Explore breathtaking and unmissable attractions in Japan’s dazzling city of Osaka.
Packed with activities and delightful sights, Osaka is definitely not short of spectacular and memorable experiences, starting with the…
One of Japan’s most visited tourist attractions and enticing over 2.5 million visitors a year, the majestic Osaka Castle (Ōsakajo) is a favourite among foreigners and locals.
Construction of the expansive and stunning Osaka Castle started in 1583 although after brutal feudal wars and the castle clan’s lineage ending in 1615, the castle was rebuilt during the 1620s. Tragically, in 1665, lightning struck the castle’s main tower, which burnt down and was not rebuilt until 1931 in ferro-concrete.
Soaring impressive stone walls, moats, turrets, gates, and citadels surround the castle with the Nishinomaru Garden (paid entry) encompassing 600 cherry trees, which sadly, are only just starting to bud during the March 2023 visit.
Packed with visitors wandering through the striking extensive grounds, it’s free to enter Osaka Castle Park. Although, entry to the castle is ¥600 but gave this a miss as the queue to enter the castle was much too long.
Stop by the Shudokan Hall, which opened in 1963 as a martial arts training centre. “The name Shudokan represents our desire that young people learn the right path in life by training body and mind.”
Take a peaceful trip in the Osaka Castle Gozabune Boat around the moat for a 20-minute closer look at the castle’s stone walls.
Umeda Sky Building
Be prepared to be awestruck at the 173-metre (568 ft) tall Umdea Sky Building designed by Hiroshi Hara with the completion of the spectacular 40-floor skyscraper in 1993.
This is one of Japan’s most distinctive landmarks and it’s not surprising to see why.
Two soaring towers are connected by the circular Floating Garden Observatory on the 39th floor.
Head to the open-air deck Kuchu Teien Observatory for dramatic 360-degree views of Osaka.
The sky reflects in the mirror-like walls made of steel and glass absorbing the structure’s surrounding, to create a synergy between nature and the man-made contemporary architecture.
A trip to this urban marvel is a must. Whilst on the 39th floor, stop by Café SKY 40 for a bite to eat and a different perspective.
Only a 15-minute walk from Osaka and Umeda stations, entry is ¥1,500 – click this link for opening hours and full details.
This is a short video to give you a little taste of the amazing Umeda Sky Building and its extremely long elevator.
Take the brown metro line from Minminmorimachi (K13) to Sakaisuji-Hommachi station (K15) to see the vibrant youth culture in Amerika-Mura. A place where young Japanese locals can express themselves via clothes and attitude. Especially at Sankaku Koen Park, a centralised plaza which is the meeting triangle.
Shop for funky clothes in one of the plethora of used clothes shops, but be warned, second-hand is not cheap as it’s trendy in Japan.
Loads of murals and street art grace buildings in Amerika-Mura…
…and innovative groovy light posts along the street make strolling an exciting and unique experience.
Why not stop for a bite to eat at one of the many nearby curious restaurants or enjoy a drink at a hip neighbourhood bar…
…but some, are not so fortunate.
Unusual Osaka artwork
Travelling is not just about designated must-see tourist sights. Taking the time to roam around while immersing yourself in the not-so-traversed paths, is a wonderful way to uncover surprising photo opportunities.
Of course, always in search of art, which is unmissable for me regardless of the country, Osaka is dotted with curious and sometimes surprising artwork. Sadly, the artist was not on display for these pieces.
More sights around Osaka, if you have time
The unmissable sights I’ve shared here are by no means all that Osaka offers a traveller.
In addition to Osaka’s groovy sights I shared last week, these are only a few of the squeezed-in sights over eight wonderful days. Surrounded by rivers, you can cruise on the river to capture a different perspective of this city of over 19 million people.
Still to explore are a swag of museums that grace Osaka and even includes the Cupnoodles Museum which explains the invention of instant Ramen noodles. Osaka is home to the Asahi Beer Factory, and also the Suntory Yamazaki Distillery – Japan’s first malt whiskey distillery.
National parks, waterfalls, a plethora of temples and shrines, Shimoakasaka’s Tanada (terraced rice fields), and Hirakata Park, which opened over 100 years ago are just a few more sights to enjoy. The Universal Studios Japan theme park is especially popular with locals as is Legoland.
Another tourist attraction is the HEP FIVE Ferris wheel, which sits 75 metres high on the rooftop of the HEP FIVE shopping centre and costs around ¥600 for a 15-minute ride.
Exploring a country is not just about tourist attractions but also locals as they can either make or break a destination. Osaka’s locals are friendly and helpful.
Osaka to Nara day trip
Many travellers also use Osaka as a base for day trips to surrounding national parks, waterfalls, and temples but also to Japan’s cultural treasure Nara City, which is a popular adventure for the day.
Several historical sites in Nara are registered with UNESCO’s World Heritage List as “Historical Monuments of Ancient Nara”, cementing its importance in Japan.
Where is Osaka?
Leaving Osaka for Hiroshima
The cheapest way to travel from Osaka to Hiroshima is by bus, although the bus journey takes longer than a train or the Shinkansen (Bullet) train. You always see more of the countryside by bus.
As the Bullet train is expensive, taking a Bullet on a shorter leg just to experience the speed is for later. We’re travelling for a couple of years so can’t blow the budget in the first 2 weeks. My post on Landing in Osaka, Japan for details on the best transportation card to use in Osaka.
Check back in a couple of weeks for the Hiroshima post. Or, next week for the post on the intriguing day trip to Nara, unless I first finish my post on stunning Scigliano in southern Italy’s Calabria region.
Note: All photos by Nilla’s Photography unless otherwise mentioned. No part of this post was composed with the help of ChatGPT or AI.