Saturday, May 19, 2012

What to do in Osaka

Things to do in Osaka

For first-timers, you may be asking 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.

Being the next most visited city after Tokyo; Osaka definitely lives up to having everything in a more compact area.

Over the years, I have personally visited Osaka numerous times, and now able to share with you the many things that you can do in Osaka.

What to do in Osaka?

Osaka Castle Photo
Osaka Castle
1. 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 meters or about 15 acres. The 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, and opening hours are from 9.00 am to 5.00pm. The best time to view the Cherry Blossoms in Osaka is between the 1st week and 2nd week of April.
Osaka Tsutenkaku Tower
Tsutenkaku Tower in Osaka
2. Tsutenkaku Tower

This area is another popular place where visitors will surely satisfy themselves with the many choices of famous Japanese street food like Tako-yaki. 

Apart from going up the 100 year old Tsutenkaku Tower, which is 103 meters high, there are many shops, restaurants, and hawkers dotted around the tower. 

On the fifth-floor observation deck is a special area dedicated to Billiken, the God of Happiness or "things as they ought to be." 

Billiken is 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. The entrance fee is ¥600 per adult.

Umeda Sky Garden at Night
View of Osaka from Umeda Sky Garden at night
3. Umeda  Sky Garden

Known also as the Hanging Sky Garden at a height of 173m, this building consists of two 40-story towers that connect at their two uppermost stories. 

The towers are connected with bridges and an escalator crossing the wide atrium-like space in the center. 

A couple or lovers areas that come filled with locks are also found up the Umeda Sky Tower and on a clear day, you can see all of Osaka city from up here. 

For souvenir hunters, there is an interesting gift shop just before going up. The entrance fees are ¥700 per person. 

Osaka Hankai Tram
Hankai Tram in Osaka

4. Take the Hankai Tram Railway

Located nearby the Tsutenkaku Tower, the Hankai Tram is an antique tram service that is still running after decades in service. This is also a very unique and enjoyable way to experience the history of Osaka. 

Along with the lines are many interesting temples and shrines, as well as many places famous for their depiction in Noh and Kabuki dramas. 

The Hankai Tram passes Tezukayama and arrives at Sumiyoshitaisha Grand Shrine, one of Osaka’s finest shrines. 

This one-car train is small, quaint and somewhat nostalgic, which brings you back to the early days of Osaka. A minimal fee applies to ride the trams here.
Shinsaibashi Osaka
Glico Man neon sign in Osaka

5. Visit 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 nearby 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 Osaka
Dontonburi Octopus

6. Explore Dontonburi

Just walk across Shinsaibashi, and you will arrive at Dotonburi, which is one of the popular food and shopping areas of Osaka. 

Almost anyone that visits Osaka will surely make their way here and you can 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 apart from the unique 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. The best time to visit is in the evenings.
Universal Studio Japan
Universal Studio Japan
7. Visit Universal Studios Japan

The most popular all-round entertainment place in Osaka is not other than the Universal Studios Japan or simply called USJ.

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 suit all kinds of ages. Universal City Walk is another place where you can also explore after the park. Weekends tend to get really crowded too. 

8. Visit the Osaka Aquarium

Located just nearby Universal Studios Japan, it is accessible via a riverboat service or you can take a train there. 

If you love aquariums and the underwater world, 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 massive whale shark, manta rays, and many other unique sea fishes. 

The Osaka Aquarium is a lovely place for both families and adult travelers, and usually, when you visit Universal Studios Japan, this will be the next destination. 
Namba Station Osaka
Namba Station, Osaka
9. Explore Namba

Namba is regarded as the center of Osaka where many of the other popular districts meet. Some may even term this place as a business or connecting area.

At Namba, you will find most of the entertainment, karaokes, hotels, bars, restaurants, arcades, pachinko parlors, shopping arcades, and department stores. 

One notable place will be the Namba Station where almost all the Japanese train lines stop at, which is where you mal also be stopping.

Osaka Rinku Premium Outlets
Rinku Premium Outlets in Osaka, Japan
10. Shop at the Rinku Premium Outlets

Truly a shoppers paradise, Rinku Premium Outlet is located just one stop before the Osaka 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. 

Over here, you can easily spend a good hour or two checking out all the factory outlets that offer great discounts. 

Conclusion

There you go, my personal list of 10 things to do in Osaka for the first time traveler heading to this part of Japan. 
On all of my trips to Osaka, I flew with AirAsiaX. Just so you know, the airline 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 KLIA2 in Sepang, Malaysia. I hope this guide gives you a rough idea of what to do in Osaka.

5 comments:

David Jr said...

Kiei, I should have published this last week. I had it done and had to go off on a trip hence I published it later. Anyway, enjoy Tokyo!

Anonymous said...

Should I stay in Umeda or Nanba?

David Jr said...

I think Nanba is better.

risya said...

Hi David, im risya from penang! Plan to go to osaka earlier sept with my husband. Plan to stay in namba(but not yet bok hehehe) ur post really helpful... But I need to know where to go first? Will be there 6d5n. Is it enough time for me to go to kyoto?

David Jr said...

Super late reply, but I hope you had a great time in Osaka. Anyway, 6/5 is just nice for Osaka and for Kyoto, you need a maximum of 2/1 there. Provided you want to see a few temples. If you want to see many temples, best to spend at least 3 days in Ktoyo.