Osaka’s Groovy Sights

Osaka’s lively energy is infectious. Bursting with activities and delightful sights, Japan’s third-most populated city is definitely not short of groovy sights.

Not wanting to be thrown into Japan’s immense population by landing in Tokyo, especially after visiting a quieter Singapore, decided on Osaka as the first destination in early March. Still the shoulder season, the famous cherry blossoms are ever-elusive.

Although many travel itineraries mention that three days in Osaka is ideal if time is limited, after spending eight days in Osaka, this still isn’t near enough as there really is so much to see. So, let’s start with Dōtonbori…


Taking Osaka’s Mogidishi (red) line metro to the JR Namba station, a 5-minute walk lands you in Dōtonbori, Osaka’s hectic Chuo Ward.

Arresting the senses, confronted by soaring illuminated billboards, extravagant bright neon lights, and an abundance of restaurants, theatres, bars, and nightlife spilling out onto the street, sets a party town scene.

nightscape, Dōtonbori, Osaka, Japan, Asia
Never sleeps

Dating back to 1612 with the construction of canals, Dōtonbori (also known as Dōtombori) is chaotic and super lively. Dōtonbori is one of Osaka’s most popular tourist destinations and also where the famous and delicious octopus balls (Takoyaki) are devoured by the thousands if not millions.

For the best views of Dōtonbori’s neon nightscape, merge with the plethora of tourists and head to the pedestrian Ebisubashi Bridge, which connects shopping malls over the Dōtonbori River.

Enormous and flashy billboards with lazily moving parts or 3D appearance models…

…embellish restaurant entrances inviting patrons to dine or just to take the obligatory selfies.

For the budget-conscious, indulge in the numerous street food stalls for luscious Japanese treats. Food is absolutely everywhere.

Take the time to stroll along the river. If lucky, you may find a little serenity albeit even for a brief moment…

nightscape, Dōtonbori, Osaka, Japan, Asia
Lining the riverside

…to admire the vibrant street art along the riverfront.

Street art, Dōtonbori, Osaka, Japan, Asia
Street art, Dōtonbori, Osaka, Japan, Asia
Colourful APA Hotel

Or, to see a better view of the famous Glico running man sign.

Dōtonbori, Glico running man sign, Osaka, Japan, Asia

Lighting up 30 minutes after sunset and illuminated until midnight, the gigantic sign installed in 1935, depicts a giant athlete on a blue track and is symbolic of Glico candy.

Always on the lookout for unique oddities, these sculptures earn my vote for weirdness. What do you think?

While you’re perusing and exploring the bustling streets of Dōtonbori, stop by the Waffle Kahn for an amazing and delectable waffle made while you wait.

Dōtonbori, Waffle Khan, Osaka, Japan, Asia

Check my separate post for free tips on the sensational food that you don’t want to miss in Dōtonbori and also around Osaka: Eat and Sleep in Osaka, Japan.

Nakanoshima Island

Crossing the famous and ancient Tenjin Bridge that was constructed in 1594…

Tenjinbashi Bridge, Nakanoshima Island, Osaka, Japan, Asia
Originally named the “New Bridge” but later the Tenjin Bridge

…to Nakanoshima Island, which is a 3-kilometre long and 50-hectare narrow sandbank in Osaka’s Kita-ku district, enjoy a leisurely stroll through central Osaka’s largest green space – an urban oasis.

Osaka’s first beer garden is on the island as are some of the city’s best international cafes and restaurants, but also museums and the city’s rose garden.

Tenjinbashi Bridge, Nakanoshima Island, Osaka, Japan, Asia
Nakanoshima Island – Osaka City Central Public Hall (left) and Tenjin Bridge (right)

Osaka City Central Public Hall

Along the Dojima and the Tosabori Rivers, the lovely neo-renaissance-style of Osaka City Central Public Hall was designed as an important cultural building in Japan.

Opened in 1918 the public hall is one of Osaka’s most famous buildings.

With a vision for a large public hall as beautiful as any in the world, Mr Einosuke Iwamoto – a broker in Kitahama, Osaka – provided a large grant (billions of yen in today’s monetary value) for the building.

Mr Einosuke Iwamoto, Osaka City Central Public Hall, Osaka, Japan, Asia
Mr Einosuke Iwamoto – photo taken inside of the public hall

When visiting the public hall, a dog show was wrapping up and the one thing that really struck oddness is the human baby nappies on all of the dogs, whether caged or not. Maybe it was for the show.

dog show, Osaka City Central Public Hall, Osaka, Japan, Asia
Is this a common practice among dog lovers?

Nakanoshima Art in the City

During the visit to Osaka City Central Public Hall, the free Nakanoshime Art in the City Osaka Art Festival graced its surrounding grounds.

Collecting a large free map (in Japanese) next to the captivating car sculpture, the map displays where to locate Japanese artists’ intriguing sculptures and artworks.

Nakanoshima Art in the City, Osaka, Japan, Asia
The jutting tree is actually part of this unusual sculpture

Nakanoshima Park

Wandering further from the City Central Public Hall, bumped into Nakanoshima Park, which is nestled between the Dojimagawa and Tosaborigawa rivers.

under highway bridge near Nakanoshima Island, Osaka, Japan, Asia
Beneath the highway opposite Nakanoshima Island

Hosting a rose garden that includes 310 species of different roses, it’s early in March, so sadly, nothing much is in bloom as spring is only just starting.

Nakanoshima Island, Osaka, Japan, Asia
Start of rose garden (right)

Established in 1891 and incorporating Osaka’s first beer garden, Nakanoshima Park is a scenic greenery respite, backdropped by the historical Osaka City Central Public Hall.

While at Nakanoshima Park, glance across the Tasabori River at the Kitahama Retro building displaying a large teapot on the building’s fascia.

Operating as a cafe, Kitahama Retro is sandwiched and dwarfed between two large buildings. Unexpected in modern Osaka, this old-world building was built in 1912 and inspired by Glaswegian buildings.

Where is Osaka?

Check back next week for unmissable sights in Osaka.

Visit Nilla’s Photography for more global images. More posts at Image Earth Travel.

Note: All photos by Nilla’s Photography unless otherwise mentioned. No part of this post was composed with the help of ChatGPT or AI.

Pin me!


16 responses to “Osaka’s Groovy Sights”

  1. Valent Lau Avatar

    This is a very funny character

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Yes, it is!
      Appreciate your comment.

  2. Len Kagami Avatar

    They even let the creepy Momo (the ghost in white outfit) do PR. How odd! 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Ah, that’s the name of that – just looked it up, thanks!

  3. Dave Ply Avatar

    The whole over the top, “hey you, look at me!” billboard thing seems at odds with the refined, ritualized stereotype that I sometimes get for Japanese culture. Clearly, it’s much more complex and sophisticated than that.

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Totally agree Dave. I found Japan to be a country of contradictions.

  4. Toonsarah Avatar

    We only spent a day in Osaka (well, two, but we used one of them for a day trip to Hiroshima). I enjoyed Dōtonbori and we saw the castle and aquarium, but little else. The public hall and the riverside street art would both have appealed to me if we’d had more time – thanks for sharing them 🙂

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      You’re very welcome, Sarah!
      What a shame you didn’t spend more time in Osaka but there’s always next time. 😉
      A lot of people bypass Osaka or just use the city as a steppingstone to other places. My next Japan post will include the castle and a couple more unmissable sights.
      I’ll publish the Hiroshima post in a few weeks as I still have about 20 drafts on Japan to finish.

  5. Bahanur Avatar

    Osaka is a wonderful place and quite different from Tokyo! I live in Hyogo—Osaka’s western neighbor, and I can say Osaka people are way friendlier than the locals here!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Hi Bahanur
      Wow, you live in Hyogo – how cool!
      Maybe it’s because Tokyo’s population is almost 36 million and is hammered by tourists? I loved Osaka as it’s quieter than Tokyo but stay tune for my Hokkaido posts. For me, the island of Hokkaido is the best. Less people and more spectacular natural scenery. 😉

      1. Bahanur Avatar

        Hi Nilla! I love Hokkaido 😊 It has an entirely different vibe than Honshu! I’ll look forward to reading about your adventures in Hokkaido ^.^

      2. Image Earth Travel Avatar

        Exactly! Much more relaxed and also the locals are more relaxed with 5% of Japan’s population and 20% of the land mass. Sadly, we only spent 2 weeks in Hokkaido and when we return to Japan, I’m sure it will be to explore more of Hokkaido.

  6. Yetismith Avatar

    What a very curious mixture of old/new/classic/bizarre! I would love the historic. The rest would be a bit of sensory overload. My only experience with the Japanese was when Tim and I stayed overnight once in Guam. It was the time of year for marriage in Japan and Guam was a top honeymoon destination but they seem to do it in group movements. We watched in fascination during meals as they sat around large tables passing a camera around so they could photograph each other. They also seemed to have incredible (enviable) metabolism and they ate their way through every item. Japanese breakfast followed by full Western and they were all stick-like. Who’s to say they don’t have the right idea? They all seemed very content. I shall refer Tim to your posts. He is planning to go to Japan next May. It’s one place he never got to “do”!

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      It really is a mixture, or is that a mélange? 😉
      Ha, ha, Australia used to be the place that Japanese couples enjoyed their honeymoon in the ’80s and ’90s, but sadly, think our country became too expensive so they found another country – Guam?
      Thank you for sharing my post, I still have around 20 posts about Japan in draft – just can’t seem to find the time as enjoying Italy too much.
      Oh and your comment went into my Trash folder again – WP!

  7. Avatar

    wonderful. your posts give meaning to the place, its culture, its people, its history and puts us inside this life.
    my hug, Nilla.😃

    1. Image Earth Travel Avatar

      Thank you for your great feedback!
      Hope all is OK. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Own one of my Limited Edition photographs or prints. Click this #saatchiart icon for my page.

Saatchi Art

Follow my blog by email!
Never miss out on a fabulous photo deal or travel update.

Join 8,285 other subscribers

I'm currently in Kosovo

Global visitors since February 2017 - thank you!


Visitors since May 2016 - thank you!

Flag Counter

©2015-2023 Image Earth Travel

This website's content cannot be copied and/or published in any way, without written permission from
Image Earth Travel.

Feel free to use excerpts and links, provided that you give full and clear credit to Image Earth Travel,
with appropriate and specific direction/link to the original content.

Follow me on...

pinterest logo circle P in Red png
%d bloggers like this: