Have an Unforgettable Osaka Vacation with These 10 Activities

Explore Japan’s foodie capital where you’ll find street markets, unique food experiences, and restaurants galore. 

Osaka is Japan’s third most populous city. Dubbed the Nation’s Kitchen, it is the birthplace of okonomiyaki and takoyaki, a couple of Japan’s most popular dishes. 

However, there is much more to this charming city than gastronomy. 

Discover the top 10 things to do in Osaka for an unforgettable vacation. 

  1. Dive into the Osaka Aquarium

Osaka’s Kaiyukan is the world’s largest and Japan’s most spectacular aquarium. Its 15 massive tanks recreate the Pacific Rim’s natural aquatic habitats, taking visitors on a virtual tour of the Pacific Ocean. 

Explore Japan Forest, Antarctica, and Pacific Ocean tanks and meet the resident whale sharks, the world’s largest fish species. That’s aside from the other resident sea creatures.

To enjoy the aquarium to the fullest, make sure to dedicate at least two and a half hours.

  1. Admire the Osaka Castle Upclose

The Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo in Japanese) is the power and fortune emblem of the famed feudal lord and samurai Hideyoshi Toyotomi, who began ordering the construction of the castle in 1583. The immensely famous landmark played a crucial role in Japan’s unification in the 16th century. 

When planning to visit the castle, make sure to leave enough room for a stroll down the massive park that surrounds Osaka-jo. This is also one of the city’s most popular cherry blossom viewing spots, so don’t miss it if you visit in March or April. 

  1. Ascend the Umeda Sky Building

A signature landmark of Osaka, the Umeda skyscraper can be seen from all over town. This Kita district high-rise comprises two towers that are connected by a floating garden of more than 560 feet aboveground.

Enjoy spectacular city views while appreciating the many plants and flowers. If you ever get hungry, you can treat yourself to delicious dumplings from Sangu, a Chinese restaurant on the 39th floor. And if you’re up for a drink with a view, there’s also a bar on the same floor.

  1. Ride the Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Looking for family things to do in Osaka? 

Take a spin on Osaka’s world-class Ferris wheel. Within walking distance of the Osakako subway station, Tempozan will take you 367 feet into the air for spectacular views of Mounts Ikoma and Rokko. 

And if you visit Aquarium Kaiyukan, you won’t help but notice Tempozan’s vibrant illumination when you leave.

  1. Explore the Sumiyoshi Shrine

The Sumiyoshi Taisha (or Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine) is among Japan’s oldest shrines. Dating back to the pre-Buddhist period of around the 3rd century, it’s completely free of influence from the Asian mainland. 

If you’ve visited other shrines in Japan, you’ll find it interesting that this one has the first three halls positioned as a straight line towards the west and the fourth standing beside the third. This arrangement is rarely seen in most other shrines of its kind. 

Enjoy walking across the streets and sanctuaries of the ultimate Sumiyoshi shrine, the head of more than 2,300 Sumiyoshi shrines across Japan. 

  1. Attend a Sumo Tournament

Osaka’s Minami district houses the EDION Arena where you can attend a truly unique cultural event that is sumo wrestling. 

March is the best month for seeing sumo matches in the city, but it can be a bit tricky for tourists to score tickets. In case you don’t get tickets, you’ll want to go directly to the arena on tournament day and ask for “tojitsuken” or “same-day tickets,” preferably on a weekday. 

The unforgettable cultural experience will be worth the hassle. 

  1. Shop Like a Local at the Kuromon Market

Kuromon Market, also known as Kuromon Ichiba, is one of the largest markets in Western Japan. With more than 180 stores and almost 200 years old, the locals also hail it as “Osaka’s Kitchen.” 

Don’t be surprised to see people crowd the 1900-feet market all day long. It’s where many Osaka residents buy their seafood and groceries, making it a perfect spot for tasting authentic street foods as well. 

One of the main attractions of this market for tourists is the fresh fish stores, many of which will serve you food to try on the spot!

  1. Eat till you Drop in Dotonbori

Dotonbori is to Osaka what Times Square is to New York. The touristy district is known for its billboards and neon light displays and scores of restaurants. 

There are various food crawling and sampling tours that can ensure you don’t leave without tasting the city’s famous specialties. 

The area, also known as the bright heart of Osaka, can be described with the phrase “kuidaore,” meaning “eat till you drop.” It’s definitely not a good idea to enter this area with a full stomach. 

  1. Visit the Temples

There are dozens of magnificent temples in Osaka, so it’s impossible to visit all of them in a short stay. However, make sure to stop by the Hozen-Ji on your way to Dotonbori. You’ll be taken aback by this tiny oasis of tranquility amid the city’s most vibrant district. 

You’ll also find the Namba Yasaka Shrine a bit further away, a mere 15-minute walk from the Namba subway station. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you’re greeted by the sight of a giant lion head that is almost 40 feet tall. 

Other temples that are worth a visit include the Tsuyunoten Shrine, Isshinji Temple, and Ikukunitama Shrine. 

  1. Reward Yourself with a Spa Treatment

When you’ve had enough of roaming the city and tasting the food, make sure to stop by Osaka’s Spa World for a recharge. This 24-hour facility offers a range of spas, pools, and saunas. 

However, sightseeing doesn’t have to stop here. 

You can swim in the onsens, which are the country’s popular hot springs, and appreciate beautiful views. And once you finish the swimming session, you can pick a more specific spa treatment or even stay overnight. 

More Reasons to Love Osaka

If you’re running out of things to do in Osaka, you should now have 10 new ideas. Foodies will love its endless supply of savory and affordable dishes on every corner, and walkers will be thrilled with the gorgeous parks surrounding the temples. 

There’s never a dull moment in this charming city that’s known for loads of nightlife and entertainment options. 

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Have an Unforgettable Osaka Vacation with These 10 Activities