Osaka is one of Japan’s most important cities, and has played the biggest role in the economic and political affairs of the Kansai region for several hundred years.
Back in the 1500s, it served as the location for legendary samurai warrior Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s castle. Today, it is a lively and bustling metropolis that has become one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations.
When To Go
- Springtime (March – May) is a great time to visit Osaka as it is when the cherry and plum blossoms appear, making the city look colourful and vibrant. Be ready for dense crowds at all blossom viewing sites, such as Nagai Park, Yodogawa Park and Osaka Castle Park.
- Even though the start of summer (June – August) is a rainy season, Osaka still remains a vibrant place to be as it holds a number of fun festivals, particularly the Tenjin Matsuri, which is highlighted by a river parade and fireworks display.
- During autumn (September – November), the city’s maple and gingko trees turn red, orange, and yellow and transform Osaka into a wonderland.
- In the winter (December – February), Christmas illuminations all over Osaka attract both local and foreign tourists.
Things To See
Visit the Osaka Castle
One of Japan’s most notable landmarks, the Osaka Castle is a 16th century structure built by iconic samurai, general, and warrior, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. It covers about six hectares of land, with several gates and landscaped gardens, and is currently open to the public as a museum.
Experience Universal Studios Osaka
Universal Studios Japan currently has 8 themed sections with many different rides and attractions, shows, restaurants and cafes. Enjoy a fun filled day that you won’t forget!
Go to the Osaka Aquarium
Situated by the bay, Osaka Aquarium, or Kaiyukan, is a large aquarium that showcases a diverse selection of marine life. It is home to 27 tanks that serve as the habitat of a whale shark, manta rays, seals, sea lions, penguins, iguanas, dolphins, jellyfish, turtles, lobsters and fish.
See Kuchu Teien Observatory
Also known as the Floating Garden Observatory, the Kuchu Teien Observatory in Osaka is one of the tallest modern buildings in the city that offers a 360-degree view of the surroundings. It has an open-air rooftop that offers an excellent spot for sunset viewing, and many shops and recreational facilities.
Visit temples and shrines
- Sumiyoshi Taisha – One of the oldest shrines in Japan, the Sumiyoshi Taisha was built in the 3rd century and features a distinct architectural style called the Sumiyoshi-zukuri, known for its straight roofs, entrances built under the gable, and fenced enclosure.
- Shitennoji Temple – A Buddhist temple founded in 593, Shitennoji is among the oldest temples in the country. It covers a spacious complex that consists of gardens, courtyards, shrines, a five-storey pagoda, and the Main Hall.
Osaka’s shopping scene is among the country’s best. It is home to many upscale and high-end malls and boutiques, shopping arcades, discount stores and thrift shops.
In the Umeda and Namba areas there lies a long, covered shopping street called Shinsaibashi Suji, which features various brand name stores and shops. It is 600 metres long and extends to Dotombori. From there, the shopping street continues further but is now called the Ebisubashi Suji.
Where To Explore
- Namba – Known for its vibrant atmosphere, Namba is a top entertainment district in Osaka. It is dubbed Osaka’s city centre in the south and boasts numerous shopping malls and stores, restaurants and dining establishments. It is where you can find Amerikamura, Den Den Town, Dotonbori, Shinsaibashi, and Namba Parks.
- Umeda – Known as Osaka’s city centre in the north, Umeda is a lively business district with abundant choices of hotels, restaurants, department stores and entertainment facilities. It is where the Grand Front Osaka, Umeda Sky Building, Kitashinchi District, and Hankyu Entertainment Park are located.
Travelling around the city of Osaka is quite easy as it is served by several JR West local train lines, different subway lines run by various private rail companies (Nankai, Hankyu, Keihan, Kintetsu, and Hanshin Railways), and city buses.