Things To Do in Osaka, Japan
20 Top Things to Do in Osaka, Japan From a Local Guide’s Perspective
Osaka is one of the world’s most visited cities in 2019, receiving over 10.14 million domestic and foreign tourists. As Osaka continues to make a mark as a top travel destination, you can expect a lot of things to do in Osaka that you won’t find anywhere else in Japan.
One that many holidaymakers take delight in is the unique culinary adventure this historic city offers. Osaka, after all, is “The Nation’s Kitchen,” and Osakans aren’t taking that moniker any less. But of course, food is just half of the adventure. Osaka offers so much more than satisfying your gastronomic cravings.
If you’re looking for some fun and memorable stuff to do in Osaka, look no further. We came up with 20 of the best things to do in Osaka, Japan, so you don’t have to dig anywhere else.
1. Get Lost In Dotonbori At Night
Dotonbori at night | Image Courtesy of Agathe Marty / Unsplash
Dotonbori in Minami District is one of the unmissable things to do in Osaka at night. Dizzying neon lights and big flashy billboards and 3D signs all decorate the opposite lanes running in parallel to the Dotonbori Canal.
As Minami’s center of dining and theater experience, you’ll find endless fun things to do in Dotonbori. You can even take a canal cruise. But even if you are just strolling around, hunting some iconic signs will be so worth it.
Some signs and billboards to spot are the Glico running man (dates back to 1935) and the Kani Doraku crab sign. Don’t miss the Ebisu Bridge, where you can get a good point of view of these signs. Dotonbori stays alive even in the wee hours.
2. Watch Osaka City Glimmer At Night From Abeno Harukas
Osaka City at night from Abeno Harukas | Image Courtesy of Mc681 / Wikimedia Commons
Opened in 2014, Abeno Harukas is the tallest building in Japan at 300 meters. Occupying the 58th to 60th floors (accessed via the 16th floor) is a viewing deck called “Harukas 300,” where you can see Osaka (and as far as Kobe City) in all its glory.
The 60th floor is the top floor giving you a full 360-degree view of the city. On the 58th floor is a fancy restaurant called “Sky Garden 300,” offering a romantic spot to view Osaka. Abeno Harukas also houses a shrine, a museum, a hotel, a vegetable garden, a department store, a few corporate offices, and some cafes and restaurants on the lower grounds.
Abeno Harukas is best visited right before sunset till it closes at 10 pm. The entrance fee is 1,500 yen.
3. Get Back in Time in Shinsekai
Shinsekai | Image Courtesy of Robby McCullough / Unsplash
Shinsekai (“new world”) is a pre-war district in downtown Osaka developed in the likeness of New York (south side) and Paris (north side). After World War 2, it was neglected and became one of the most undeveloped neighborhoods in the city.
In the 1980s, it went through a major facelift. Tsutenkaku Tower, a 103-meter high tower first constructed in 1912 after France’s Eiffel Tower, became its symbol. Fast forward to date, Shinsekai is one of the few larger areas in Osaka to feel old Japan. Shinsekai is known to be “dangerous” (in Japan’s standards), the neighborhood is a fairly safe place for local and foreign tourists alike.
4. Try Osaka’s Local Dishes
Takoyaki | Image Courtesy of yehnick / Pixabay
As the “Nation’s Kitchen,” you can’t let a day slip without trying some local dishes and live up to the “kuidaore” culture of Osaka, which means “eat till you drop.”
You can find local restaurants, food stalls, and food parks serving local foods pretty much anywhere. From Dotonbori to Kita to Osaka Bay, your options are endless, whether you are a budget traveler or a spender.
But what you shouldn’t miss are the most popular foods in Osaka. Wherever you go, be on the lookout for:
Takoyaki, a flour-and-egg-based dough balls filled with grilled octopus, green onion, and pickled ginger. Different sauces add different flavors to this street snack.
Okonomiyaki, a flour-and-egg-based pancake-like delicacy filled with shredded cabbage and a few other ingredients like squid, prawn, octopus, or any meat.
Kushikatsu, a deep-fried dish on skewers. It’s usually made from meat and vegetables.
5. Find Fresh Produce and Local Foods at Kuromon Market
Kuromon Ichiba Market | Image Courtesy of Stephen Kelly / Flickr
Seafood, vegetables, spices, meat, and local chefs — you can find all of them at Kuromon Ichiba, a covered wet market that stretches 600 meters parallel to Sakaisuji-dori Street in Minami.
For tourists who are looking to satiate their gastronomic cravings, food stalls at Kuromon Ichiba abound where you can eat different kinds of seafood cooked in varying styles as well as some local dishes like yakitori, takoyaki, and many other must-try foods in Osaka.
Kuromon Ichiba shops open daily from 8 am to 6 pm, depending on the store.
6. Eat Local Foods in Hozenji Yokocho Alley
Alley in Osaka | Image Courtesy of Satoshi Hirayama / Pexels
Just two blocks away from Dotonbori, Hozenji Yokocho is one of the best food places in Osaka to eat like a local.
Hozenji Yokocho is a narrow, flagstoned alleyway packed with a wide range of traditional restaurants, cafes, pubs, and food stalls on both sides. Best explored at night, Hozenji Yokocho offers affordable eats and drinks for tourists of all kinds.
Check out Kushikatsu Daruma, Katsudon Hozenji, and Hozenji Sanpei. You can also make a side trip to Hozenji Temple at the end of the alley.
7. Drink Local Craft Beer at Dotonbori Beer Factory
Craft beer | Image Courtesy of ThorstenF / Pixabay
Just one block over from an Ebisu police outpost is the only craft beer brewery in Dotonbori.
Dotonbori Beer Co. is one of the most popular local craft beer brands located in Osaka Shochikuza Theater. While you can access the factory through paid tours, there’s a basement restaurant next to it where you can eat local foods and eat freshly brewed beer.
Dotonbori Beer Factory opens daily from 11 am to 11 pm.
8. Shop Designer Goods at Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Arcade
Daimaru department store on Shinsaibashi | Image Courtesy of Kirakirameister / Wikimedia Commons
Shopping is one of the best things to do in Osaka, Japan. One that most tourists visit to shop is Minami’s bustling Shinsaibashi-suji Shopping Arcade, located two blocks away from Dotonbori.
This 600-meter long shopping arcade is home to a variety of high-end designer labels, trendy fashion shops, and department stores that offer tax-free goods and free airport delivery. Though it’s slowly becoming so modern, Shinsaibashi-suji still has some traditional shops for kimonos, tea, as well as local restaurants.
9. Find Hip and Trendy Shops on America Mura
Teens on Amerikamura | Image Courtesy of Piqsels
And just a couple of blocks away from Shinsaibashi-suji is America Mura (“America Village”), Osaka’s answer to Tokyo’s Takeshita Dori, a street famous for teenage culture Harajuku.
Also known as Ame-Mura, the street is packed with clothing shops, bars, cafes, specialty stores, and anything hip, young, and trendy. And it’s called America Mura not for nothing. Most shops along the street sell American goods.
10. Buy Souvenirs at Doguyasuji Shopping Arcade
Doguyasuji | Image Courtesy of BradBeattie / Wikimedia Commons
Doguyasuji Shopping Arcade is the best place in Osaka to find household goods.
Stretching 150 meters long, this shopping arcade is located literally on Kitchenware Street, only 5 minutes’ walk away from Namba subway station. Doguyasuji has been the go-to place among chefs and locals to find kitchenware, crockery materials, furniture items, and so many more practical goods — of all sizes.
Shopping at Doguyasuji is one of the best things to do in Osaka in October. If you come around early October, don’t miss this shopping arcade in time for the Doguyasuji Festival when big discounts are everywhere.
11. Hunt Down Tech and Anime Goods at Den Den Town
Den Den Town | Image Courtesy of Inoue-hiro / Wikimedia Commons
Exploring Den Den Town in Nipponbashi is one of the unique things to do in Osaka with kids. It’s the shopping center for anything technology, anime, and manga.
Occupying the streets of Sakaisuji and Ota road, Den Den Town is an electronics district that resembles Tokyo’s Akihabara in a lot of ways, except Den Den Town is more spacious and easier to navigate around. From video games to cameras to manga to toy figures, you can find them all here. Apart from electronics shops, you can also find several maid and cosplay cafes around where you can have an out of the ordinary dining experience.
12. Visit Old Shrines and Temples in Osaka
Shitennoji | Image Courtesy of 663highland / Wikimedia Commons
Osaka may not be as popular as Kyoto when it comes to temples and shrines, it definitely has some remarkable religious monuments you want to visit.
The oldest temple in Osaka and one of Japan’s oldest, Shitennoji was built in 593. It went through several fires but painstakingly rebuilt after each incident to preserve its original 6th-century design.
Shitennoji opens daily from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The entrance to the temple grounds is free.
The head of all Sumiyoshi shrines, Sumiyoshi Shrine is one of the oldest shrines in Japan founded in the 3rd century, even before Buddhism was introduced in the country. Its architecture boasts a purely Japanese style, without any influence from mainland Asia.
Sumiyoshi Taisha opens daily from 6 am to 5 pm. The entrance is free.
Namba Yasaka Shrine
With a gigantic lion head-shaped building, Namba Yasaka Shrine is one notable shrine just within the Namba district. Visiting the shrine is one of the best things to do in Osaka in March until May as it becomes more attractive and picture-perfect in the cherry blossom season.
Namba Yasaka Shrine is open 24 hours. The entrance is free of charge.
13. Discover Osaka’s Historial Gems at Various Museums
Instant Ramen Museum | Image Courtesy of Matt & Chris Pua / Unsplash
What better way to discover the city’s history than museums? Osaka boasts a wide variety of museums.
The National Museum of Art, Osaka
The National Museum of Art, Osaka is home to so many collections and exhibitions of art pieces both from local and international artists. It opens daily from 10 am to 5 pm. The entrance is 400 yen.
Instant Ramen Museum
Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum exhibits the history of instant noodles in honor of its creator, Momofuku Ando. It opens daily, except Tuesdays, from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm. The entrance is free.
Other must-visit museums in Osaka include Kamigata Ukiyoe Museum, Maishima Pottery Museum, Osaka Science Museum, Osaka Museum of History, Sewerage Science Museum, National Museum of Ethnology Osaka, and the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living.
14. Visit Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle | Image Courtesy of Sangyeon / Pixabay
Osaka Castle is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Osaka, Japan. Points of interests like Osaka Castle is easily one of the most striking structures in the city that you can’t take your eyes off for a while.
First constructed in 1583, Osaka Castle has been through a lot of damages caused by wars and a lightning strike. But reconstruction always followed to preserve its beauty and purpose. Today, Osaka Castle is one of the most visited tourist spots in Osaka.
Osaka Castle opens daily from 9 am to 5 pm. Admission is 600 yen.
15. Relax at Nakanoshima Park
Nakanoshima Park | Image Courtesy of Ritz Carlton
Relaxing and having a family picnic is one of the most worthwhile things to do in Osaka with kids.
We highly recommend doing so at Nakanoshima Park in Kita District, Osaka’s oldest built in 1891. It’s located in central Osaka, so it’s fairly accessible wherever you are in the city. Nakanoshima fell into oblivion and became the home of the homeless for so many years. But after a major rehabilitation effort, this picturesque green space has reclaimed its charm.
16. Visit Osaka Aquarium
Osaka Aquarium | Image Courtesy of Luca Mascaro / Flickr
Another perfect thing to do in Osaka with kids is visiting Osaka Aquarium, one of Japan’s biggest and most diverse aquariums.
Osaka Aquarium has 15 tanks, with each tank representing a specific region of the Pacific Rim. The 9-meter-deep Pacific Ocean tank at the center houses a whale shark, the aquarium’s main attraction. Osaka Aquarium is located in the Tempozan Harbor Village, one of the top things to do in Osaka Bay. It opens daily from 10 am to 8 pm. Admission is 2,300 yen.
17. Enjoy One of Japan’s 100 Most Scenic Sunsets at Nishiki Beach Park
Nishiki Beach Park | Image Courtesy of Kaizuka Running Club
If you are looking to visit Osaka in the summer, it can be humid. The perfect place to unwind is Nishiki Beach Park, a 10-minute walk away from Nishikinohama Station on the Nankai Main Line.
Nishiki Beach Park is best visited around mid-June to late-August when the striking green pine-clad areas and white beach come into full view. You can enjoy clamming, picnics, sunbathing, and watersports like jet skiing, riding water scooters, windsurfing, or boating. You can also enjoy sunsets by Osaka bay, one of the most scenic sunsets in Japan.
Be wary though: the place can get really crowded in the summertime.
18. Take a Break From Urban Madness to Minoo National Park
Minoo National Park | Image Courtesy of Go Imai / Wikimedia Commons]
A quick half-hour day trip from Osaka (via Hankyu Umeda station), Minoo National Park is worth visiting if you are looking to satisfy your nature-loving self.
Minoo Park boasts a towering waterfall, a scenic river, and a lush green landscape — perfect for taking a break from the urban madness. In autumn, when the leaves turn red/orange, visiting Minoo Park is one of the most unforgettable things to do in October, even in September and December. Minoo National Park opens daily. The entrance is free.
19. Climb Up Mount Ikoma and View Osaka in 360 Degrees
Osaka from Mount Ikuma | Image Courtesy of comachiangel / Wikimedia Commons
Another fantastic day trip from Osaka is Mount Ikoma, a 642-meter tall mountain in the Ikoma Mountains, which borders Nara and Osaka Prefectures.
Mount Ikoma is a pretty popular picnic spot for viewing Osaka City from afar. If you are bringing your family with you, visiting Mount Ikoma is one of the most family-friendly things to do in Osaka in summer when it’s not too cold. In spring, Mount Ikoma is even more generous with its striking cherry blossom trees all around. Mt. Ikoma opens 24 hours. Admission is free.
20. Cross a 200-Meter Suspension Bridge in Hoshida Park
[Hoshida Park | Image Courtesy of SuperTaiyaki / Flickr]
If you happen to be in Osaka in fall, one of the best things to do in Osaka in October or November is to visit Hoshida Park.
Located in Katano City, a 30-minute train ride away from downtown Osaka, Hoshida Park houses a wooden suspension bridge in the middle of this vast forest park spanning 280 meters long and suspended 50 meters above the ground.
While it’s best visited in autumn for the foliage transformation, you can come to Hoshida Park anytime for hiking, picnic, or just plain relaxing. Hoshida Park opens 24 hours with no admission fee.
That’s it for our list of the top things to do in Osaka, Japan. Osaka has thousands of worthwhile tourist attractions and activities. We hope this rundown gave you some to add to your Osaka itinerary. If you are looking for Osaka walking tours, don’t hesitate to join our free walking tours in Osaka.