First Time in Osaka: 5 Must-Visit Places in Osaka, Japan
[Osaka Castle grounds | Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]
First Time in Osaka: 5 Must-Visit Places in Osaka, Japan
Some cities in Japan are best explored randomly — without a fixed itinerary, without constantly bugging yourself about where to go. You just want to get lost in the beauty and charm of the place. Osaka is one of these cities.
But if it’s your first time in Osaka, you don’t want to miss out on the most important and coolest parts of the city.
When you get here, you’ll probably think of your lists — the top things to do in Osaka or the best places in Osaka that you should visit. If you haven’t done your Osaka trip itinerary yet, it’s totally fine. We got you covered.
Here, we will give you five must-visit places in Osaka, Japan, as well as the top things to do in Osaka, so you won’t have to worry anymore.
1. Osaka Castle
[Osaka Castle | Image Courtesy of Sangyeon / Pixabay]
Osaka Castle is one of the oldest and greatest castles still standing in the entirety of Japan. First constructed in 1583 by over 100,000 people, the castle had been through rough times — from war-inflicted destructions to man-made ruinations to a lightning strike. The Osaka Castle that stands today was built in 1931 and went through several renovations over the years. The original 16th-century structure may have been long gone, but Osaka Castle remains as a historic monument symbolizing a new, unified Japan.
Osaka Castle is located inside a park that stretches about 2sqm and surrounded by citadels, stone walls, gates, moats, and turrets. The Osaka Castle Park also houses a castle tower, a lawn garden, sports facilities, a shrine, and a multi-purpose hall, among other structures. Cherry blossom trees gird the park making it one of the best hanami spots in Osaka during the cherry blossom season.
Some of the things you can do at the park include biking, meditation, or learning more about the history of Osaka or Japan in general. And you can freely stroll in most parts of the park, too.
[Dotonbori | Image Courtesy of Eleonora Albasi / Unsplash]
Dotonbori is a popular tourist destination located in Minami, one of the two major city centers of Namba. And when we say popular, we mean it in every sense of the word.
Strolling and food crawling around Dotonbori are two of the top things to do in Osaka at night. Bright neon lights, flamboyant 3D signages, and humungous, flashy billboards decorating the streets make it like a transhumanist city of the future. Into the bargain are some shops, bars, restaurants, and food stalls that never sleep — a perfect spot for random, not-so-crowded late-night and early morning wanderings.
3. Kuromon Ichiba
[Kuromon Market | Image Courtesy of chee.hong / Flickr]
Kuromon Ichiba has earned the moniker “Osaka’s Kitchen” with good merits. It’s been around for 190 years, serving locals and professional chefs with fresh produce. The covered public market spans 600 meters, housing about 180 shops mainly selling newly-harvested seafood, raw meat, and garden-fresh vegetables. But, tons of shops and stalls are also selling traditional Japanese sweets, clothes, and homeware — all in one place.
Some worthwhile things to do in Osaka — particularly in this part of the city — include hunting for souvenirs and trying a variety of traditional foods. The market has started attracting tourists in the past decades, so it can get really crowded in most parts of the day.
4. Umeda Sky Building
[Umeda Sky Building | Image Courtesy of Brucke-Osteuropa / Wikimedia Commons]
At the heart of Shin Umeda City — a building complex located in Kita — is a 173-meter tall skyscraper, the Umeda Sky Building. Right off the surface, you’ll behold an out of the ordinary modern Japanese architecture that looks very much like a standing rectangular bar.
First opened in 1993, the towering Umeda Sky Building (and the Westin Osaka Hotel on the other side) has become one of the most remarkable landmarks in Osaka viewable almost anywhere in the city. The suspended roof connecting the two structures — called Kuchu Teien or Floating Garden Observatory — is like no other. It’s a hanging garden per se with local plants and flowers, serving as an open-air observation deck that gives you a 360-degree panoramic view of Osaka.
5. Universal Studios Japan
[Universal Studios Japan | Image Courtesy of Max Pixel]
Your Osaka trip is never complete without a visit to Universal Studios Japan. Universal Studios Japan is the second-largest theme park in Japan right next to Disneyland Tokyo.
As with any other Universal Studios theme parks, Universal Studio Japan houses thrill rides, shows, and family entertainment. Universal Studios Japan has nine different zones, namely: The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic Park, Minion Park, Amity Village, Waterworld, Hollywood, San Francisco, New York, and Universal Wonderland. But of course, it’s also packed with a range of local Japanese movies and characters. It also holds seasonal events like Halloween and Christmas.
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