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August 31, 2022 5 min read
There you go, you just booked your plane tickets destination Land of the Rising Sun 😀 !
While Tokyo and Kyoto may have already conquered you, the gastronomy and the warm atmosphere of Osaka have won you over. The western Japanese metropolis is among the top 3 major Japanese cities to visit. But what to do in Osaka? With its vibrancy, modern architecture and tasty local cuisine, this cosmopolitan city has plenty to offer.
Check out the following 10 ideas of the best things to do in the capital of Kansai.
With its impressive size and its 2.7 million inhabitants, Osaka is the 3rd most important city of the archipelago. Located in the Kansai region in the southwest of Honshu island, in the Osaka prefecture, this port city played a major role in the country's industry after the Second World War and remains one of the economic powerhouses of Japan. Osaka forms, with Kyoto and Kobe, the three urban poles of the Kansai region. Considered the gastronomic capital of Japan, the metropolis is particularly famous for its street food.
The capital of Kansai has plenty to delight travelers with its lively Namba district and its famous Dotonburi Street that never sleeps. The city is also known for its castle and its most amazing spiritual places. Osaka is also an entertainment mecca with amusement parks, a huge aquarium, popular food and theaters. No doubt, you won't be bored in Osaka.
Located in the heart of Namba district in the south of Osaka, Dotonbori is definitely the most touristic spot in the city. This shopping street along the canal of the same name is full of restaurants and bars offering the best local specialties. At night, huge illuminated signs and screens light up the street to impress the passers-by. Among them, the Glico billboard and its athlete, which has become a symbol of the area. Above the restaurant Kani Dokaku, you can see a giant crab, another mascot of the neighborhood. Lively day and night the place is ideal to soak up the hectic atmosphere of Osaka and taste some delicious Japanese street-food.
Namba, also known as Minami, is the most lively district in Osaka. In the evening, the streets become festive and glow under the neon lights of the signs. You can smell the delicious aroma of Japanese street food. After a good meal and a drink in an izakaya, the area offers plenty of entertainment such as karaoke, pachinko halls and discos.
In Chuo-ku district, not far from Dotonbori, head to the most commercial district of Osaka, named Shinsaibashi. This place is famous for its commercial centers, its large shopping mall of 600 m long and its stores. Note that trade has not ceased to radiate in this district, ever since the Edo period. In Shinsaibashi, shopping addicts will have the time of their lives.
Downtown Osaka is home to one of the most famous castles in Japanese history and its huge green park. Emblem of the city, this 16th century building has been rebuilt several times and only the moat and the ramparts remain as they were originally. However, its architecture offers an incredible contrast with the urban landscape that surrounds it. It costs about 600 yens to visit, which is about 5 dollars. Inside the building, you will find a museum presenting the history of Osaka castle, symbol of the unification of Japan in the samurai era. The icing on the cake: from the top of its dungeon, you'll have a breathtaking view on Osaka city.
In the southwest of Osaka, in the Minato district, we find one of the largest aquariums in the world. Kaiyukan is an urban aquarium located on the bay of Osaka, presenting over 600 underwater species from the Pacific Ocean. The site houses tanks of impressive size and no less than eleven tons of water! The visit starts with a passage in a fish tunnel before going up to the 8th floor to find otters, penguins and other aquatic specimens. The main attraction remains the aquarium's mascot: the whale shark.
In the popular district of Tennoji, a stone's throw from the train station, you can visit one of the oldest Buddhist temples of Japan and also the most important one of Osaka. Built in the 6th century, under the impulse of Prince Shotoku, this spiritual place dedicated to the 4 celestial kings of Buddhism is a very peaceful place. Despite several fires, the complex has been rebuilt while preserving its original architecture. Know that you can access the interior of the pagoda, which is very rare for a temple in Japan.
In the south of the metropolis, not far from the famous Namba district, we find one of the most beautiful Shinto shrines of Japan in the Sumiyoshi district. Founded in the 3rd century (before the arrival of Buddhism in Japan), Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine offers a unique architectural style as well as a unique history dating back to ancient Japan. Classified as a national treasure, this shrine worships the 4 Sumiyoshi tanjin kami and the Empress Jingu. Soak in the serenity of this sacred place, where quiet reigns apart from during Hatsumode (Japanese New Year).
Universal Studios Japan is the first park in the franchise set up outside the US! Every year, this theme park attracts many tourists from all over the world to Osaka Bay. Note that the site is easily accessible by train. Its theme? The cinematographic universe of American blockbuster movies, video games and the biggest Japanese mangas. Discover the magical world of Harry Potter, the Flying Dinosaur roller coaster without forgetting the thrilling Mario Kart interactive race.
The Umeda Sky Building is an impressive skyscraper consisting of two 40-story towers, connected by an observatory. Located in the north of the city, in the futuristic district of Umeda, this building was built in 1993 at the end of the Japanese economic boom. With its glass walls and original structure, the building designed by Hiroshi Hara is distinguished by its modern architecture. At the top of the building, a great reward awaits you: The Kuchu Teien Observatory or Floating Garden Observatory offers an incredible 360-degree panorama over the entire city! In the evening, you can enjoy the sunset over the mountains while by nightfall, the cityscape will glow brightly.
Kushikatsu in a bowl at a restaurant in Osaka.
Osaka is definitely a city where it is good to eat. Foodies and fans of Japanese cuisine will love the local specialties such as takoyaki, okonomiyaki, kushikatsu or kitsune udon.
Takoyaki is an octopus fritter with vegetables and ginger that is absolutely delicious. Also made with octopus, tako tamako is a very tasty caramelized skewer with a quail egg inside. The okonomiyaki is a mix of patty from Osaka made of cabbage. This grilled omelette is filled with many different ingredients. You can find it everywhere in the city. However, the one in Dontonbori and Namba districts are very popular. For those who don't like cabbage, a variant with green onion is called negiyaki. In Osaka, you will find many varieties of kushikatsu to enjoy with a beer in izakayas. These are fried skewers made of meat, fish or vegetables, available in an infinite variety. Finally, kitsune udon, a thick noodle soup with fried tofu and dashi broth, is renowned for its sweet taste.
With its lively atmosphere and various points of interest, Osaka has many tourist attractions to satisfy the whole family. How about you, what is your program?
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