What to do in Osaka? As Osaka is one of the must-visit places in Japan, there are many things to do here ranging from shopping, eating, sight-seeing and a very vibrant nightlife. Bring the next most visited city after Tokyo; Osaka definitely lives up to having everything in in a more compact area. I have personally visited Osaka twice in just under three months in 2011-2012 and now able to share with you the many things that you can do in Osaka.
- Osaka Castle. This is one of the most famous castles in Japan and built in the 16th century, it is in fact the most popular tourist attraction while visiting Osaka. The overall land area for this place is 16,000 square metres or about 15 acres. Best time to visit this place is during Spring and Summer when the landscape is covered with lush greenery and beautiful Sakura Flowers. A lot of Japanese history lies within this place and there is a charge to enter the main castle tower which is 600 Yen. Opening hours are 9am to 5pm. Best time to view Cherry Blossoms is between the 1st week and 2nd week of April.
Tsutenkaku Tower in Osaka
- Tsutenkaku Tower. Another popular place where the journey here will surely satisfy with many choices of famous Japanese street food like Tako-yaki. Apart from going up this 100 year old tower which is 103 meters high, there are many shops, restaurants and hawkers dotted around the tower. On the fifth floor observation deck is enshrined Billiken, the God of Happiness or "things as they ought to be." Billiken, a popular American charm doll that came to Japan in about 1910 and each year thousands of visitors place a coin in his donation box and rub the soles of his feet to make their wishes come true. Entrance fee is Y600/adult.
View of Osaka from Umeda Sky Garden at night
- Umeda Sky Garden. Known also as the Hanging Sky Garden at a height of 173m, it consists of two 40-story towers that connect at their two uppermost stories, with bridges and an escalator crossing the wide atrium-like space in the center. A couples or lovers ares with locks is also up there. On a clear day, you can see all of Osaka from up here. There is a gift shop just before going up too. Entrance fees is Y700/adult.
Hankai Tram in Osaka
- Osaka Tram, Hankai Railway. Located nearby the Tsutenkaku Tower, this antique tram service is still running after decades in service. They are also an enjoyable way to experience the history of Osaka. Along the lines are many interesting shrines, as well as many places famous for their depiction in Noh and Kabuki dramas. You’ll pass Tezukayama and arrive at Sumiyoshitaisha Grand Shrine, one of Osaka’s finest shrines. The one-car train is small, quaint and somewhat nostalgia-provoking. A minimal fee applies to ride the trams here.
Glico Man neon sign in Osaka
- Shinsaibashi. The most popular shopping district in Osaka, almost everyone who visits this city will surely head here for the vibrant shopping and entertainment. Shinsaibashi is also connected to many of the other areas by just a short walk. The famous American Village or Amerika-Mura is also near by here just like the popular Glico Man neon sign. The area is well known for designer goods, lifestyle boutiques and upmarket fashion stores. One of the best places to start exploring when you are in Osaka.
- Dontonburi. Opposite Shinsaibashi, this is also one of the food and shopping areas of Osaka.You will find a lot of restaurants, cafes, bars, karaokes and entertainment places around here. There is also the famous Glico Man neon sign by the river here. Giant Crabs, Blowfish, Cows and many other unique fixtures hang high up above the restaurants. another popular item seen is the Kuidaore Taro or Drum Playing Clown is also seen around here. Neon signs also light up the entire area too.
Universal Studio Japan
- Universal Studios Japan. The most popular all round entertainment place in Osaka, USJ is pure fun for the single, couple and family traveler. Located near the Osaka harbor, one can easily spend a minimum of half a day here but better to just make it a full day. The rides and shows are pretty amazing and suits all kinds of ages. Universal City Walk is another place where you can also explore after the park.
- Osaka Aquarium. Located just nearby Universal Studios Japan, it is accessible via a boat service or you can take a train there. If you love aquariums, the Osaka Aquarium is one of the best in the world to visit. They have a multi-level view of the super huge aquarium that houses a Whale Shark, Manta Ray and many other unique sea fishes. Lovely place for kids and adults too.
- Nanba. This place is regarded as the center of Osaka many of the other popular areas meet. At Nanba, you will find most of the entertainment, karaokes, hotels, bars, restaurants, arcades, pachinko parlors, shopping arcades and departments stores. One notable place will be the Nanba Station where almost all the the Japanese train lines stop at.
Rinku Factory Outlet in Osaka
- Rinku Premium Outlets. Truly a shoppers paradise, Rinku Premium Outlet is located just one stop before the Kansai Airport. Most travelers would head to the airport extra early, store their luggage and then take the free shuttle bus service or the subway train to Rinku for some last minute shopping. As what you can get here, you're in for a surprise if you like branded goods.
On my two trips to Osaka, I flew with AirAsiaX. Just so you know, AirAsia X flies to Osaka’s Kansai Airport four times a week which is on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Flights depart at 2.00pm on Wednesday only while it is at 8.20AM for the other three days from LCCT in Sepang, Malaysia. I hope this guide gives you a rough idea on what to do in Osaka.