might hesitate at first, thinking “They eat leaves?”, but you’ll become addicted to its rich sweetness once you’ve tried it.

Minoo Onsen Spa Garden is located near the entrance to the mountain trail, so we also recommend washing away your sweat at the hot springs before returning home.

Minoo Falls
Address: Osaka, Minoo, Minookoen 2 Google Map
Access: 40 minute walk from Minoo Station

14. Expo ’70 Commemorative Park and Tower of the Sun: Fun for the Whole Family

Expo

Photo courtesy of Osaka Japan Expo Commemorative Park Office

The Expo Commemorative Park is the former site of the World Exposition held in 1970. The site is now a park.

Its symbol is the Tower of the Sun. Designed by artist Taro Okamoto, it is a tower of approximately 70 meters in height.

It would be great to refresh yourself at the green-filled Natural and Cultural Gardens, or take a walk through the Japanese gardens, or even enjoy documents on ethnic groups from around the world at the National Museum of Ethnology. Additionally, the shopping center Expocity was opened in 2015 right next to the park. Here, you can enjoy yourself all day long with your family.

For details on a map of Expo ’70 Commemorative Park and how to access the park, please check the official website.

Expo ’70 Commemorative Park
Address: Osaka, Suita, Senribanpakukoen 1-1 Google Map
Access: 4 minute walk from Bampakukinenkoen Station

15. CUPNOODLES Museum Osaka Ikeda: Create Your Own Cup Noodles

CUPNOODLES

Photo courtesy of NISSIN FOODS HOLDINGS CO., LTD.

Did you know that instant ramen, prepared by just pouring hot water, was actually created in Osaka?

Momofuku Ando, the founder of Nissin Foods, invented chicken ramen in Osaka, then created the cup noodles that we all know. At the CUPNOODLES Museum Osaka Ikeda, you can create your own original cup noodles (no need for a reservation).

CUPNOODLES Museum Osaka Ikeda
Address: Osaka, Masumicho, Ikeda 8-25 Google Map
Access: 6 minute walk from Ikeda Station

Enjoy Osaka to the Fullest!

Osaka is a city full of unique places so we hope this article helps you decide what to visit. Take your time to explore the city and make sure to have a chat with the locals if you can. The friendly people of Osaka are an important reason why the city is so special.

Main image courtesy of pixta

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.

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