Osaka is known for its food and the local culture, but there are also many other things to see and do. From ancient temples to museums, there is something for everyone.
One of the best things to do in Osaka is to take in a traditional kabuki theatre show. They are popular around Japan and are considered to be a true symbol of Japanese culture.
Osaka Castle is a famous landmark in the city and one of its most popular attractions. It was built in the 16th century under the rule of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, a powerful feudal lord.
He unified rival clans into one and built Osaka Castle to celebrate the feat. It was a massive structure and adorned with gold and other precious metals.
Umeda Sky Building
One of Osaka’s most iconic landmarks is the Umeda Sky Building. Designed by Japanese architect Hiroshi Hara, this skyscraper is 173 meters tall and consists of two towers connected at the top with an open-air observation deck called The Floating Garden Observatory.
It was completed in 1993, toward the end of Japan’s economic bubble. However, it’s still one of the city’s top tourist attractions.
Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street
Unlike the ultra-modern malls of Namba and Umeda, Tenjinbashi-suji Shopping Street aims to keep things simple. Shoppers are rewarded with a genuine experience of the city’s local culture, as well as a glimpse into the lives of Osaka’s long-time residents.
A 2.6km-long shopping arcade that takes about 40 minutes to walk its length, Tenjinbashi-suji spans Tenjinbashi 1-chome to 6-chome and features approx. 800 stores.
The Ohatsu Tenjin Shrine, formerly known as Tsuyunoten Shrine, is one of the most famous shrines in Japan. It became famous after a tragedy in 1703 when two young lovers, Tokubei and Ohatsu, committed suicide.
The story of this tragedy is still popular in modern Japanese culture and is often adapted into a variety of movies, TV shows, and stage plays. During the Valentine’s Day season, many couples make their way to this Osaka shrine to pray for love and happiness.
Osaka Tower of the Sun
Osaka Tower of the Sun is an unusual art structure that was built for Expo ’70. It is located in the Expo Commemorative Park in Suita City, Osaka Prefecture.
The tower was designed by Japanese artist Taro Okamoto to represent the past, present, and future in one fluid construction. The top face, or Golden Mask, with eyes that are light-up at night, represents the future; a segmented face jutting out of its “chest” is the present; and a black face on the back is the sun of the past.
Shinsaibashi Shopping District
Shinsaibashi is one of Osaka’s premier shopping districts and a must-visit for anyone interested in fashion. This long, 600-meter-long arcade is filled with trendy boutiques and retail chains.
You’ll find all kinds of Japanese stores, as well as Western favourites like UK’s eco-friendly Lush and The Body Shop. You’ll also find tax-free drugstores and dozens of restaurants and cafes tucked away in the streets.
The area is also home to Osaka’s quintessential shotengai (covered shopping arcade). This is one of the most popular in Japan, so be sure to spend some time here!
The largest aquarium in Japan, Osaka Aquarium is home to a number of unique marine species not found in other aquariums. This includes whale sharks and manta rays.
The most popular attraction is the Pacific Ocean zone, where a massive tank holds over 5,400 tons of water and houses a variety of creatures including whale sharks.
Other highlights include the Japan Forest and Aleutian Islands zones. The Antarctica zone is an interesting recreation of ice and chilly ocean water, while the Tasman Sea area features Pacific white-side dolphins.
Dotonbori Ferris Wheel
Osaka is known for its bright yellow oblong Ferris wheel that stands proudly along the Dotonbori River. It has been out of commission for the past nine years but it will finally spin again this January.
The wheel was built into the facade of Don Quijote – a 24 hour discount mall – in 2005 but was shut down in 2008 due to a mechanical fault.
The new wheel, renamed the Ebisu Tower in honor of the god figure that appears on the wheel, has been revamped to be more inviting for visitors. It has a newly-built waiting area and houses Japanese souvenirs.