Osaka is a world-class destination with many incredible museums and cultural institutions. It also has some impressive modern architecture.
The Umeda Sky Building is one of the most iconic structures in Osaka, and it offers breathtaking views over the city. Head up to the observation floor for a view that will blow your mind!
Located in the Sumiyoshi district, Sumiyoshi Toisha is Osaka’s main Shinto shrine. It is the head shrine of over 2,300 branch shrines throughout Japan and is known for its rites and festivals.
This large shrine enshrines three powerful Shinto deities: Sokotsutsu no Ono-mikoto, Nakatsutsu no Ono-mikoto and Uwatsutsu no Ono-mikoto. The spirit of Okinagatarashi-hime no Mikoto, the Empress Jingu, is also worshipped here.
It’s one of the oldest and most prestigious shrines in Osaka. For many centuries it was the chief Shinto shrine for the former Settsu Province and emperors despatched messengers to report major events to the kami here.
The main buildings at the shrine are distinguished by their simple straight-edged gable roofs and architectural features that predate more elaborate influences from the Asian mainland. These include two decorative poles called chigi that look like crossed swords in between the gable ends and three large blocks of wood designed to help hold the thatched roof in place.
Abeno Harukas is the tallest building in Japan – it towers over the city’s streets and houses a hotel, the largest department store, an art museum as well as an observation deck. This soaring skyscraper also boasts a three-level public observatory, offering unparalleled views of the surrounding city and beyond towards Kyoto, Nara and Kobe.
As a result, Abeno Harukas has become a popular tourist attraction for tourists and locals alike. You can find a variety of things to do here, from shopping at the department stores and museums, to eating and relaxing in one of the many restaurants.
The 16th floor is home to the Abeno Harukas Art Museum, which stages changing exhibitions of mainly Western and Buddhist art every few months. A garden terrace is located next to the museum and offers some green space to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or tea on a sunny day.
Namba Yasaka Shrine
A little-known gem that stands out among Osaka’s kaleidoscopic mix of traditional, retro, modern and futuristic, this secret shrine is a must for visitors to Namba. This surprisingly impressive establishment houses an enormous lion head-shaped building known as Ema-Den and is also famed for the stage it shelters inside its mouth!
The eye-popping lion’s face is believed to ward off evil spirits, and the wide-open mouth swallows up any negativity plaguing worshippers. As a result, it’s a popular destination for people hoping to bring good luck into their lives.
This incredible lion-shaped building is the first intangible folk cultural property to be designated by Osaka City and is a highlight of any visit. It’s also famous for its annual Tug-of-War ritual on the third Sunday of January, a celebration of Susanoo-no-Mikoto, the deity that defeated Yamato-no-Orochi and freed the Japanese people from hardships.
This is Osaka in a nutshell and is worth a quick detour when you’re in the neighborhood!
Hattori Ryokuchi Park
Located in the northern part of Osaka, Hattori Ryokuchi Park features a number of attractions that make it one of the top places to visit in the city. It boasts a variety of nature areas, including ponds and pine forests.
It also hosts the Open-Air Museum of Old Japanese Farmhouses, which is known for its impressive collection of rural architecture from across Japan. In this museum, you can see houses that were acquired from different parts of the country and removed from their original sites to be reconstructed.
The museum grounds are also home to a small cemetery where you can find stone tombs of various sizes. The style of these graves is very interesting as it dates back to the 12th century.
During the fall, many trees in this park color beautifully. The Trident maple on the museum grounds is particularly stunning, and Chinese sweetgum lining the main path turns warm orange hues.