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Things to do in Osaka

Things to do in  Osaka

Welcome to Osaka

Packed with street food stalls, neon-fronted bars, and modern developments, Japan’s second city is a commercial hub whose streets come to life after dark. Either side of the Yodo River, ancient temples, museums, and Osaka Castle—one of Japan’s most visited attractions—stand testament to ancient Japanese tradition, while in the city center the America Mura and Dotombori neighborhoods thrum with modern vibrancy. A culinary tour is a must in Osaka and the city’s close proximity to Nara, Kyoto, and Kobe make it a convenient base from which to discover the diverse treasures of Japan.

Top 15 attractions in Osaka

#1
Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo)

Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo)

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Among the most famous castles in Japan, Osaka Castle (Osaka-jo) dates back to the 16th century, when it played a major role in unifying the nation. Today the reconstructed castle houses a museum filled with artifacts from the history of Japan and from the castle’s creator, Toyotomi Hideyoshi. The main tower provides a nice view over urban Osaka.More
#2
Dotonbori

Dotonbori

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Dotonbori (also called Dotombori) is a bustling nightlife district in Osaka’s Minami area. It stretches along the Dtomborigawa River, with a multitude of small restaurants, bars, and neon lights that come alive after nightfall. An entertainment neighborhood, Dotonbori is famous for its varied cuisine and huge animated signs.More
#3
Nara Park (Nara Koen)

Nara Park (Nara Koen)

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Located in the heart of Nara City, Nara Park (Nara Koen) is famous for the more than 1,000 semi-wild sika deer that roam its grounds. Spanning 1,631 acres (660 hectares), the scenic public park is also home to several popular attractions, including the Todai-ji Temple, the Isuien Garden, and the Nara National Museum.More
#4
Sumiyoshi-taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine)

Sumiyoshi-taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine)

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Built to protect fisherman and sailors, the 3rd-century Sumiyoshi-taisha (Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine) is Osaka’s most famous shrine. Renowned for its classic Japanese architecture and vivid red-and-white colour, the shrineMore
#5
Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan

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Universal Studios Japan—Asia’s first Universal Studios theme park—is second only to the Tokyo Disney Resort as Japan’s most visited amusement park. Beloved characters like Shrek, Hello Kitty, and Spiderman are in attendance, and a spectacular variety of rides, movie simulators, and parades keep all ages entertained.More
#6
Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (Cupnoodles Museum)

Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (Cupnoodles Museum)

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Learn all about the history and development of instant ramen noodles at the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum (Cup Noodles Museum Osaka Ikeda. Located in the birthplace of instant ramen, the popular museum features colorful displays, interactive exhibits, and allows visitors to make their own unique flavor of cup noodles.More
#7
Shitenno-ji Temple

Shitenno-ji Temple

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Built in the 6th century by Prince Shotoku—a cultural hero who helped to bring Buddhism to the country—Shitenno-ji is one of Japan’s oldest temples. The complex includes a multi-tiered tower, pagoda, lecture hall, and gate. Though most of the current structures are from the 1963 rebuilding, they still reflect the 6th century design.More
#8
Tsutenkaku Tower

Tsutenkaku Tower

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Kitschy and cute Tsutenkaku, Osaka’s answer to the Eiffel Tower, rises 338 feet (103 meters above the streets of Shin Sekai. The neon outlined building was the tallest in town when it was first built in 1912. An observation deck offers stellar nighttime views and the chance to see beloved Billiken, god of “things as they ought to be.”More
#9
Kuromon Ichiba Market

Kuromon Ichiba Market

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A large covered market selling fresh and cooked food, Kuromon Ichiba Market is nicknamed “Osaka’s kitchen,” because many chefs and home cooks come here for supplies. It has since branched out from purely seafood options, and is typically bustling with locals and visitors hoping to get an inside look at local ingredients and cuisine.More
#10
Himeji Castle (Himeji-Jo)

Himeji Castle (Himeji-Jo)

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If you only have time for one day trip from Kyoto or Osaka, make it Himeji Castle (Himeji-Jo), renowned as Japan’s most beautiful historic citadel. Also known as White Heron Castle, the UNESCO-listed hilltop structure was built in 1580 and features a five-story central tower with surrounding moats, walls, and pagodas.More
#11
Minami

Minami

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Minami (literally “South” is the go-to Osaka district if you want to get a taste of the city’s entertainment scene. With shopping, dining, and nightlife venues stretching from Semba to Namba Station, Minami is ever-popular with visitors and locals alike. More
#12
Tempozan Ferris Wheel

Tempozan Ferris Wheel

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Osaka’s Tempozan Ferris Wheel soars 369 feet (112 meters into the air—and with a diameter of 330 feet (100 meters—it’s one of the world's largest Ferris wheels. The wheel takes riders on a 15-minute-long journey through the sky, offering views of the city, bay, and mountains in the distance.More
#13
Shinsaibashi

Shinsaibashi

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A popular Osaka destination for shopping and entertainment for more than 350 years, Shinsaibashi is a 1,698-feet- (600-meter- long shopping arcade. Countless boutiques, specialty shops, department stores, cafes, and restaurants line either side of the strip, making it is a great place to both shop and people-watch.More
#14
Hozenji Yokocho

Hozenji Yokocho

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The narrow alleys, paper lanterns, and traditional tea houses of Hozenji Yokocho are a far cry from the neon lights and pulsing atmosphere of Dotonbori. The historic alley’s most famous attraction is the 17th-century Hozenji Temple, where devotees come to splash water over a moss-covered statue of the Buddha.More
#15
Abeno Harukas (Osaka Harukas)

Abeno Harukas (Osaka Harukas)

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At 984 feet (300 meters) tall, Abeno Harukas (Osaka Harukas) takes the coveted superlative of Japan's highest skyscraper, narrowly rising above the former title holder, the Yokohama Landmark Tower. Part of the sprawling Abenobashi Terminal Building, it stands atop the Kintetsu Osaka Abenobashi Station and houses a department store, art museum, five-star hotel, and observation deck.More

Trip ideas

Top Temples and Shrines in Osaka

Top Temples and Shrines in Osaka

Top activities in Osaka

Deep Backstreet Osaka Tours

Deep Backstreet Osaka Tours

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Day Trip by Bus to Kyoto from Osaka/Kyoto
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Osaka Market Food Tour

Osaka Market Food Tour

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Deep Osaka All-Inclusive Nighttime Foodie Cultural Experience

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Deep Osaka All-Inclusive Nighttime Foodie Cultural Experience

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Osaka Backstreet Food Tour
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Osaka Backstreet Food Tour

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Eat, Drink, Cycle: Osaka Food and Bike Tour
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1-Day Hiroshima & Miyajima Tour (Round-trip from Osaka)
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Shared Departure Transfer: Osaka City to Osaka Itami Airport
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Osaka in a Nutshell: Three hour bike tour
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Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in Osaka

star-5
Great Tour!
Shannon_M, Mar 2020
PRIVATE 4-Hour Best of Osaka Local Walk with Castle
This was an awesome tour and I highly recommend this to anyone that is wanting to see Osaka!
star-5
Great Tour!
Patrick_O, Feb 2020
Osaka's Best and Brightest by Private Vehicle
Great way to see Osaka.
star-5
Nice food and experience
Annisa_M, Feb 2020
Kuromon Market Food Walking Tour in Osaka
She takes us walking around the market, buying sushi and souvenirs, and also recommended us another interesting place to visit.
star-5
Osaka tour
Cara_B, Feb 2020
Osaka Walking Tour
He was able to recommend places to see and sites to see while in Osaka.
star-5
Many thanks to Hiro!
Milada_V, Dec 2019
Osaka Half-Day Private Tour with Government-Licensed Guide
Adopted the tour to a senior person for whom is English a second language.
star-5
Interesting, relaxed tour
Patricia_O, Dec 2019
Deep Backstreet Osaka Tours
It was good to be able to see the other sides of Osaka.
star-4
Good Ride for a Good Cause
mbetts2019, Nov 2019
Osaka Bike Tour to the Neighborhood of Osaka Castle
It is a good way to see the Osaka Castle area and some temples, not to mention a close up view of Osaka traffic.
star-5
Great!
AnaPaula_M, Apr 2019
Osaka Walking Tour
The guide was very funny and speak a perfect English.
star-4
Overall a great tour to see the...
Krishna Prema K, Jul 2017
Day Trip by Bus to Kyoto, Nara and Kobe from Osaka/Kyoto
Overall a great tour to see the sights and highlights of Kyoto, Nara and Kobe.
star-5
A great overview of Osaka
Angelica_G, Apr 2021
Osaka virtual tour
It was a great overview of Osaka's culture, history, and cuisine, and it made me really want to visit Osaka once travel is possible again.
star-4
A fun way to see Osaka
Ashleigh_M, Feb 2020
Street Osaka GoKart Tour with Funny Costume Rental
We had a lot of fun and it was a great way to see Osaka.
star-4
the seemy side of Osaka
Julie_H, Nov 2019
Deep Backstreet Osaka Tours
Lots of walking but that's what you need to do to get to see these places.
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Awesome Class with
Diana_E, Nov 2019
Sushi Cooking Class in Osaka
My family and I visited Osaka and were looking for fun activities that we could do in addition to sightseeing.
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PRIVATE TOUR is the BEST!
joygme, Oct 2019
Osaka's Best and Brightest by Private Vehicle
He was warm and sincere, friendly, and very good in English.
star-4
Wonderful Osaka Food Market Experience
PHILIP_S, Sep 2019
PRIVATE Deep Dive: Osaka Food Markets from Local to Luxurious!
I highly recommend this tour to anyone that wants to see the real Osaka behind the scenes food ingredients experience.
star-4
The tour was really interesting with...
Andrew R, Apr 2018
Deep Osaka All-Inclusive Nighttime Foodie Cultural Experience
The tour was really interesting with an English speaking guide who has lived in Osaka for many years.
star-4
The guide: Michiko was on time and...
Taj_S, Sep 2017
Muslim-Friendly Private Tour of Osaka
Even though it says|the tour is a Muslim-Friendly, we had no chance to visit a Mosque in the city of Osaka where we can observe our prayers|and see the architecture of the building, meet some people etc.
star-5
Good overview
catherine_T, Mar 2019
Osaka Walking Tour
She points out things for you to see after the tour and helps you master the subway.
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Hands down the best tour I have ever...
Kevin S, Apr 2018
Osaka Backstreet Night Tour
A great experience and one I will do again if fortunate enough to visit Osaka again.
star-5
My brother and I had a wonderful...
Lesley_D, Apr 2018
PRIVATE 4-Hour Best of Osaka Local Walk with Castle
The tour is a must for visitors who would like to see more than just the main attractions and learn a little about life in Osaka.
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All about Osaka

When to visit

April and May are excellent months for visiting Osaka. Temperatures are warm, there’s little rainfall, and in early April you can see the cherry blossoms. Spring is, however, also Osaka’s busiest season, so be prepared for crowds. Summer is uncomfortably hot and humid, but it is also festival season. The dazzling Tenjin Matsuri—which starts in late July and is one of Japan’s most famous festivals—includes everything from floats and food to fireworks and bonfires on boats.

Getting around

Osaka has an excellent public transportation system. Trains and subways are typically more useful for visitors than buses; a prepaid IC card (a rechargeable card) such as Pasmo or Suica is the best way to pay your fare. If you’ll be traveling a lot on a given day, consider a 1-Day Pass that allows unlimited rides on subways and buses. You can also choose the Osaka Amazing Pass, which includes unlimited bus and train travel along with entry to more than 40 attractions.

Traveler tips

Osaka’s most famous local specialty is takoyaki (octopus in fried dough), and it’s available everywhere from street stalls to restaurants. Once you’ve tried takoyaki from a few different spots, head over to Takohachi, a restaurant in Tennoji, to try some akashiyaki. This specialty, which originated in Hyōgo Prefecture, is a lighter version of the Osaka favorite. It is made with an egg-rich batter and is dipped in a light dashi broth instead slathered in mayonnaise.

A local’s pocket guide to Osaka

Ichiro Ando

Ichi is an office worker-turned-tour guide in Osaka, his home city. Here, the locals have a reputation for being comedians (just joking) and the food is some of the best in Japan.

The first thing you should do in Osaka is...

go to Dotombori and eat takoyaki (fried balls stuffed with octopus) on the street.

A perfect Saturday in Osaka...

starts in Shinsekai with Smart Ball, a pinball-esque arcade game, and a okonomiyaki (savory pancake). Afterwards, visit the Imamiya Ebisu Shrine, and walk to the Namba neighborhood.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

the Osaka Castle. The tower, moat, stone walls, and park that surrounds the castle are beautiful.

To discover the "real" Osaka...

go to Karahori Shopping Street, which still has a traditional vibe. Visit salted kelp and green tea shops; browse at local supermarkets; and eat at affordable noodle restaurants alongside Osakans.

For the best view of the city...

go to the observation deck of the Umeda Sky building that was ranked as one of the most beautiful buildings in the world.

One thing people get wrong...

is thinking Osakans are all both stingy and funny. We’re frugal, sure, but we won’t all make you laugh. And Osaka Castle wasn’t rebuilt by Samurai!

People Also Ask

What is Osaka best known for?

Osaka is known for its friendly, down-to-earth residents, lively nightlife, and outstanding street food. The takoyaki (balls of octopus in fried dough) and okonomiyaki (savory pancakes) served by Osaka’s street vendors are some of the best in Japan. The Dotonbori canal and Osaka Castle are two of Osaka’s best-known attractions.

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What is there to do in Osaka?

Eat your way around Osaka’s street food stalls, make new friends at the neon-fronted bars around glittering Dotonbori, go shopping in the retro-futuristic America Mura, explore ancient temples and the 16th-century Osaka Castle, and get sweeping views of the city from the towering Umeda Sky Building.

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How many days should you spend in Osaka?

While you could easily spend a week or two in Oska without getting bored, three days should be enough time to see all of the main attractions, get a feel for the city, enjoy the restaurant scene and nightlife, and even take a day trip to Nara or Himeji Castle.

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What is cool about Osaka?

Osaka’s greatest asset is its people. Osakans are typically more casual and blunt than people elsewhere in Japan. They also are known for their sense of humor and distinctive accent (Osaka-ben). So take a seat at a bar and get chatting with some locals: it may be the highlight of your trip.

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What do locals do for fun in Osaka?

Osakans are famous for their sense of humor, so it’s no wonder that the city is home to a number of comedy clubs. Japanese-speakers can enjoy traditional rakugo (one-man storytelling) at the Rakugo Theater Tenma Tenjin Hanjo Tei, while English-speakers can head for the exclusively English ROR Comedy Club.

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Is Osaka dangerous?

No. While Osaka does have a higher crime rate than most Japanese cities, it is a very safe destination to visit compared to American or European cities of its size. However, visitors should keep their wits about them in and around Tobita Shinchi (the red light district), and preferably not drink alone in the area’s bars.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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