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The 10 best things to do in Osaka

9 Comments
By Whitney Hubbell

Osaka is often considered the second (or third) city in Japan. It is often overlooked in favor of Tokyo, but in many aspects, the Kansai capital delivers what the Kanto capital does not. For example, popular neighborhoods in Osaka, like Namba and Shinsekai, offer a grittier, brighter and more retro atmosphere than Tokyo—ideal for photographers and night owls.

The largest city in Kansai, the vibe in Osaka is considered more cheerful and relaxed compared to Tokyo. To get a well-rounded experience of this colorful city, we’ve curated 10 of Osaka’s best things to do.

Of course, this is just the beginning of what Osaka has to offer. If you’re seeking even more activities to explore in Osaka, check out our selection of 25 recommended Osaka picks.”

1. Eat Takoyaki

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Is this the most addicting food in Osaka? Image: iStock/ shih-wei

Osaka has no shortage of tasty specialties, but perhaps the most important is takoyaki. Fried octopus balls may at first sound unappetizing to those unfamiliar with the concept, but takoyaki is truly delicious and very cheap.

Made with a flour and egg batter filled with octopus pieces, tempura scraps, pickled ginger and green onion, these golf ball-sized snacks are fried to a golden brown and topped with mayonnaise and a special takoyaki sauce. They are usually served at special stands, many of which have large octopus decorations outside them. Be careful that they are molten hot when you receive them, so wait for them to cool down before you take a bite!

Here are a few recommended shops where you can get excellent takoyaki in Osaka:

Takoyaki Wanaka Sennichimae - Map

Takoyaki Juhachiban Dotonbori - Map

Osaka Takoyaki Park - Map

2. Stroll Dotonbori Canal

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The iconic Osaka spot. Image: iStock/ Nikada

The neon lights and illuminated signboards alongside the Dotonbori Canal frame one of the most iconic spots in Osaka. After dark, the area is awash in neon light, but the daylight does not diminish its colorful and vibrant atmosphere. Dotonbori is a busy shopping area and remains one of Osaka’s most popular food districts, with some restaurants open 24 hours.

Despite its futuristic feel, Dotonbori has been a popular entertainment district for about 400 years. The canal’s construction began in 1612 by canal administrator Nariyasu Doton. After he died in the Siege of Osaka, the new lord of Osaka Castle named the canal “Dotonbori,” bori meaning “canal.”

Chuo Ward, Osaka, 542-0071 - Map

Nearest Station: Namba

3. Osaka Castle

iStock-Sean-Pavone-Osaka-Castle.jpg
The heart of Osaka Image: iStock/ Sean Pavone

Osaka Castle is an integral part of Osaka’s history. Its striking appearance includes glimmering gold ornamentation with tiger imagery, and it is a particularly excellent spot to visit in the spring when the castle park is in full bloom back to back, with plum blossoms in February and cherry blossoms at the end of March.

The original castle was constructed in 1583 under Toyotomi Hideyoshi but was destroyed and rebuilt a couple of times within the following century. The current Osaka castle is a reconstruction dating to 1931 that underwent major renovations in 1997. Its ferroconcrete structure makes it much sturdier than the original wooden castles of Japan, so this version is built to last.

1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka - Map

Nearest Station: Osakajokoen

Admission: ¥600

www.osakacastle.net

4. Namba Yasaka Jinja

iStock-decoplus.inc-Namba-Yasaka-Shrine-osaka.jpg
Rock the dragon. Image: iStock/ decoplus.inc

Click here to read more.

© GaijinPot

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

9 Comments
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Numbers one and two you can do in the same place surrounded by thousands of mostly-Asian tourists doing exactly that.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

See if the band Shonen Knife is playing in their hometown and if they are, catch them live. You'll be glad you did.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Just getting out and about in Osaka is enough already, especially when requested not to. I second the Shonen Knife suggestion; let's say Osaka Ramones!

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I'm surprised USJ is not mentioned here. Good place there with City Walk. You can eat takoyaki in other places outside of Osaka, but the Osaka takoyaki is very good. You can also stroll between Namba and Shinsaibashi, along with Dotomburi and Amemura (in the Shinsaibashi area. If you're just feeling lazy, then just go around the Osaka Loop line around the city. I also wonder why the article didn't mention strolling through the underground shopping areas. There are lots of gems of shops and cafes there. It's perfect during rainy, very hot, and very cold weather. Another treat is going back in time through the Chin chin densha from Tennoji through to Sakai, where you can relax on mostly old train cars through the older parts of the city without the stress of crowds on subways. These trains charge only one price that's really affordable, no matter where you get on and off.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

In all my years in Osaka, I’ve yet to go to Shinsekai and Tsutenkaku. When I came here in the early 90s, I was often warned that the area was relatively dangerous. They’re both now on my list of places to visit when it gets warmer.

I'm surprised USJ is not mentioned here.

The portion above is just part of the list. Click on the “Click here to read more” link at the bottom and you’ll find USJ.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In all my years in Osaka, I’ve yet to go to Shinsekai and Tsutenkaku. When I came here in the early 90s, I was often warned that the area was relatively dangerous. They’re both now on my list of places to visit when it gets warmer.

It's still a bit dodgy, but it's not really dangerous as some say it might be. I've been there at night. It's not that big of a deal. I've been through much more dangerous areas in my hometown that aren't really dangerous by the locals. Even the Nishinari area isn't that dangerous. There's no gang activity, no real theft, and hardly anything happens to foreigners there. Just the image, that's all. I'm sure the same can be said for some areas in Tokyo, too.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The portion above is just part of the list. Click on the “Click here to read more” link at the bottom and you’ll find USJ.

You're right. My bad.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Another treat is going back in time through the Chin chin densha from Tennoji through to Sakai, where you can relax on mostly old train cars through the older parts of the city without the stress of crowds on subways.

I agree. It's also worth getting off for a walk around at Sumiyoshitoriimae. The shrine on one side and various bars and restaurants on the other. A nice escape.

Even the Nishinari area isn't that dangerous. There's no gang activity, no real theft, and hardly anything happens to foreigners there.

Just be careful if driving in the area. I remember the first time I drove in that area - going to pick up my wife and new-born daughter from the hospital. A neighbor had lent me his car and told me to keep well away from the sidewalk in case someone jumped out in front of you and then claimed compensation for any injuries. :-)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Never did get round to properly exploring Osaka. Wish I had back when I was in the Kansai area. I'd like to visit the Umeda Sky Building and see some views. Did see some great views of the cityscape from Abeno Harukas on one visit though.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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