It is the capital of Western Japan, third largest city and a popular tourist destination. If Tokyo is the city of Samurai’s, then Osaka is city of merchant class. It is regarded to be the most laid back cities of Japan, and is known for its warm hospitality. Touring Osaka means you’ll get ample opportunity to immerse in local culture. The food scene here is terrific. The unofficial slogan of the city is kuidaore, which translates into ‘eat until you drop’. With museums, galleries, and amusement parks spread across, it qualifies well for all things touristy. The city dazzles at night with all those neon lights, and is a great destination for shopping with plethora of markets. Blessed with network of canals, the city is also known as ‘Venice of the East’. Here are top things to do in Osaka.
Osaka Castle – Built in the 16th century by 100,000 workers, it is one of most beautiful castles of Japan surrounded by leafy garden and moat. It becomes spectacular in spring with cherry blossoms. Inside castle you’ll find collection of art, armour, and artefacts. On 8th floor is an observation deck.
Universal Studios, Japan – It is the most visited theme park in Japan, with 9 zones, New York, San Francisco, Jurassic Park, Waterworld, Amity Village, Universal Wonderland, Minion Park and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.You’ll also find local characters, and lots of merchandise to buy.
Kaiyukan Aquarium – It is one of largest aquariums in world housing 30000 marine lives spread on eight floors and 15 different exhibits. Here you will find whale sharks, otters, dolphins, turtles, penguins, sea lions, sea horses, manta rays and more. They live here in their natural like habitat.
Umeda Sky Building – A fine example of modern architecture, they are twin towers connected together with a floating garden on top.360 degreeviews from top are breath taking. Underground there is food alley lined with restaurants and market with drop back resembling 20th century Osaka.
Shitennoji Temple – It is one of Japan’s oldest Buddhists temple built in 6th century. Shinto shrine gate of temple is one of its kind and oldest. Must see in temple are Golden Pavilion (Kondō), Lecture Hall (Kōdō), and Gokuraku-jodo Garden. The complex also has a historic pharmacy, and hospital.
Dotonbori – It’s the most touristy spot of city. Named after Dotonbori canal flowing through which also offers boat rides, is lined with restaurants, clubs, and bars. It is studded with plethora of neon lights and animatronic signs, with Glico running man and moving gigantic crab to watch out for.
Tempozan Ferris wheel – It is one of most iconic spots of city located on the bay side. It is 100 meter in diameter, and one ride gives spectacular views of Osaka city, Mt Ikoma, Akashi Kaikyo Bridge, Kansai Airport and Rokko Mountain. Wheel is also studded with LED lights and at night it dazzles.
Local Food – Osaka is also known by its nickname ‘Tenka no Daidokori’ which means ‘The nation’s kitchen’. Must try food in here are Takoyaki (Octopus Balls), Okonomiyaki (Japanese savorypanckes), Ikayaki (squid pancake), andKushi Katsu (deep-fried skewered meat and vegetables).
Tsutenkaku – It is one of most symbolic spots of city. Built in early 20th century it was destroyed in WW2 but rebuilt again. It is often compared with Eiffel tower for its resemblance in structure. IT has observation deck on fifth floor with views of city’s urban skyline and shrine of God of Happiness.
Tower of the Sun – It was built for the Osaka Expo 1970, by famous Japanese artist Taro Okamoto in the Osaka Expo Park. The 70 meter tall tower has a creature with three faces pointing to different directions. It has now become the symbol of expo exhibiting the energy and optimism of it.
O-hatsu Tenjin – This 1300 year old shrine is built after Japan’s best known eternal love tale (true one). A couple O-hatsu (sex worker) andTrokubei (A merchant’s apprentice) committed suicide to live happily ever after in heaven. Couples visit this place for strong relationships and happy endings.
National Museum of Ethnology – This museum exhibits Japanese ethnology along with world’s culture. In here you’ll find ceramics, costumes, masks, and potteries, along with Ghanaian barbershop signboards, Bollywood film posters and room with global street performances via touch panel.
Instant Ramen Museum – As by the name, this museum is dedicated to Instant Ramen. It features a statue of Andō Momofuku the inventor of Instant Ramen, exhibits of history of noodles, and its packaging. You can also create your own custom noodle and take it away as part of work shop.
Shinsaibashi – It is the best place to go for shopping in the city. This 600 meter arcade consists of many shopping malls and boutiques. It is a great place to shop for souvenirs, handicrafts, clothes, and you’ll also spot locals buying house hold items. It also has restaurants and cafes for quick bites.
Minoo National Park – It is well within a quick train ride from the city. Must visit in here is the park’s main waterfall which is great escape from urbanism. You will find traditional buildings and temples alongside the scenic river. Must try in here is to eat the fried red maple leaf sold by many vendors.
Drive it like you stole it!