Osaka is the third-biggest city in Japan after Tokyo and Yokohama. One of the highlights of the Kansai region, this intriguing megacity, with its distinctive atmosphere compared to other large Japanese cities, is loved by visitors and locals alike. A true street food lover's heaven, bustling with shopping streets and lively neighborhoods, Osaka is an unmissable Japan experience for travelers. Here are some of our favorite sights to see. Find more information in our dedicated article!
Arguably Osaka’s biggest tourist attraction, Dotonbori’s extravagant neon-lit signs illuminate the heart of the city, bringing in thousands of tourists daily. The area boasts an enormous variety of restaurants, bars and shops with the surrounding Shinsaibashi shopping street stretching as far as the eye can see.
Dotonbori is one of the best places in Osaka to experience the ‘Kuidaore’ style of loving food: “eat till you drop.”
Famous restaurants in Dotonbori include the following:
- Hariju has been serving prime Japanese beef shabu shabu and sukiyaki in Dotombori since 1948.
- Zubora-ya is a fugu or pufferfish specialty restaurant.
- Kukuru is a takoyaki octopus dumpling shop.
- Kushikatsu Daruma has been serving deep fried kebabs of skewered meat fish and vegetables since 1929.
- Kani Douraku is a super popular crab restaurant. Kani Douraku is easily recognized by the giant moving crab on its shopfront, but if you want to eat here it’s a good idea to book a table in advance, as the waiting time can be as long as 3 hours!
Dotonbori is famous for its eye-catching signage and billboards with a giant pufferfish, an octopus, a clown, and the Kani Douraku crab all vying for your attention and creating an amusement park-like atmosphere. Of all these signs however, the most famous is that of the Glico running man above Ebisubashi Bridge.
Only an 8-minute walk from Namba Station through Shinsaibashi, Dotonbori is in the heart of Osaka’s city center and of course you can use the Japan Rail Pass and the IC Cards to travel around.
For those visiting Osaka who are more interested in streetwear, fashion, music and nightlife, Amemura is the place for you! Since the 1970s Amemura has been famous for selling American fashion and music from the US. Due to its unique nature and presence it soon became a birthplace of the latest fashion trends and a major area of Osaka’s youth culture. Amemura continues to serve as a hub for trends and is the ‘it-place’ for fashionistas, streetwear and hip hop enthusiasts and skateboarders.
Located in Osaka’s Minami District, it is located west of Midosuji, only 10 minutes away from Dotonbori.
It’s best place in Osaka if you’re into streetwear with big name brands such as Supreme, A Bathing Ape*, Stussy, Carhartt WIP and Undercover to name a few stretching down shop fronts on Orange Street. As well as this, it is also the perfect place for vintage shopping with many second-hand stores open in the area.
If you are interested in music and nightlife culture, Amemura is full of new and used record stores and nightclubs such as Joule, CIrcus and Ghost. Bars and clubs in the district are famous for being frequented by artists, musicians and designers.
The area surrounds Triangle Park, famous for being a rest stop during the day whilst shopping and people-watching. Once it's evening, it becomes the hub for drinking with friends and listening to music between frequenting bars and nightclubs.
Read more about Amerika-mura HERE.
One of Kansai’s most famous and recognisable landmarks is Osaka Castle with its original construction in 1583 intending for it to become the centre of a new, unified Japan under Toyotomi rule. It was the largest castle in Japan at the time.
The castle has repeatedly been destroyed and rebuilt over many centuries until in 1931 the present ferro-concrete reconstruction of the castle tower was built. It survived many city-wide air raids during the Second World War and major repair works were completed in 1997. The interior has been entirely modernised acting as a now informative museum about the castle's history and Toyotomi Hideyoshi.
Osaka Castle is surrounded by secondary citadels, gates, turrets, and its signature stone walls and moats. The Nishinomaru Garden is complete with hundreds of cherry trees, a tea house, the former Osaka Guest House and the picturesque view of the castle seen in many visitor’s photos. It is important to note the garden requires an admission fee.The park is one of Osaka's most popular areas for Hanami during cherry blossom season, making it perfect to eat and drink on picnic blankets in spring.
The closest JR station to Osaka Castle is Osakajokoen Station on the JR Loop Line, which only takes 10 minutes from JR Osaka Station.
The castle tower is open from 09:00-17:00 with 600 yen admission. Nishinomaru Garden is open from 09:00-17:00 with 200 yen admission. During cherry blossom season, it is open until 21:00 and the entry fee is 350 yen.
Shinsekai and Tsutenkaku
If you are interested in trying some of Osaka’s most famous street foods, bar hopping around some authentic izakayas or visiting one of Osaka’s iconic landmarks, we highly recommend Shinsekai!
The unique feel of this district largely stems from its rough-around-the-edges authenticity that makes it stand out from anywhere else in Japan and makes it so inherently Osakan.
A big attraction of Shinsekai is kushikatsu, one of Osaka's best known specialties. It is bite-sized skewered and deep fried vegetables such as radish, asparagus, onion, aubergine and meats such as pork, beef and chicken. The wide variety on offer makes it the perfect dish if you want to try several different things. Many of Shinsekai's kushikatsu restaurants are open 24 hours, but we recommend going in the evening once the sun has set.
If you do visit Shinsekai, it’s a must that you go to Tsutenkaku Tower! The tower is complete with a souvenir shop, a capsule toy corner and Jan Jan Town, a themed model walkthrough of Shinsekai in the past. Once you get to the top of the Tower, you can get a 360 view of the whole city! This is particularly good at night. FInally you can pay a visit to the Billiken Shrine, the symbol of Shinsekai that is said to bring good luck to those who visit it.
Tsutenkaku Tower is open all year round from 10:00 AM - 8:00 PM, with admission until 7:30 PM.
From Namba Station, it’s a 20 minute train journey to Shin-Imamiya Station. From Shin-Imamiya Station it is only a 7 minute walk to the centre of Shinsekai. As you walk through the streets you will get a flavour of Osaka’s more urban side complete with markets, izakayas, bars and many kushikatsu restaurants.