Osaka is the second-largest city in Japan, after Tokyo. It lies on the River Yodo Delta, on the south-side coast of Western Honshu where Osaka Bay flows into the Pacific Ocean.
Osaka’s origins can be traced back to the Japanese Empire’s legendary days, but it has grown into one of the most modern Japanese cities. Impressive infrastructure is tempered by countless cultural landmarks, which makes it a tourist’s haven.
This article shares five things to do in Osaka if you’re touring the city. When planning your trip, remember that Osaka has two major city centres, Kita (North) and Minami districts. Consider planning your trips during the off-season to make the most out of all its unique sights.
1. The Aquarium Kaiyukan
Osaka’s Aquarium Kaiyukan resembles a giant Lego building, and it will definitely be worth your time. It is one of the world’s biggest walk-through aquarium, which takes tourists down an exciting tour of several marine habitats.
You’ll see recreations of oceanic habitats such as Antarctica, the Pacific, Monterey Bay, and the Great Barrier Reef. The aquarium features more than 30,000 different species in over 15 exhibits. It includes a variety of Japanese marine life and freshwater species, and aquatic mammals and reptiles.
This impressive collection boasts 27 tanks – the biggest one is 9 meters deep and holds the larger marine animals such as sharks and manta rays. Relax as you take in the movements of fish through attractive exhibits as you listen to the lulling Japanese conversations around you.
Address: 1-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 552-0022
2. Minoo National Park
The Minoo National Park is located just 30 minutes from Hankyu Umeda station. Even though it’s technically not in Osaka, you’ll enjoy this chance to be away from the bustle of the city.
Walk along a quiet road to the park’s main waterfall as you think and take in the clean park air. It’s a great way to clear your head and wind down from all the activity during your brief holiday.
The main path from Minoo station is a peaceful walk through pathways lined with traditional Japanese temples and buildings. There’s a scenic river to complete this picture. Minoo is one of the lovelier places within Kansai, particularly in autumn. It is famous for its bright red maple trees which shed to create a picturesque landscape you’ll enjoy.
While you’re there, don’t forget to get a taste of the fried maple leaf delicacy, readily available among the roadside vendors. This is a speciality dish for this area, and you can go away having added “tree leaves” to your list of delicacies from Japan.
Address: 1-18 Minookōen, Minoo-shi, 562-0002, Japan
3. Hozenji Temple
The Hozenji Yokocho Buddhist temple is located in Minami District, Osaka. It isn’t as big as many of the other temples you’ll visit in Osaka, but it will stick in your memory.
You’ll find it smack in the middle of the crowded Namba, which will make the solitude you find in this temple even more precious. Hozenji remains a serene oasis within a neon jungle. The statue of Buddha kept in Hozenji is covered by a thick layer of moss. It is believed that this is due to the subsequent water splashes thrown in his direction and the constant prayers made to him.
Once you’re done with your tour, you can follow one of the alleyways surrounding the temple to take you back to older parts of Osaka. These parts feature cobblestone streets and entryways covered with Noren cloth, something you’ll remember for a long time to come. However, you can’t take children with you into the temple.
Address: 1 Chome-2-16 Nanba, Chūō-ku Ōsaka-shi, 542-0076, Japan
4. Osaka Shochikuza Theatre
Tachibana is a restaurant located on the second basement floor of the only Kabuki theatre in Osaka. Kabuki refers to a traditional drama in Japan that features highly stylized dance, mime, and song.
The Shochikuza theatre is also the only one that has a beer brewery on site. Non-teetotalers will appreciate the opportunity to taste Dotonbori, one of the first beers brewed in Osaka. The beer has been around for over twenty years, and you can find it on tap in the Tachibana restaurant.
Tachibana is also well known for its Tofu and seafood delicacies. Tofu and beer might sound strange to you, but for some reason, there, it works.
Address: 1-9-19, Dotonbori, Chuo-ku Osaka, 542-0071, Japan
5. Kitamura Restaurant
Sampling the local cuisine is a significant part of finding things to do in Osaka. You’ll experience exciting combinations you never thought worked together. You will also learn new ways of preparing some of the foods you’ve known all your life, and you can carry these lessons home with you.
One of the foods you must try is the Sukiyaki, which is a traditional Japanese stew-like meal that is cooked in a hot pot. Sukiyaki is a mixture of thinly-sliced meat and vegetables, together with other ingredients. It is simmered and cooked in a mix of mirin (sugary rice wine), soy sauce, and sugar.
The best place to try this is the Kitamura restaurant, which features sliding doors that leads you into a cosy, welcoming atmosphere. Sit down on a tatami mat table and watch the cooks prepare your Sukiyaki hot pot before your very eyes. Watching food preparation is a big part of the Japanese dining experience, and this will be no different.
Address: 1 Chome-16-27 Higashishinsaibashi, Chūō-ku Ōsaka-shi, 542-0083, Japan
Things to Do in Osaka – Conclusion
This is by no means an exhaustive list of things to do in Osaka, but these are our top five choices for the best experience. If you have time and depending on your interests, you might like to visit the Osaka Castle, the Shitennoji Buddhist temple which dates back to 59AD and the Dotonbori Bridge.
There are many other local delicacies you might want to try, such as the kushikatsu (deep-fried vegetables and skewered meat), okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes), and takoyaki (savoury ball-shaped cakes).
Summer and spring seasons are the busiest in Osaka, but if you come at any other time of the year, you’ll enjoy some unique sights and experiences. Winter features delightful displays of colourful lights and illuminations.
If you make your trip between November and January, you might catch the Festival of Lights and visit Osaka Castle while it’s full of Christmas lights. But whenever you come one thing is sure: you’re in for an experience you’ll never forget.
If you’re planning to visit Osaka, be sure to contact us today for bookings and the best deals.