Top 25 Things to do in Osaka

 In Kansai, Osaka, Travel

As Japan’s second-largest city, Osaka is one of the first places people recommend to visit when travelling to Japan. Most notably known for its shopping and cuisine, in Osaka, you will find incredible malls, large shopping streets (shōtengai), mouth-watering food hubs and excellent sake (or so I hear!)

While often compared to its larger sibling, Osaka is distinctly different to Tokyo in terms of culture, cuisine, language and style. Tokyo is an absolutely huge city with a very reserved population, a heavy pop-culture feel and an international focus. Comparatively, Osaka is a large city with a more chilled out, outgoing population, more authentic Japanese feel and a focus on offering the best of Japan. If you’re contemplating whether to visit one or the other, I recommend visiting both. While I personally prefer Tokyo, many friends of mine who have visited thought Osaka was far more enjoyable.

That being said, I absolutely loved the time I spent there, and I hope my recommendations below help you to enjoy your stay too!

So without further ado, here are my top 25 things to do in Osaka.


1. Take a food tour at Dotonbori

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Dotonbori

Dotonbori is arguably the most famous destination in Osaka; its most notable feature being the Glico running man sign located next to Dotonbori Canal. While not formally defined, the area comprises of Dotonbori Street and Canal, located just a 4 minute walk away from Namba station.

Dontonbori Street is lined with countless restaurants and bars serving some of the best food and sake Japan has to offer. The strip is a sensory overload, lit up by bright neon signs covering every inch of the surrounding buildings and made interesting from the quirky and unique shop front displays featuring giant crabs, octopuses, dragons, gyozas, melon pans and more.

While you are here, make sure to try Osaka’s local specialties, takoyaki, okonomiyaki, fugu, yakitori and kushikatsu. And for all my fellow dessert connoisseurs, there’s melon pan and brick toast. *drools*


2. Eat Osaka’s famous Takoyaki

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Takoyaki

Takoyaki (octopus balls) are one of the most famous street foods in Japan. Small pieces of octopus are placed in a special mould with red ginger, green onion and batter, and spun using two mental prongs (they look like thin, metal chopsticks) to form spheres about as big as a golf ball. They are then served in a boat-like container and topped with brown sauce, mayonnaise, bonito flakes and dry shredded seaweed.

As someone who doesn’t like octopus, I must admit that I hate takoyaki! Add the smell of the bonito flakes into the mix and it’s enough to make me run away screaming. My boyfriend however (and most of the population in general) LOVES takoyaki, and thinks it’s one of the most essential foods to try in Japan. As much as I question his taste buds, I have to agree. Watching the chefs prepare takoyaki is an experience in and of itself, and I’m a strong believer in trying new things (no matter how crazy it may seem!) And after all, isn’t that what travelling is for?

If you’re looking to give them a try, make sure to go to the famous Dotonbori Konamon Museum for some of the best takoyaki in Japan. With a huge octopus marking the entrance, it’s a hard one to miss!


3. Try Osaka style Okonomiyaki

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Okonomiyaki

Now here is an Osaka delicacy I can get behind! Okonomiyaki translates to “cooked how you like it” and is essentially a savoury pancake. There are two main styles of okonomiyaki in Japan; the Osaka style and the Hiroshima style. The main difference is in how the dish is prepared. In Osaka, the ingredients are chopped up and mixed together before being grilled on a hot plate, similar to how you would prepare an omelette or scrambled eggs. Hiroshima style is made by layering each of the ingredients one after the other and is pushed down using spatulas in order to create the same flat, circular shape. In Osaka, okonomiyaki can be served with or without yakisoba noodles, while in Hiroshima, okonomiyaki are prepared with your choice of soba or udon noodles (soba is more popular option).

Again, it’s an experience in and of itself to see how okonomiyaki is prepared. If you’re lucky, you’ll be placed at the hot plate bar near the chefs so you can watch them cook the dish before your eyes. Most okonomiyaki is served with pork, beef, seafood or a mix of all three, so it’s worthwhile sticking to a more touristy area if you are a picky eater and require an English menu to order. If that’s not an option, another useful hack is to look up their menu on Google chrome, translate their online menu to English and then back to Japanese, and point to the Japanese text on your phone when ordering. This hack has saved me a few times in some smaller eateries!


4. Shop till you drop at Shinsaibashi shopping arcade

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Shinsaibashi-suji

Located just a four-minute walk north of Dotonbori is Shinsaibashi shopping arcade. This 600-metre indoor shōtengai (shopping street) is one of the most popular shopping areas in Osaka and houses an extensive range of retailers from kimono stores, to toy stores, fast food and candy stores, Western clothing stores, fashion boutiques, jewellers and more.

No matter if you love high fashion, streetwear, quirky characters, kawaii goods, beautiful sweets or traditional clothing and souvenirs, Shinsaibashi will have something for you. You will have an incredible time exploring the different stores and discovering the quirky and amazing things they have to offer.

The best part is, Shinsaibashi includes a tax-free booth where you will be able to claim back all the tax you paid by showing your receipts and your passport.


5. Visit the 1950s era entertainment district, Shensekai and its centre, Tsutenkaku Tower

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Shinsekai

Originally opened in 1912, Shinsekai (meaning New World) is an entertainment district modelled after Paris and New York. At the time, the strip was a modern darling and became a highly popular tourist destination shortly after opening. The area remained popular until the devastation of World War II and was subsequently left abandoned until the Japanese government brought it back to life during the 1950s. Today, Shinsekai looks very much the same as it did then, acting as a quirky monument to the aesthetic of the time.

The strip comprises of many souvenir stores, food stalls, restaurants, bars, and gachapon machines and features similar large animal and food figures as Dotonbori. Marking the center of the strip is Tsutenkaku Tower, a key icon of Shinsekai inspired by the Eiffel Tower. I suggest visiting Shinsekai an hour or two before sunset so you can stroll through at your leisure before grabbing dinner and marveling at the colourful lights that illuminate the tower and surrounding buildings.


6. Soak in baths from around the globe at Spa World

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Spa World

At the very end of Shinsekai, you will find Spa World, one of my favourite places to visit in Osaka. This onsen theme park offers visitors a distinctly unique bathing experience (even by Japanese standards!), taking inspiration from Shinsekai’s original designers to provide guests with a range of baths, saunas and hot tubs themed after some of the most famous places in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

As you walk in, purchase a ticket from the vending machines and pass through the gates. An employee will explain to you how the park works (in English) and explain how to purchase items within the park using your wrist band/locker key. On the same floor you can enjoy a range of arcade games, gachapon machines and purikura booths, whilst also browsing the gift shop for pool-related items, souvenirs and snacks. Other floors feature massage areas, a lounge/TV area, kids play areas, restaurants, a gym, salon and pool.

The themed onsens are broken up into two areas; the European Zone and the Asian Zone and alternate monthly for male/female access. I was lucky enough to experience the European Zone, which was a beautiful homage to many famous landmarks such as the Trevi Fountain, Mouth of Truth, and the Parthenon. It was easy to spend hours soaking the many baths in this area, my personal favourites being the cold baths (it was great to have a break from all the 40 degree ones!) and the floral-scented bath – a limited-time offering where the bath was scented with a flower that represented the corresponding season for each month of that year. I visited when the rose scent was being used and it was absolutely beautiful.

If you are a beginner to Japanese onsens, please note that you are required to be fully nude in order to use the baths and must not have any tattoos or skin ailments. If you wish to use the onsens and the pool, there are designated areas where you will be able to change. You must fully clean your body and hair before entering the baths, however, this is not required when entering the pools. Spa World is open for just over 22 hours per day, with entry covering your stay until 8.45am each morning. Access to some facilities requires an additional fee, which you can find out more about on their website.


7. Discover the history of the feudal lords at Osaka Castle

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Osaka Castle

If you’re looking for a bit of tradition in Osaka, then the city’s magnificent castle should be your first stop. Located close to Osaka Business Park, you will immediately be struck by the almost amusing contrast of this giant, regal stronghold sitting in the middle of a concrete jungle. The castle not only has a large moat surrounding the grounds, but gorgeous gardens, imposing stone walls, historic statues and monuments, turrets, halls, shrines and more. The combined beauty of the area makes Osaka Castle one of the most popular places in the city for hanami (cherry blossom viewing parties) and to see koyo (red autumn leaves).

Construction started on the main tower of Osaka Castle in 1583 and was finished in 1585. It was the largest castle of the time. In 1620, the castle was destroyed, starting a long line of destruction, rebuilds and refurbishment, eventually leading to a full rebuild in 1931 to become the castle we see today. Other, smaller monuments that surround the castle have also been rebuilt in recent years, both repairing the damage resulting from WWII and restoring it to what it once was after the national government deemed the castle and its grounds a Special Historic Site in 1955.

Unfortunately, the interior of Osaka castle does not replicate the original design, instead acting as a museum detailing the 400+ year history of the building over its 8 floors. The top floor acts as an observatory to view the spectacular grounds and the city beyond.


8. Disappear into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Universal Studios

Universal Studios Osaka is the Japanese edition of one of the most famous theme park groups in the world. An absolute must-see for the pop-culture fan, the park features two main themed areas, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal Wonderland (meant for small children), as well as numerous rides and attractions branded by fan favourites; Despicable Me, Spider-Man, Jurassic Park, Jaws, Sesame Street, Snoopy and Hello Kitty.

The Wizarding World is undoubtedly the crown jewel of Universal Japan, as well as the only place outside of the USA where you can visit the attraction. As the most successful Warner Brothers franchise, you can see that they have spared no expense when it came to recreating the Harry Potter atmosphere in their parks. When you’re walking down Diagon Alley, it is easy to get swept up in the magic of the place as you purchase a wand from Ollivanders, drink Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks, stock up on sweets at Honeydukes, view the pranks at Zonko’s Joke Shop and take a photo with the Hogwarts Express.

And let’s not forget that you will get to experience Hogwarts itself, witnessing the breathtaking castle from the outside before taking the castle walk through the same corridors and classrooms Harry, Ron and Hermione walked through all those years ago. At the end of the tour is the best ride I have ever been on, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. As it turns out, a lot of people agree. It has been named the world’s number one ride five years in a row.

Keep an eye on Universal Japan’s website for special events, as they have been featuring some of Japan’s most famous anime properties for a limited time, such as Detective Conan, Sailor Moon, Attack on Titan, Godzilla, Evangelion, One Piece and Lupin the Third.


9. Make your own cup noodles at the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum

For all the foodies out there, you will be excited to know that you can not only eat the best food in Japan while in Osaka, but you can also make from scratch one of the most iconic foods to come out of Japan; cup noodles. Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum is part museum, part ramen factory, part interactive cup noodle experience, part cup noodle dining hall, or in short, the cup noodle lover’s haven. The museum recounts the life of instant ramen inventor, Momofuku Ando, as well as its growth in popularity in Japan and worldwide.

As part of the experience, you will be able to hand-make the original chicken ramen from scratch, preparing and seasoning the wheat flour before drying it with Ando’s special flash-frying technique. To complete the experience, you will be able to design your own unique cup noodle packaging and fill it with your favourite instant ramen flavour and toppings.

The museum is located a bit out of the way compared to other attractions in Osaka. From Umeda Station (about a 7-minute walk from Osaka station), take a 20-minute train ride to Ikeda Station in northern Osaka. From the station, the museum is a short 5-minute walk. If you’re looking for something to do on the way back to the city, I recommend Expo’70 Commemorative Park, the Asahi Beer Factory, or the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum.


10. Eat fresh seafood at Kuromon Ichiba Market

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Kuromon Ichiba

Kuromon Ichiba (black gate market) is a seafood and fresh produce market known as “Osaka’s kitchen”. Frequented by chefs, locals and tourists alike, the market is a bustling strip of 150 stores, ranging from food stalls, supermarkets and high end produce stores to tea stores, clothing stores and souvenir stores.

It’s tough choosing what foods to try in the market, so if you can, try to get a taste of some grilled scallops, tuna, crab, tempura or wagyu beef. Each stall offers different kinds of dishes, from full meals to snack-sized freshly grilled snacks for under ¥800 (AUD $10). Ordering the food can be a fascinating experience all on its own, as the merchants sometimes wash, cook and serve as you watch, giving you lunch hand a show!

Please note, that in Japan it is rude to eat while you walk. If you do order something as you go, make sure to stand or sit to the side (if possible) and finish your food before you continue on.


11. Stock up on figurines, manga and video game merchandise at Den Den Town

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Den Den Town

Comparable to Tokyo’s Akihabara, Den Den Town, or Nipponbashi, is the electronics, gaming and anime/manga hub of Osaka. Running along Sakaisuji Avenue and Ota Road between Nipponbashi Station and Ebisucho Station, Den Den Town is filled with electronics stores, manga and anime stores, maid cafes, music stores, merchandise and figurine stores, cosplay costume stores and retro gaming stores.

You will be spoilt for choice with otaku goodness as you make your way down the strip. Not only does Den Den Town include some of the larger electronic and manga stores, such as Bic Camera, Joshin Super Kids Land, Yellow Submarine and Animate, but also houses small niche and hobby stores to find even the most obscure anime merch. No matter what your preferences in anime, manga, gaming or electronics, odds are, you’ll find it in Den Den Town.


12. Experience a kabuki performance at Shochikuza Theatre

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Shochikuza Theatre

Kabuki theatre is one of Japan’s most prominent performance art styles, originating during the Edo period in the early 17th century. Kabuki was the first notable form of entertainment made for the common people in Japan, resulting in its more comedic, informal style. At the beginning, kabuki was enacted by female performers, however, their more sensual dance style and engagement in prostitution led the government to ban women from performing. To combat this law, young boys dressed up as women to perform kabuki, but again, the government put a stop to this practice. Eventually, kabuki plays were only performed by male actors; a practice that remains today.

Kabuki plays are quite diverse in their theme and subject matter, from grand wars to tragic love stories (think Japanese Shakespeare). The performers sing, dance, act and mime, donning elaborate costumes, bright white makeup and detailed props while on an equally embellished stage. It is normal for kabuki performers to talk to the audience, and for the audience to respond by calling out the names of their favourite actors, so don’t be alarmed if everyone around you starts yelling out during the play!

Unfortunately, Shochikuza Theatre does not provide English audio guides for their performances, so it is best if you read up on the storyline of your particular play before attending the performance. The theatre also hosts a variety of other performances, so make sure the one you are attending is kabuki. Just look for the actors in full white paint!


13. Watch a traditional puppet performance at The National Bunraku Theatre

Top Things to Do in Osaka: National Bunraku Theatre

Bunraku is a traditional puppetry performance art originating in Osaka in the 17th century. Similar to kabuki, the puppeteers perform on elaborately decorated stages and are accompanied by musicians playing traditional Japanese three-stringed guitars (shamisen) whilst chanting a dramatic tale. Performances are held five times a year for two-week stints, usually in January, April, June, July and November.

As one of Japan’s most prominent traditional stage arts, bunraku is an integral part of Japanese history and has been a part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list since 2003. Important, and rare, bunraku performances are not commonly seen throughout Japan, making the National Bunraku Theatre not only the best place to see this performance, but also the primary theatre responsible for preserving and sharing this art form today.

The theatre is very tourist-friendly, providing programs, audio guides and introductory courses in multiple languages, including English. While the audio guide is not essential to be able to enjoy the performance, it does provide useful contextual information about the story and the meaning behind the set pieces, costumes and music.


14. Shop for souvenirs at Tenjinbashisuji Shopping Arcade

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Tenjinbashi-suji

Another shōtengai (shopping street) for this list! While they are a common feature of most of Japan’s main cities, Osaka is the only place I have seen more than one shōtengai worth visiting. Tenjinbashisuji is the longest shopping street in Japan, spanning 2.6km from north to south. The stores along the arcade cover pretty much anything your heart could desire, including souvenirs, omiyage goods (food souvenirs), clothing, accessories, kimonos, hostels, hotels, cafes, restaurants, bars, dessert stands, beverage stands, spiritual goods, books, cutlery, character goods, gaming arcades and so much more.

Tenjinbashisuji is quite overwhelming. It takes about 40 minutes to walk the 7 blocks from beginning to end, so you may only want to explore parts of it in order to maintain a pleasant experience. If you need a break, the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living is close to the northern half of the arcade, while Osaka Temmangu Shrine is close to the southern half.


15. Visit Shitennoji, the oldest temple in Japan

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Shitennoji Temple

At over 1,400 years old, Shitennoji is officially known as the oldest temple in Japan. Falling prey to fires, wars, typhoons, and other disasters, the temple has been destroyed and rebuilt countless times over the years, with the structures we see today originating in the 1940s, 60s and 70s. These buildings are a faithful reproduction of the very first iteration to preserve its history and the culturally significant “Shitennoji-style temple arrangement”. This arrangement comprises of all buildings situated directly in line with each other, arranged from south to north. The buildings, including Chumon Middle Gate, the Five-Storied Pagoda, the Main Hall, and the Lecture Hall, make up the central temple, with the grounds spanning beyond this to include a variety of other cultural sites, such as the treasure hall and cemetery.

Entrance to this temple is quite reasonable considering its age, cultural significance and size. For one adult, it is 300 yen (approx. AUD $4) to visit the central temple, 300 yen to enter the garden and 500 yen (approx. AUD $7) to enter the treasure hall. You can see more pricing information on their website.


16. Embrace Japanese-American street style at Amerika-Mura

Top Things to Do in Osaka: America-mura

Another personal favourite, America-Mura is a shopping area located to the west of Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade in the streets surrounding Mitsu Park. The stores in this area offer a unique range of American-inspired, Asian made clothing, hats, shoes and accessories. If you love street style, then America-Mura is an absolute dream come true.

I often struggled with these stores as they mostly catered to their Asian audience. The large crop tops were still a bit too small for me as they were comparable to an Australian size small or extra small. That being said, if you are a guy, looking for something baggier, or even out for some awesome accessories, this is still a worthwhile place to visit. I ended up purchasing a limited edition cherry blossom baseball cap from there and had the best time browsing the stores and laughing at all of the cringe-worthy and often grammatically incorrect English prints on their merchandise.


P.S. For all my dessert lovers, make sure to check out Eggs n’ Things nearby!


18. Shop ‘till you drop at HEP FIVE

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Hep Five

HEP FIVE is a shopping centre located right next to Osaka and Umeda stations. Featuring trendy stores and an eye-grabbing ferris wheel on the top floor, HEP FIVE is a quirky, fun way to spend your day. Featuring a mix of Western and Eastern favourites like Starbucks, Jump Shop (anime merchandise store), Adidas and the Disney Store, HEP FIVE has plenty to offer from kawaii fashion and accessories, KPOP merchandise and souvenirs, to arcades, VR zones and cafés.

Japan boasts some incredible franchise malls (e.g. AEON and PARCO), but what makes HEP FIVE so notable is its unique style, exciting range of stores and stunning views over Osaka’s city centre. And if you’re still itching for more after exploring their 11 floors, head over to Osaka Station City, LUCUA Osaka and the Grand Front Osaka for all the retail therapy your heart could desire.


18. Eat some lazy eggs at the Gudetama Café

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Gudetama Cafe

Dining at a character café is an absolute must for every otaku (tech/pop culture nerd). Japan offers a range of themed experiences from Sailor Moon, Hello Kitty, and Moomin, to Pokémon, One Piece and of course, Gudetama. Located on the 7th floor of HEP FIVE, the Gudetama Café is the perfect place to laze about with your favourite lazy egg while enjoying delicious themed foods and beverages. The café serves Japanese style breakfast and lunches, pancakes and other kawaii egg-related desserts, coffee, tea and dessert beverages all adorned in one way or another with the many expressions of Gudetama. If you’re still looking for more after your meal, you can also peruse the Gudetama themed merchandise located next to the cashier.

Food menus are usually quite limited at character cafes, and the prices are usually a tad more expensive than normal restaurants due to the elevated experience. I recommend looking up the menu for any character café you plan to visit to ensure their offering matches your dietary preferences.

19. Treat yourself with a Pablo cheese tart (or 10!)

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Pablo Cheese Tarts

I’ve eaten a LOT of dessert in Japan, and there’s not much on my list of favourites that can rival the deliciousness of the Pablo Cheese Tart. Their stores offer a wide range of desserts, including large, medium and mini versions of their signature tart, apple cinnamon pies, biscuits, and cookies while also offering exclusive flavours that pay homage to the local specialties of their prefecture. For example, Pablo stores in Okinawa offer a range of purple sweet potato cheese tarts and pies, while all of their Kanto (Tokyo, Chiba, Gunma, Saitama, Kanagawa, Tochigi and Ibaraki) stores serve earl grey flavoured mini-tarts.

I recommend visiting a Pablo Mini specialty store to purchase a 6 pack of mini-tarts from their full range of flavours. Trying the plain version is an absolute must, and I also recommend their strawberry, chocolate, and matcha flavours. If they aren’t your thing, head to any Pablo store (such as the one right next to HEP FIVE) where you will be able to purchase mini, medium or large versions of their signature tart as well as their pies, cookies and beverages.

The best part is that they have locations all over the country (probably one of the most widely spread franchises I saw), so you will have plenty of chances to enjoy these incredible desserts during your travels.


20. Check out the shopping at Osaka Station City

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Osaka Station City

Osaka Station City is a huge shopping complex surrounding the north and south areas of Osaka Station. The north section comprises of LUCUA and LUCUA 1100 department stores, a cinema, restaurants, a gym, travel agents, convenience stores, gift shops, cafes and more, while the south section comprises of the Daimaru department store (one of the most famous and widespread department stores in Japan), the Pokémon Center, Tokyo Hands, a hotel, health clinic, restaurants and bars.

The sheer size of Osaka Station City is a bit overwhelming in and of itself, not to mention the number of commuters making their way in and out of the building, as well as the proximity of so many other large department stores right nearby. I got a bit lost in there and was quite frustrated at Google Maps for taking me in weird directions that didn’t lead to my destinations. I recommend using a floor guide rather than your maps app to make your way around, especially since the station splits the buildings in two, making it even more difficult to make it from the north building to the south building without going through the train ticket gates.

If you haven’t been to one already, I especially recommend visiting Tokyu Hands and the food section of the Daimaru department store. Tokyu Hands is pretty much a more upmarket version of Daiso, offering a mind-boggling range of high-quality homewares, gifts, luggage, toys, and more. As an art student, I went especially crazy picking up some of their professional quality paints. As for the Daimaru food section, you will be delighted to find a huge range of deli-like foods, from salads and pasta dishes, to fried meat and vegetables, cakes, chocolates, fruit (the famous expensive kind!), and much more, all in a way that is unique to this specific kind of food hall (called a depachika).


21. Experience the waffle cone at Asian Rad Afters

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Asian Rad Afters

Waffle cones are a dessert trend that’s become super popular in Asia over recent years, however, it is yet to hit Japan on a large scale. Asian Rad Afters is the only restaurant I have found so far that offers this specific dessert, and wow, was it worth the visit. The store is a bit out of the way compared to other sites in Osaka, so I suggest going to visit if you plan on exploring America-Mura or Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade (although Shinsaibashi has its own list of desserts on offer!)

While I will always love Japanese crepes, this waffle cone was really something special. Asian Rad Afters only offered a handful of flavours (compared to the million offered by crepe stores), but I don’t feel like I was any worse off. The shop cycles through many different flavour and topping combos, so you’re sure to find something you’ll like when you go. Hot tip – check out their website or Instagram to see their latest offerings.


22. Shop for even more souvenirs at Sennnichimae Doguyasuji shopping arcade

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Sennnichimae Doguya-suji

I know what you’re thinking. “Really Lauren? Another shopping street??” I understand but please, hear me out. While the other two mentioned in this post are general in nature, Sennnichimae Doguyasuji shopping arcade focuses on everything your kitchen would ever need. Need some professional knives? No worries. Want some fancy chopsticks? Absolutely. Want some professional quality cooking tools? They have it all!

I definitely recommend visiting “Kitchenware Street” to shop for items that usually appear as restaurant décor, including the plastic food you find at the front of most restaurants, the special Japanese split curtains, paper lanterns, restaurant signs, and fake cherry blossoms. They’ll certainly make for a more interesting souvenir!

And of course, a shopping arcade all about your kitchen would be incomplete without the actual food. Sennnichimae Doguyasuji also includes many restaurants and bars serving absolutely incredible Japanese food at the same high quality that you’ve come to expect from Osaka as a whole. Some stores even offer cooking demonstrations and cooking classes. If you’re visiting Osaka in October, try to plan your visit for the 9th, as the Doguyasuji Festival brings you slashed prices, more activities and even more food to enjoy.


23. Catch a flick at TOHO Cinemas Namba

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Toho Cinemas

If you happen to be in Japan while a movie you have been dying to see is released, you’ll be happy to know that going to the movies in Japan is an absolute joy, even if you don’t speak a word of Japanese. All major western movies that are released in Japan play with either subtitles or dubs, so you are still able to see the movie as it is played at home. The only downside is the text on the screen, but I found that I hardly noticed them due to the huge screens.

TOHO Cinemas and AEON Cinemas are the two main companies that operate Japanese cinemas, so no matter what major city you are in, you will be able to go to one of the two. The quality of both, in my opinion, are on par with EVENT Cinemas in Australia, with their theatres and screen sizes similar to an Australian VMAX experience. While these cinemas contain everything you expect, such as a snack bar, quirky cutouts advertising upcoming movies and huge screens that play the latest trailers, my favourite part of going to the movies in Japan was shopping in the merchandise stores connected to the candy bar areas that sold DVDs, BluRays and themed merchandise for the movies being currently played. The nerd in me delighted in the amount of Spider-Man and Aladdin themed items that were for sale, and I found myself wishing I’d been in Japan when Beauty in the Beast was in theatres in 2017!

Buying the tickets online can be a bit tricky, however, I was able to figure it out for TOHO Cinemas. I can’t say the same for AEON and was a bit stuck when I lined up to purchase tickets from a machine in all Japanese. Thankfully, I was able to purchase my tickets through the salesperson at the candy bar. We spoke in very simple English but got there in the end without too much being lost in translation!


24. See Osaka in all its glory at Umeda Sky Building

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Umeda Sky Building

The Umeda Sky Building is a uniquely constructed skyscraper comprising of eastern and western towers that meet at the top of the building in a circular structure known as the Floating Garden Observatory. Standing at 173 meters, this observatory does not have any plants or trees but offers a spectacular 360-degree view of Osaka’s city centre.

If you’re not keen on heights, the building itself can be enjoyed simply as an architectural marvel and can be seen while you shop close by at Osaka Station City or while dining at the Westin Osaka’s lobby lounge. You’ll also be able to enjoy the Westin’s stunning Japanese garden at the front of the hotel and stop into Mazda’s brand space to ogle at a couple of their latest cars. Don’t worry about exploring the other floors – apart from the restaurants in the basement and the movie theatre, most of the building is comprised of office spaces and meeting rooms.


25. Take a break from the city at Osaka Expo ‘70 Park

Top Things to Do in Osaka: Expo '70 Park

If you’re looking for a relaxing day outside of the hustle and bustle of the city, Osaka Expo ‘70 Park is the perfect place to be. Located just 30 minutes north of Osaka Station, the enormous park includes sporting stadiums and courts, stunning Japanese gardens, spacious fields, playgrounds, BBQ areas, museums, forests, ponds, and flower gardens, as well as a tea house, restaurant, cafe, hotel, sento, and an observation tower.

If you’re wanting to spend a day at the park, I recommend packing a picnic and renting bikes from the main gate area so you can explore at your leisure before settling down for lunch at your favourite scenic spot. Make sure to also check out the pedal boats at the Dream Pond so you can casually make your way around the pond while soaking in the scenery and enjoying the wonderful outdoors.

What are your favourite things to do in Osaka? Have you visited any of the places I’ve mentioned? Make sure you let me know in the comments below!


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