explore Osaka, Japan

What to see in Osaka, Japan

  • Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum. Tu-Su 11:00-18:00. A rather small museum in Nanba dedicated to ukiyoe, Japanese woodblock prints. The interior of the museum looks a bit like an adobe house. It may be most interesting to someone already familiar with the art, as the information inside mostly Japanese only.
  • Maritime Museum, 2-5-20, Nanko-kita, Suminoe-ku (15-min walk from Cosmosquare Station on the Chuo Line and New Tram Nanko Port Town Line). Tu-Su 10:00-17:00, closed around New Years. This attraction closed March 2013. Built in the sea near the shore (one has to walk through an undersea corridor from the ticket office area to the museum) around the real life size replica of a single mast ship from the Edo period. 
  • Osaka Castle(Osaka-jō), (The park can be accessed on a number of lines, but the castle is closest to Osaka-jō Koen station on the JR Osaka Loop Line.). 09:00-17:00 daily, closed around New Year’s. Osaka’s best known sight, although it’s a concrete reconstruction that pales in comparison with, say, Himeji. Think of it as a museum built in the shape of a castle, rather than as an actual historical castle. Still, it’s pretty enough from the outside, especially in the cherry blossom season when Osakans flock to the castle park to picnic and make merry. Naniwa Palace Site Park or Naniwanomiya can also be found south to Osaka Castle Park (although it’s one of Japan‘s oldest habitats and palace sites, today it’s little more than an empty grass field where the outlines of Naniwa’s palace foundations from around 643 AD have been partly recreated in concrete). The grounds are free, and you pay for the castle, children free.
  • Osaka Museum of History, 1-32 Otemae 4-Chome Chuo-ku (5-min walk from subway Tanimachi 4-chome Stn; also accessible via Osaka Castle or from JR Osaka-jō Station). M-Th 09:30-17:00, F 09:30-20:00, closed Tu, or W if Tu is a holiday. An ideal place to learn all about of Osaka’s history. Enjoyable view over Osaka Castle and the OBP skyscrapers.
  • Peace Osaka. Tu-Su 09:30-17:00. A museum dedicated to the promotion of peace through displays of war. Because it is an Osaka museum, it features the effects of the bombings on Osaka in WWII. The former exhibits atrocities committed by Japan in World War 2 are unfortunately not on display anymore. Exhibits have English explanations.
  • Shitennōji Temple, 1-1-18 Shitennōji Tennōji-ku (5 min. walk from Shitennōji-mae-Yuhiga-oka subway stop, or 15 min by walk north from Tennōji Station.). Originally built by Emperor Suiko in 593 AD. Although the current buildings are mostly post WWII reconstructions, the temple is a rare sample which conveys the continental style (notably the positioning of the individual buildings inside the complex) of 6th-7th century to present. 
  • Sumiyoshi Shrine, (Access is from the Nankai line station of the same name; local trains run from Namba station in central Osaka.). One of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines, with a history stretching back 1800 years. Its traditional architecture is unusual amongst Japan’s shrines, and its park-like surroundings with the sacred bridge arching over a tranquil pond make it a restful break from the busy environment of Osaka.   
  • Tsūtenkaku. While the original tower was built early 20th century, the current “newer” version is designed by the same Prof. Naitō, who also designed Tokyo Tower. This landmark built in the middle of the Shinsekai area is a symbol of reconstruction of the City of Osaka post WWII. There’s a “Sky Billiken” on the platform, definitely makes your wishes come true, once you rub his feet! And if you are lucky, your guide will have another job as a comedian.
  • The City Country Club, Hyatt Regency Osaka Hotel, 1-13-11 Nanko-Kita, Suminoe-Ku. A spa. 
  • The festival hallin Nakanoshima, near Umeda, and the symphony hall in Umeda host modern and classical recitals, while Umeda Koma in Umeda, and Shin-Kabukiza in Uehommachi host Enka For more independent or underground music, try Banana Hall in Umeda or Big Cat in Amerika-mura.
  • Kaiyukan, (Osakako, Chuo Line.). This is one of the world’s largest aquariums, with 11,000 tons of water and plenty of sharks (including a whale shark), dolphins, otters, seals, and other sea creatures. The largest tank, representing the Pacific Ocean with 5,400 tons is nothing but overwhelming. On the weekend, musicians and street performers offer additional entertainment to people outside the aquarium.
  • Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum, Ikeda (30 minutes from Umeda on the Hankyu line. There are signs in Katakana pointing the way from the south exit.),  W-M 9:30AM-4PM. Homage to the universal Cup Noodle, with more flavors than could fill supermarket aisle. It features among other things, a statue of Momofuku Ando, the creator, standing atop a giant Cup Noodle holding an instant ramen packet aloft. Tour free, audio guides free with deposit, but for hands-on ramen workshop you must pay.
  • National Bunraku Theater, (Nippombashi in Minami district). One of the last places in the world where bunraku, a form of intricate puppet theater from the Edo period, can be seen live. The large puppets, which require three operators each, are accompanied by traditional music and narration, and act out great Japanese plays of the 1600s and 1700s. Transcripts in Japanese and synopses in English are provided.  
  • The Osaka Pub Crawl, (Usually Shinsaibashi or Namba. Sip beers (or perhaps chug?) with both locals and fellow travelers while checking out some of Osaka’s favorite watering holes.
  • Osaka Shiki Musical Theater, (In the Herbis ENT, Umeda). Home of the Shiki Theatre Company. 
  • ROR Comedy, 2-16-13 Nishishinsaibashi, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0086 (5 minutes’ walk from Namba Station, exit 25). Every Friday & Saturday at 9pm. Osaka’s longest running English-language standup comedy show, with a focus on life in Japan. Winner of TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2015 & 2016.
  • Spa World, (Just near Tsutenkaku Tower in Shinsakai, accessible from JR Shin-Imamiya station). 24 hours. Gender-separated European and Asian themed spas and saunas as well as a pool for the family with slides and fun (don’t forget your swimming trunks). Open 24hrs so handy if stuck for accommodation or locked out of your hotel after a night on the town, just pay up, change into their cotton overalls and pass out on one of their comfy leather recliners with as many blankets as you like. Can try the outdoor onsen(try not to get burnt in the sun) or watch their huge TV in their bar with a cold beer. Gym also available to you as part of the entry free. “Rollover” for day passes is at 9 am on the dot. Watch out for special deals offered from time to time, often in Mar. Well worth spending an afternoon chilling out here. It is important to note that individuals with tattoos, permanent or temporary, are barred from using the facilities. 
  • Sumo Spring Grand Tournament, (Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium, a 10 minute walk from the Namba subway stop.). The Osaka Tournament of Japan’s national sport, sumo wrestling, is usually held mid-March annually at Osaka Prefectural Gymnasium. Check for schedules and ticket availabilities at the official Nihon Sumo Kyokai homepage.
  • Tenpozan Ferris Wheel, (Next to Kaiyukan in the Tempozan area.). 10AM-10PM. There is also the Suntory Museum, a mall and a port for sightseeing boats. The mall has a wide variety of shops that cater to fashionistas, otaku, tourists or dog lovers, variably. The mall itself doubles as a kind of amusement park, along with the Ferris wheel, and the best deal is to catch the ferry from there to Universal Studios across the water. Children up to 3 years old free.
  • Umeda Joypolis Sega, (next to Umeda (Osaka) Stn). 11:00-23:00. occupies the 8th and 9th floors of the Hep Fivebuilding with arcades and a Ferris wheel at the top. Local laws prohibit kids being here after dark even in the company of their parents, so if you want to take the kids along, plan on going early. The HEP5 Ferris is okay though. 
  • Universal Studios Japan, (At Universal-City Station on the JR Yumesaki Line, 10 minutes from Osaka.). Japan’s second-largest theme park. Expect much Japanese dubbing over your favorite characters and movies.
  • Zepp Osaka, Nanko Kita 1-18-31, Suminoe-ku (Near Cosmo-squair Station.). A POP club  
  • Its location makes Osaka a perfect basefor doing one-day trips to nearby cities like Kyoto (30 minutes), Kobe (20 minutes), and Nara (40 minutes) or Himeji (1 hour).
  • The Expo Parkin Suita, the huge commemorial park of the Japan World Expo ’70, with its interesting Japanese Garden and Museum of National Ethnology. It’s a very large park, and a good place for a picnic.
  • Hirakata – Home to the child-friendly Hirakata Park and Kansai Gaidai University.
  • Church of Light, one of the masterpiece architecture by Tadao Ando.
  • Minō, a popular maple watching spot in autumn and nature escape all year round. From Hankyu Umeda station take the train to Minō station. It is a pleasant walk to the waterfall (~30 minutes one way) through shady forest, with wild monkeys and deer. Try the local Minoh beer or maple leaves in sweet tempura batter.
  • The temples and lush greenery of Mount Koya, 90 minutes away by train, are an entirely different world and the perfect getaway when all the concrete starts to get to you.
  • Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, the world’s longest single-span suspension bridge is located near Kobe, about 40 minutes away by train.
  • Tokimeki Beachis a good get away if you want to spend the day at the seaside. Take the Nankai line from Namba station to Tannowa Station. The trip takes about 45 minutes. The bag and shower service closes at 5 p.m.