With a population of 2.5 million, Osaka (大阪, Ōsaka) is Japan’s third largest and second most important city. It has been the economic powerhouse of the Kansai region for many centuries. Osaka is a surprisingly massive city that’s too often overshadowed by Tokyo. For example, its economy, as measured by GDP, makes it the 7th biggest city in the world just after Paris.
Osaka was formerly known as Naniwa. Before the Nara Period, when the capital used to be moved with the reign of each new emperor, Naniwa was once Japan’s capital city, the first one ever known.
Osaka forms one contiguous urban area with neighboring Kyoto and Kobe. This region, known as the Keihanshin Metropolitan Area, has a population of 19 million people. Osaka isn’t just big, it’s unique. Many people are surprised to find that Osaka has a completely different personality from Tokyo. Where Tokyo is reserved, Osaka is extravagant. Where Tokyo is shy, Osaka is warm and outgoing.
With all of the things to do and see in a city, deciding how to spend your time can be quite an agonizing decision. We provides you the Top 10 most popular attractions in Osaka to a list of the most appealing and reputable, to aide in your decision making. You can rest easy knowing that any choice you make from our list is sure to please.
Top 10 Most Popular Attractions in Osaka
1. Osaka castle (大阪城, Ōsakajō)
Osaka castle (大阪城, Ōsakajō), one of the city’s most beloved attractions, is a recreation of a 17th century castle that played an important role in the unification of Japan. Impressive stone walls, elegant gold-leaf trim and copper roofing make it a stunning exhibition of Osaka’s past. An observatory is perched atop the eight-story keep, making it a great place for panoramic views of the surrounding area.
This Castle has a authentic looking exterior but is a modern concrete building inside (complete with elevators).
Osaka Castle Park is a large pleasant park with views of Osaka castle and its huge moats and castle walls. There are various historical attractions, gardens and food vendors in the park. On weekends buskers perform. When the weather is good, the park takes on a festive atmosphere (particularly on weekends).
Particularly it’s one of the best places in Osaka to do hanami (cherry blossom viewing). In many ways, the park is as good as the castle itself. Lovely grounds surround the park and make for a perfect afternoon stroll.
The recommended approach to Osaka Castle is through Otemon Gate at the park’s southwestern corner. The closest station is Tanimachi 4-chrome Station along the Tanimachi Subway Line and Chuo Subway Line.
|The closest JR station to Osaka Castle is Osakajokoen Station on the JR Loop Line, a 10 minute, 160 yen ride from JR Osaka Station.
2. Shitennoji (四天王寺, Shitennōji)
Shitennoji (四天王寺, Shitennōji) is one of Japan’s oldest temples and the first ever to be built by the state. It was constructed in 593 and although the temple’s buildings burned down several times throughout the centuries, they were always carefully reconstructed to reflect the original 6th century design.
Additionly to the Main Golden Hall, visitors will find a five-story pagoda, turtle sanctuary and aged stone gate dating as far back as 1294. Surrounding the temple are lush grounds including a serene Japanese landscape garden replete with manicured shrubbery, streams and waterfalls. Making the perfect historical and cultural stop, the temple is a site worth seeing.
The outer temple grounds are free to enter, but admission to the inner precinct, the Gokuraku-jodo Garden and the treasure house is paid. In the pebble covered courtyard of the inner precinct stand a five-storied pagoda that can be entered and ascended and the Main Hall (Kondo) in which Prince Shotoku is enshrined as a statue of Kannon.
|Shitennoji is a short walk from Shitennoji-mae-Yuhigaoka Station on the Tanimachi Subway Line. Alternatively, it can be reached in a ten minute walk north of JR Tennoji Station on the JR Loop Line.
3. Osaka Aquarium (海遊館, Kaiyūkan)
Osaka Aquarium, also known as Kaiyukan (海遊館, Kaiyūkan) displays a breathtaking view of aquatic life, is located in the Tempozan Harbor Village of Osaka’s bay area, and is one of Japan’s most spectacular aquariums.
Favorites among the 15 natural habitats and 35,000 specimens are the Japanese Forest, whale shark, Arctic penguins and giant spider crab. A total of 27 tanks are designed to make the visitor feel they are under the sea with the fish. They are constructed using 346 tons of acrylic glass that hold 10,941 tons of water. Aimed for guests to feel as though they were playing together with creatures of the sea. Allow approximately 2 hours to take in the spectacular sights. Tours are available for an additional fee.
Visitors start their tour of the aquarium on the 8th floor and slowly spiral down floor by floor around the central tank. Some of the tanks stretch over several floors, making it possible to observe the animals from different depths and perspectives. New exhibition space was added to the aquarium in March 2013.
|Osaka Aquarium is located at Osakako Station on the Chuo subway line.
4. Dotonbori And Namba
Located around Namba Station, Minami (南, “South”) is one of Osaka’s two major city centers. It is the city’s most famous entertainment district and offers abundant dining and shopping choices. Dotonbori features several famous restaurants for local fare such as takoyaki and okonomiyaki.
The district is easily accessible as it is served by three train companies as well as three subway lines and a highway bus terminal. The other major city center is Kita (北, “North”) which is located around Osaka and Umeda Stations.
One of Osaka’s most popular tourist destinations, this street runs parallel to the Dotonbori canal in Namba (Osaka’s main shopping and entertainment area). It is a popular shopping and entertainment district and is also known as a food destination. At night it is lit by hundreds of neon lights and mechanized signs, including the famous Glico Running Man sign and Kani Doraku crab sign.
5. Shinsekai (新世界)
Shinsekai (新世界) is Osaka’s “new world,” and has has a colorful history. It was developed in 1912 — its streets were modeled after New York and Paris.
Shinsekai is also home to Spa World, a huge bath complex with a large number of pools on a European themed floor and an Asian themed floor (enjoyed naked and gender separated). The floors are switched between genders each month. Natural hot spring water is pumped up from far below the earth’s surface.
Today, Shinsekai has a reputation as one of Japan’s poorest and dangerous neighborhoods, a fact that is more reflective of the country’s high standard of safety than anything else. Nevertheless, there is a sizeable homeless population around Shinsekai, and the neighborhood south of the JR railway tracks is one of the few areas in Japan where open prostitution occurs without much police interference. Despite all this, it’s a interesting place to visit. It has loads of cheap restaurants, souvenir shops, mahjong clubs, and pachinko parlors. There are photograph opportunities at every turn.
|Shinsekai is a short walk from Shin-Imamiya Station on the JR Loop Line, Dobutsuen-mae Station on the Midosuji and Sakaisuji Subway Lines, and Ebisucho Station on the Sakaisuji Subway Line.
Get Around and Things to Do In Osaka Japan
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