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Plan Your Trip to Osaka: Best of Osaka Tourism

Explore Osaka

Called “the nation’s kitchen,” Osaka delivers a standout dining scene. Feast on street food and work your way through the city’s many “Bib Gourmand” restaurants—a Michelin award for spots that serve exceptional food at reasonable prices. Use food crawls to fuel your explorations. Go shopping in Minami, check out nightlife in the neon-lit extravaganza of Dotombori, join the theme park fun at Universal Studios Japan, then take a breather at Osaka Castle, with its peaceful gardens and exceptional city views. Osaka is also an ideal home base for exploring the Kansai region—Kyoto's World Heritage Sites and Nara's temples are about an hour by train.
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Essential Osaka

How to do Osaka in 3 days

Standup comedy, classic street foods, and a famous shopping street
Read on

My don't-miss experiences in Osaka

As a photojournalist, I can’t get enough of Osaka. I love how Japan’s third-largest city seamlessly blends the past and the present. Even if you’re not a professional photographer, it’s hard to take a bad shot of the cherry trees around Osaka Castle or the dazzling neon billboards reflected in Dotonbori Canal. Here are the experiences that really capture the city for me.
Coco Tran, Sacramento, CA
  • Osaka Castle
    You can’t visit Osaka without heading to Osaka Castle, the city’s most famous sight. Originally built in 1583—and rebuilt many times since then—this eight-story fortress captures the city's resilient spirit. Walking inside its towering stone walls immerses you in history, but hanging out with families on the sprawling lawn brings you back to the present. Plan your visit for April to get the perfect shot of the castle framed by hundreds of cherry trees.
  • Namba Yasaka Shrine
    With bulging eyes and gnashing fangs, the 39-foot-tall lion head at the centre of this unusual shrine is said to swallow evil spirits and bestow good luck. Spinning the stone wheel grants quirky fortunes, which you can take with you if the fortune is good and leave tied to a string if they are not. If your timing is right, you might catch a lively dance performance that offers a glimpse into Osaka’s vibrant culture.
  • Dotombori District
    Looking a little like a scene from Blade Runner, the Dotonbori District is dazzling after dark when its neon billboards line both sides of Dotonbori Canal. The iconic Glico Running Man—which debuted here back in 1935—makes for an essential photo-op. This entertainment district is the place to go for mouthwatering street eats like okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), but it’s also a big draw for its karaoke bars and nightclubs hidden down the alleyways.
  • teamLab Botanical Garden Osaka
    Stunning digital projections transform this lush botanical garden into an interactive art exhibit at night. You’ll wander around a lake, through fields, and along pathways leading through forests illuminated by otherworldly blooming flowers and lanterns floating towards dreamlike skies. The colour and intensity of the artworks are influenced by numerous factors, including where you happen to be standing at the moment, which makes the boundary between art and nature seem to dissolve.
  • Shinsekai
    No trip to Osaka is complete without taking a few photos of the delightfully retro neighbourhood of Shinsekai. As the sun sets, old-school billboards illuminate izakaya taverns, counter-service eateries, and karaoke bars packed with locals out for a night on the town. Grab some udon noodles with fried tofu from a street stall and roam the neighbourhood’s narrow alleyways. Make your way to the iconic Tsutenkaku Tower, whose colorfully lit observation platform offers stunning views.
  • Osaka Food Tour (13 Delicious Dishes at 5 Local Eateries)
    Led by locals, Osaka Food Tours takes to you the Kuromon Market and other destinations so that you can taste more than a dozen regional specialties from takoyaki (dumplings filled with bits of grilled octopus) to kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers of meats and vegetables). Osaka is widely known as “Japan’s Kitchen,” and your guides will explain how residents developed their obsession with food. This tour lets you taste dishes you might otherwise pass up.