6 Must-See Highlights in Osaka
Osaka is a thriving modern city that remains rich with Japanese history and culture! The port city and former capital has remained one of the economic and cultural meccas of Japan for centuries. In fact, only Tokyo boasts a larger metropolitan area population.
A booming skyline showcases Osaka’s technological innovations of the 21st century but beautiful restorations highlight the city’s passion for its cultural attractions. From world-class entertainment to iconic religious institutions, Osaka offers a diverse list of activities.
If you are stuck on where to begin, organize your trip with our six must-see highlights in Osaka!
- Wander the Grounds of Osaka Castle
Once the largest castle in the country, the iconic Osaka Castle is one of the most historic cultural attractions in Japan. The castle was built in the late 16th century and was meant to unite the country.
Over the centuries, internal conflicts and natural disasters devastated the structure. The castle was rebuilt on numerous occasions with the latest renovations occurring at the turn of the 21st century.
Today, the castle stands as a remarkable architectural gem that helps define the history of Osaka. The magnificent tower of the castle features a museum that highlights the most notable events to take place on the grounds. Climb to the top for breathtaking views of Osaka’s modern skyline.
The castle tower is guarded by impressive stone walls and is even surrounded by a moat. One of the most enchanting places on the grounds is Nishinomaru Garden with its picturesque foliage and beautiful cherry blossom trees.
- Astonishing Views from Above
Osaka has one of the most notable skylines in Japan and you have three incredible landmarks to enjoy the city’s modern flair.
Tsutenkaku is the most notable standing at 103-meters tall in the middle of the Shinsekai district. The original structure was built in 1912 and was modeled after the Eiffel Tower. Once the new Tsutenkaku Tower was complete in 1956, it once again became a defining symbol of Osaka.
Another brilliant piece of engineering genius is the Kobe Port Tower which stands at a height of 108-meters. The tower contains an observation deck and has a rotating restaurant for 360° views of the city.
Finally, the grandiose Umeda Sky Building connects two modern skyscrapers overlooking Osaka at 173-meters tall. The rooftop observatory provides another heart-racing view of Osaka from the sky and is completed with a beautiful garden. You can also learn about the history of Osaka inside the building and see remarkable photographs of residents in the early 20th century.
- Family Fun at Universal Studies Japan
Since its grand opening in 2001, Universal Studios Japan has grown to become one of Asia’s most popular amusement parks. In fact, the park was the first venture for Universal Studios on the continent and it has made a tremendous impact for residents and tourists from every corner of the globe.
A day at Universal Studios is the perfect outlet for families in Osaka with its wide-range of kid-friendly rides and shows. Many attractions feature famous blockbuster films like Spiderman and Back to the Future. In addition, you will find loveable characters from popular kids’ shows.
Thrill seekers will have plenty of opportunities to hop on more adventurous rides throughout the park. For those who wish to bypass the roller coasters, a shopping extravaganza awaits at Universal Citywalk Osaka.
From the bright lights of Hollywood to the family-oriented Universal Wonderland, there is a section of the park guaranteed to provide loads of fun!
- Explore the Deep Blue Sea Inside Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Osama Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of the world’s largest aquariums offering stellar views of marine wildlife from around the world.
The facility’s 15 tanks show off animals from beautiful locations like the Great Barrier Reef, Antarctica, the Aleutian Islands and more. Of course, the aquarium features numerous native species to the local waters of Japan.
The showcase of the aquarium is the Pacific Ocean section which is large enough to hold enormous whale sharks. Discover hundreds of other aquatic species as you descend to the base of the facility. Watch the fascinating habits of each marine animal as they wander around the spectacularly designed versions of their natural habitat
This unforgettable experience will include sightings of sea lions, jellyfish, dolphins, penguins and other fantastic creatures!
- Street Food Adventure at Kuromon Market
If you are craving a bite to eat, take a stroll through this bustling market offering delicious culinary treats. Browse through the market’s collection of over 100 stalls that sell everything from fish to sweets.
Thousands of people visit the covered market every day and the energetic environment can become rather hectic. It is important to pay close attention to ensure you do not get lost within the crowd. Once you find a snack that suites your cravings, step to the side as you wait for your food to be prepared.
Many local vendors craft their specialities with traditional methods and often make them right in front of you. This authenticity creates a special atmosphere when sampling the best foods Osaka has to offer.
- Admire the Beautiful Shitennō-ji Temple
No tour in Osaka is complete without a visit to the city’s most famous temple!
Although the temple has been rebuilt numerous times over the years, its earliest history can be traced to the 6th century. Shitennō-ji is often referred to as Japan’s first official temple and a key site to establishing Buddhism within the country.
Prince ShōtokuTaishi, the founder of the temple, established the religious site in honor of the four kings of Buddhism that ward off evil spirits.
One of the entrances to the grounds is guarded by a mesmerizing stone torii gate believed to be among the oldest in Japan. The primary grounds, referred to as the garan, are highlighted by the illustrious five-story pagoda, the Golden Pavilion (Kondō) and the Lecture Hall (Kōdō).
Nearby, there is an enchanting garden that offers a scenic place to enjoy the serenity of the complex. The temple hosts numerous religious events and is the site of a monthly flea market.