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.
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…
…to admire the vibrant street art along the riverfront.
Or, to see a better view of the famous Glico running man sign.
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.
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.
Crossing the famous and ancient Tenjin Bridge that was constructed in 1594…
…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.
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.
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.
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.
Wandering further from the City Central Public Hall, bumped into Nakanoshima Park, which is nestled between the Dojimagawa and Tosaborigawa rivers.
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.
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.
Note: All photos by Nilla’s Photography unless otherwise mentioned. No part of this post was composed with the help of ChatGPT or AI.