What To Do In Osaka
What to do in Osaka
Osaka is a crazy city and has a lot going on. The city prides itself on being different, and can be tough to navigate for even the most veteran of travelers. Even the transportation systems that run throughout the city are different than the typical JR transports running in other cities. Still though the city has a lot to offer, you just need to have a plan before going. Take some time before you leave, make a list of what to do in Osaka, and start exploring. Fortunately, Travel Panda is here for you, and has taken the time to list out the best attractions Osaka has to offer.
What To Do In Osaka
What To Do In Osaka: Historic Sites
The city of Osaka has been one of Japan’s most influential cities for ages and through time has racked up a great deal of important historical attractions that should not be missed while in the city. Of course everyone knows about the famous Osaka Castle, but the city also contains a great deal of ancient temples and shrines that are worth a look as well. Be sure to walk through history and enjoy the many historical sites of Osaka.
One of our “Must See Castles of Japan” and “Best of Kansai,” Osaka Castle is truly a masterpiece of Japanese castle architecture and a landmark worth seeing while in the city. The castle may have been torn down after the Meiji Restoration, but it has since been rebuilt and renovated into one of the area’s most important museums. The castle grounds are expansive to say the least, and offer spectacular views of moats, castle walls, and one of the best city parks in all of Osaka.
Its often believed that if you’ve seen one shrine in Asia, you’ve seen them all. Sumiyoshi Taisha proves that belief dead wrong. The shrine was built in the 3rd century, before the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, and was built free of other religious influence. This means that the architecture was absolutely unique, making Sumiyoshi Taisha not only one of the oldest shrines in all of Japan, but also one of the most interesting to visit. The shrine has several distinct characteristics that make it different than other shrines including its straight edge roofs. Sumiyoshi Taisha is one of the most visited shrines in Japan during the Hatsumode (first visit of the new year festival) and another great addition to your list of what to do in Osaka.
The Shitennoji Temple was built by the government in 593 making it one of the oldest temples in Japan as well as the first temple to be built by the state. The temple has been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times, but each time was rebuilt to resemble the 6th century architecture. What makes the temple truly something worth visiting is the nearby Gokuraku-jodo Gardens. The gardens are exquisite and are especially popular during cherry blossom season. The outer temple is free, but you will have to pay 300 yen each to visit the garden and the temple’s inner area.
What To Do In Osaka
What To Do In Osaka: Modern Sites
If the historical attractions are not enough for your time in Osaka, the city hosts a multitude of fantastic modern attractions that will be sure to keep you busy. The city is known for its massive towers, spectacular theme parks, and of course several interesting museums that will be great fun for all ages. After a quick run through our list of modern attractions, it won’t be too difficult to figure out what to do in Osaka.
One of our picks for “Best of Kansai,” Umeda Sky Building offers one of the finest city views in all of Japan. The building is beautifully designed and includes a water fountain, some escalators that connect the towers, as well as an outside observation deck. The view is stunning both day and night, but we prefer the night view of Osaka. Umeda Sky Building is a bit pricy and out of the way, but the views are absolutely worth it.
U.S.J., or Universal Studios Japan, is the second most popular amusement park in all of Japan and one of Osaka’s biggest attractions. The park currently has 8 sections to enjoy including: Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Lagoon, Waterworld, Amity Village and Universal Wonderland, but will soon be adding a Harry Potter attraction in 2014. The park is fun for all ages, but a good deal of the rides are getting a bit dated. Still the roller coasters, simulators, and parades pack an exciting punch and make the park a must see while in Osaka.
Namba is one of the most recognizable landmarks in all of Osaka and is a district commonly seen in movies as well as TV shows. The districts bright lights and lively night life make Namba a place you will not want to miss. One of its most famous features is the Dotonburi Glico Man which draws in tourists from all over the world. The area is also included in our list of the “Best of Kansai.”
Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the world’s largest public aquariums and holds 27 tanks with nearly 11,000 tons of water. The aquarium contains over 470 species with over 29,000 animals. Kaiyukan has two themes running through the aquarium, “Ring of Fire” and “Ring of Life” that exhibit fish and animals to represent their respective areas. Outside the aquarium you can find one of the world’s largest Ferris wheels. The aquarium is a great addition to anyone’s stay in the city, and definitely should be included on our list of “What to do in Osaka.”
Near the aquarium you can find a rather large Ferris wheel that has become something of an icon for the city of Osaka. The Ferris wheel was the world’s largest between the years of 1997-1999 until a larger one was built in Yokohama, Japan. The Ferris wheel is 100 meters in diameter and reaches just over 112 meters high. A ride on this Ferris wheel will run you 700 yen, but will also give you some of the best views of the city. Well worth it, especially if the weather is nice.
Instant Ramen Museum
When you think of great inventions throughout human existence, what comes to mind? The wheel? The light bulb? The internet? What about instant ramen? Very few of us would have made it through those late nights with out an instant meal like ramen in our cupboards, and to top it all off, you just can’t beat the price. Sure you have appreciated its taste and price, but have you ever wondered about its origins? Well at Osaka’s Instant Ramen Museum, you can learn all about ramen and even make your own. It is a pretty good deal and surly something worth checking out.
National Museum of Art
The National Museum of Art, located in central Osaka at Nakanoshima Island, contains two underground floors that display spectacular exhibits of contemporary art. The art on display contains both foreign and domestic pieces and will surly be hours of good museum fun. The building itself is quite interesting and designed to resemble the growth and shape of bamboo. If you are a fan of art make sure to include this on your list of what to do in Osaka.
What To Do In Osaka
What To Do In Osaka: Food
One of Osaka’s largest claim’s to fame is its food. The city is known for its infamous food war with Hiroshima as to which city can claim to have real Okonomiyaki. Osaka also is home to one of Japan’s most famous street food, Takoyaki, which is now gaining international popularity. If you like trying new foods, or just going out for nice dinners, this city is for you.
Okonomiyaki is one of the most popular and varying regional dishes in Japan. This pancake like dish has two major styles one of which can be found in Hiroshima, the other here in Osaka. Osaka style consist of shredded cabbage, a flour based batter, an okonomiyaki sauce, dried bonito, and any other ingredients you would like to add. These add ons usually include meat, cheese, or any other ingredients that particular restaurant will add. The okonomiyaki is then served on grill and usually topped with mayonnaise (but you can get it without). The dish is often translated as “Just how you like it pancake” and can really include whatever you want. We highly recommend trying it while in Osaka.
One of Osaka’s most popular street foods, Tako Yaki is a must have while in Osaka. Tako Yaki literally means “grilled octopus” but in reality what you are getting is a dozen or so of small balls of dough with grilled octopus meat tucked away inside. The balls are covered then in a Takoyaki sauce and usually topped with mayonnaise and bonito.
If you are not familiar with udon, the dish is a simple bowl of buckwheat noodles that are served in a bowl of hot soup. Udon is a usual favorite, but Kitsune Udon is one of Osaka’s many specialties. Kitsune Udon, literally means “fox udon,” is fairly normal udon with the addition of a large piece of deep fried tofu. The deep fried tofu is believed to be a favorite of the fox, and the Kitsune Udon is certainly a favorite of ours. Be sure to try it while in Osaka.
What To Do In Osaka
What To Do in Osaka: Side Trips
We get it. After spending a few days in Osaka, you may be ready to get out. The city is great and all, but you want to see more. Well have no fear, Osaka is positioned very nicely for several options for side trips. There is a lot to see in Japan, and you do not want to be tied down for too long in one city, so go out and explore.
Kyoto, one of Japan’s ancient capitals, is one of the most popular tourist cities in the entire country, and for good reason. The city holds so many historic attractions that it would take months to see it all. In fact there is so much to see and do in this city that it can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, Travel Panda has already provided a list of things to see while in Kyoto. Check out our page on “What to do in Kyoto” to start planning your trip now. The city is about an hour train ride from Osaka, and a fantastic addition to your trip.
The Himeji Castle was built in 1333, and is the largest and most visited castles in the entire country. The castle survived the Meiji Restoration, World War 2 bombings, earthquakes, and a host of other natural disasters that have hit the area. The castle has been placed on many lists, including ours, as the most spectacular castles in all of Japan, and is well deserving of this title. Unfortunately, the castle is under construction at the moment and will be until Spring of 2014. Even though the castle is under construction, you can still access majority of the grounds. In a little less than a year, the castle in all its polished splendor will be revealed and once again everyone will see what makes Himeji Castle at the top of our list of Japan’s Must See Castles.
Tour though Nara City
Having a brief stint as that nation’s capital, Nara City has a great deal of history and interesting sites to see, most of which can be seen on a one day walking tour. The city is beautiful, and is famous for its free roaming deer. There are several parks set up throughout the city that allow you to take in and just be with the deer. Nara also holds numerous UNESCO World Heritage Sites and world record holding attractions that are simply stunning and cannot be missed. While here be sure to check out Todai Ji, Kofuku Ji, and Kasuga Grand Shrine (all of which deserve to be on this list of the “Best of Kansai”).
Mt. Koyasan is a small temple town which contains over a hundred unique and ancient temples. The town is the center of Shingon Buddhism which is one of the country’s oldest and most historically significant religions. Koyasan is most famous for its ancient temples and its temple stays which allows you to experience the lifestyle of a monk. The town is also the starting and finishing point of the Shikoku Pilgrimage which makes one of the most important temple areas in all of Japan.
Kinosaki is a pleasant little onsen town found in Hyogo prefecture. The town has a fantastic traditional atmosphere to it and is the perfect get away from the bustling city of Osaka. If you are unfamiliar with onsen, onsen are simply hot springs where people go, bathe, and relax for hours. Onsen have a deep root inside Japanese culture, and if you are going for the cultural experiences, a quick dip in an onsen is a simply must try experience. People can be uneasy about bathing naked in front of others, but trust us, you will get over it quick enough. When in Rome right?
What To Do In Osaka