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Japan's second-largest city and the economic center of the Kansai region, Osaka is an eclectic mix of historic and modern Japan. The bustling metropolis is dotted with age-old temples and beautiful castles that offer a glimpse into Japan's past. Vibrant entertainment and shopping opportunities mingle with serene parks, and Osaka's distinct character is made apparent in every aspect of the city, from the lively dialect of its outgoing people to the neon glow of its streets. Whether you're visiting for the delicious food that makes Osaka the "nation's kitchen" or looking to discover Japanese traditions, Osaka is full of amazing things to do and see.
Areas & Neighborhoods in Osaka
Osaka is a sprawling city of 19 million people, and its many neighborhoods cater to all walks of life, ranging from upscale shopping districts to pockets of sub-culture fashion and nostalgic nooks.
Also known as Umeda, the Kita ("North" in Japanese) district is one of Osaka's main city centers. The area is abundant with underground shopping arcades and high-end department stores, including the Grand Front Osaka shopping and dining complex. Visit Umeda Sky Building for views 567 feet (173 m) above the ground, and spend the evening in the Kitashinchi area, which is packed with bars and nightclubs.
The Minami ("South" in Japanese) area is one of Osaka's city centers and acts as the tourist hub of the city. Here you can find Dotonbori, a popular street lined with hundreds of neon lights and mechanized signs advertising delicious restaurants. Nearby are the Amerikamura shopping district, where you can find the latest trends in Japanese street fashion, and Nipponbashi, a buzzing area also known as Den Den Town that's full of electronics and otaku -oriented merchandise.
The relatively young Bay Area is home to popular attractions for international visitors and domestic travelers alike. In addition to the Universal Studios Japan theme park and spectacular Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, the area features in the tasty Naniwa Food Theme Park and Mount Tempozan, the smallest mountain in Japan.
This unique neighborhood was mostly developed before World War II, giving it a distinctly nostalgic feel. It's marked by Tsutenkaku Tower, which was originally modeled after the Eiffel Tower, and the Spa World complex, where you can enjoy both baths fed by natural hot springs on European- and Asian-themed floors. Shinsekai's most sumptuous attraction is its kushikatsu, deep-fried skewers of both savory and sweet foods.
Osaka's sights range from the ancient to the contemporary. The National Bunraku Theater acts as a gateway to the traditional performing arts of Japan, staging bunraku (puppet theater) shows throughout the year. For a look at the extent of Osaka's metropolis, visit the observation deck of Abeno Harukas, the tallest skyscraper in Japan at 984 feet (300 m). Ancient Osaka Castle, which dates back to 1583, is a beautifully preserved remnant of Japan's past, and is surrounded by a popular park where residents flock to view cherry blossoms in the spring.
In such a vibrant city, there's no shortage of experiences and adventures to be had. Plan for a day of fun with a visit to Universal Studios Japan, which is packed with thrilling roller coasters and child-friendly attractions themed after favorite films. For an educational experience, visit the interactive Osaka Science Museum, which also houses a planetarium, or the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, which features 15 exhibits representing different regions of the Pacific Rim. Immerse yourself in Japan's rich history with a visit to Shitennoji Temple, one of the oldest temples in Japan that dates back to 593, or by touring Osaka Castle and its sloping stone walls. Nature flourishes in the city as well—in the spring, visit Kema Sakuranomiya Park and stroll a riverside path lined with nearly 5,000 cherry trees, or head to the forested valley of Minoo Park in autumn to see the brilliant colors of fall away from the city's buzz. Treat your tastebuds while in Osaka, which is famous for its regional foods such as takoyaki octopus balls and savory okonomiyaki pancakes. Explore Dotonbori, whose main thoroughfare and side streets are packed with eateries, or find something delicious without going far in Osaka Station City.
There's no need to run your credit card hot in Osaka. The following won't cost a penny.
Osaka Science and Technology Museum - Wander the halls and admire the captivating exhibits and unique collections at this museum.
Osaka-jō Hall - If you'd love to find out more about the artistic and cultural side of the area, make sure you stop by.
Ebisu Bridge - If you enjoy modern-day architecture and design, add this attraction to your itinerary.
Bank of Japan Osaka Branch Old Building - If you enjoy delving into the past, this is one attraction you ought to visit.
America Village - Sit for a while in this buzzing place and imagine what life would be like as a local.
Osaka Public Nakanoshima Library - Set aside some time to explore this site of local importance.
Tsuyunoten Shrine - Enjoy some quiet reflection and find out a thing or two about this site's religious significance.
Mount Tempozan - Get away from the busy city life and immerse yourself in Mother Nature at this breathtaking spot.
Nakanoshima Park - Find your green thumb and be wowed by the beautiful and diverse plants on show.
Frequently Asked Questions
What to do in Osaka on a sunny day?
If you're after a bit of fun under the sun, you'll be interested in these outdoor experiences:
What to do in Osaka on a rainy day?
Throw yourself into a few of these inviting indoor activities and turn a dreary, rainy day into something unforgettable:
What is Osaka famous for?
Your days will be full with all of these renowned attractions to cross off your to-do list:
- Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
- Osaka Castle
- Osaka Science Museum
- Osaka Takoyaki Museum
What should I not miss in Osaka?
You'll want to put these attractions high on your must-see list to make the most of your visit:
- Universal Studios Japan
- Tsutenkaku Tower
- Umeda Sky Building
- Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
Are there cheap things to do in Osaka?
You'll find loads of fun experiences here that are just the ticket if you're traveling on a tight budget:
What can you do in Osaka for free?
Your escape to Osaka won't cost a fortune with free attractions like these on offer:
- Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade
- Shitennoji Temple
- Mint Museum