Things to do in Osaka

Located at the mouth of the Yodo River on Osaka Bay, Osaka is Japan's third largest populated city after Tokyo and Yokohama, so there’s plenty to see and do here. Historically the commercial centre of Japan, Osaka is still a vital part of the Japanese economy (read: shopping and eating). The city was once referred to as the ‘nation's kitchen’ in feudal Edo times because it was the centre of trading for rice. Osaka has continued its food culture success; foodies will find gratification in Osaka – a city famous for its love affair with food. Food critic François Simon of Le Figaro is quoted to have named Osaka as being the food capital of the world. The regional cuisine includes okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake), takoyaki (octopus dumplings) as well as the traditional oshi zushi (pressed sushi).

To orient yourself when exploring the city, central Osaka is divided into major suburbs; Kita to the north and Minami to the south, and they both border the major thoroughfare, Midōsuji. Kita covers the area surrounding the business and retail district of Umeda and Minami is home to the Namba, Shinsaibashi, and Dōtonbori shopping districts. Namba is the main shopping, sightseeing and restaurant area and you’ll find the entertainment district around Dōtonbori Bridge with its famous giant mechanical crab, Triangle Park, and Amerika-mura (America Village) – where Osaka’s youth come to shop. You might think Tokyo is the only place to shop when in Japan, but save some of your spending money for the Osaka shopping malls too. Head to Den Den Town for electronics and manga/anime, if it’s a camera you’re after head to giant Yodobashi Camera store in the Umeda district.

It’s not all food and fashion in Osaka – for your cultural dose head to The National Museum of Art and check out their extensive post-war era collection. Next door, Osaka Science Museum spans over a 5-storey building with a planetarium and an IMAX theatre. Tip: on the 13th floor of the Osaka Museum of History you’ll get a great a view of Osaka Castle.

Want more? Here’s our fave things to see and do in Osaka.

Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is one of Japan's most famous buildings. The castle is of particular importance because it played a major role in the unification of Japan during the 16th century, not to mention its stunning good looks.

Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan

Located in Osaka, it's the largest and arguably the best aquarium in the world with an epic display of marine life across 15 tanks and well worth a visit to spy life under the sea.

Umeda Sky Building

Umeda Sky Building is a spectacular 173-metre tall skyscraper in the Kita district of Osaka, near Osaka and Umeda Stations, that’s sometimes referred to as ‘New Umeda City’.

Amerika-mura

Amerika-mura (American Village), a kooky retail and entertainment area in the Minami district of Osaka, is a popular expat haunt filled with Western retail stores, bars and nightclubs.

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan opened in Osaka in 2001 and has fast become one of the most popular theme parks in the world. Head here for a taste of Hollywood with movie-themed rides and more.

Nagai Stadium

The homeground of J. League club Cerezo Osaka, Nagai Stadium is a massive sporting arena in Osaka that hosts athletics and football events and seats a whopping 50,000 people.