Osaka, for one, has never really earned enough recognition to be placed in the esteemed Japan bucket list of most tourists. Tokyo has that pulsating megalopolis vibe, while Kyoto romances with its natural beauty and antiquity. Osaka, with its nondescript skyline, somehow lacks that certain pull factor that easily attracts tourists in droves. So why come to Osaka at all? For the following top attractions, that’s why!
#HHWT Tip: Want to get your sightseeing done without spending a fortune on transport and entry tickets? Get an Osaka Amazing Pass to gain access to 30 of Osaka’s iconic attractions, and unlimited use of the subway, tramway, and bus system within the city!
1. Universal Studios Japan
Well, the thought of fighting crime alongside Spiderman, or to chase after the elusive Golden Snitch with Harry Potter and friends are enough reasons for us to hop on the next flight to Osaka, we tell ya!
In fact, Universal Studios Japan, the most-visited theme park in Japan after Tokyo Disney resort – is probably the TOP-most reason why tourists step foot in Osaka. There are eight unique zones here such as Hollywood, New York, San Francisco, Amity Village and the not-to-be-missed-for-anything-on-Earth The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – all carefully themed to allow for a completely immersive movie-magic experience.
Credit: Laura Tomàs Avellana on Flickr
The theme park offers exciting rides ranging from child-friendly carousels to hair-raising roller coasters and simulators that bring you right smack into your favourite blockbuster movie such as JAWS, Jurassic Park, Back to the Future and Terminator 2.
Do you have toddlers that aren’t old enough to ride those awesome rides? No biggie. Get them to take snapshots with popular characters like Snoopy, Hello Kitty and the cast from Sesame Street. Or take your pick from various stage and street shows such as the Universal Monsters Live Rock and Roll Show.
When dusk approaches, don’t forget to book a prime spot for the nightly Magical Starlight Parade showcasing illuminated floats based on classic fairytales!
#HHWT Tip: Go EXPRESS for less STRESS! Get the express pass to beat the crazy queues and take the rides in no time! Also, do note that there is timed-entry for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during peak times. You can get your timed-entry tickets on the day of visit or in advanced by purchasing the express pass.
Bonus: Psst, you can book the express pass in advance on Klook to get jump ahead of the lines for Spider-Man, Minion Mayhem or The Flying Dinosaur & more!
Address: 2 Chome-1-33 Sakurajima, Konohana-ku, Ōsaka-shi, Ōsaka-fu 554-0031, Japan
Opening times: Check with the website as opening times vary.
|1-day studio pass||7600 yen
(12yrs and over)
(65yrs or over)
|2-Day studio pass||12,800 yen
(12yrs and over)
Book your Universal Studios Japan tickets on Klook!
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2. Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan
Where else can you go on a journey around the “Ring of Fire” while at the same time learn more about marine life that flourish along the Pacific Rim? Only at the Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan!
Credit: pelican on Flickr
What’s unique here is the spiral ramp that spans across several floors, bringing you on an epic odyssey into the deep, from terrestrial habitats to the sea and right down to the ocean floor! From the Aleutian Islands to the Great Barrier Reef to the Japan Deep – these are just a few of the 16 main exhibits that you will get to explore.
Credit: travellingfuriously on Instagram
The sheer size of the aquarium alone will leave you awestruck. It comprises of 27 tanks holding a total volume of about 10,000 tonnes of water! The largest tank, and the centrepiece of the aquarium, is the Pacific Ocean exhibit. At 9 metres deep and containing 5,400m3 of water, it’s no surprise that the tank can easily house a whale shark – the star attraction at the Kaiyukan!
Credit: Geoff Stearns on Flickr
#HHWT Tip: If you are looking for a good bargain, then get the Osaka Kaiyu Ticket! It’s a one-day pass that combines entry to the aquarium as well as unlimited rides on the subway and buses! The pass can be easily bought at any subway station.
Address: 1 Chome-1-10 Kaigandori, Minato Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 552-0022, Japan
Opening times: 10 am to 8pm (last entry is an hour before closing time) *Opening hours vary by season, so do check their website!
Young Child (4-6 yrs)
|Child (7-15 yrs)||
Adult (16 and over)
3. Osaka Castle
Osaka Castle, one of the must-see attractions in Osaka, is perhaps emblematic of the resilience of the Japanese. Originally built in 1583 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi as a show of power, the castle was besieged and destroyed by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1615.
Credit: foooomio on Flickr
Despite being rebuilt, it was unfortunately struck by lightning a few years later, and the remains subsequently burned down in a fire in 1868, just before the Meiji Restoration. After a major overhaul in 1997, Osaka Castle today is an outstanding concrete reconstruction of the original version, albeit more modern-looking.
The main donjon or castle keep consists of five storeys on the outside set atop a tall, imposing stone base, while the interior is divided into eight storeys that also houses a museum. To avoid breaking into a sweat, step into the elevator which will whisk you up to the 8th floor for panoramic views of the city. Then, work your way down to the lower floors where you can admire a curated selection of artifacts related to Hideyoshi, and learn more about the castle’s turbulent past.
Credit: Tasayu Tasnaphun on Flickr
#HHWT Tip: If you can, time your visit to coincide with the cherry-blossom period. The sprawling castle grounds are popular spots for hanami (cherry blossom viewing) with the locals!
Address: 1-1 Osakajo, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 540-0002, Japan
Opening times: 9am-5pm (last entry 4.30pm), closed 28th Dec to 1st Jan
Ticket prices: 600 yen (adults), free for visitors aged 15 or younger
4. Umeda Sky Building
Fancy taking a see-through escalator suspended 40 floors above ground? If you have no fear of heights, then this attraction is for you! An instantly recognisable landmark in Umeda, the Umeda Sky Building is an architectural marvel that has been called “The Future L’Arc De Triomphe”.
Credit: Nicholas Chou on Flickr
The tall skyscraper consists of two towers joined at the very top by a doughnut-shaped platform named The Floating Garden Observatory. Have a taste of what it’s like to float in the sky by taking the 40-metre, glass-encased escalator from the 39th floor to the open-air observatory.
Credit: floss.yen on Instagram
Then, brave the strong winds 173m above ground at the “Lumi Sky Walk” where you get an incredible 360-degree view of Osaka and the port area, and on a clear day, all the way to Awaji Island! If you don’t suffer from vertigo, take a glimpse through the hole in the centre for a thrilling, unblocked view of the ground far below.
Credit: dalemunchkiin on Instagram
When night falls, the “Lumi Sky Walk” sets a romantic mood by transforming into a celestial spectacle where multi-coloured LEDs mimic a starry sky path. If you are with your significant other, the Oath Fence is where you can attach Heart Locks that can be purchased at a kiosk on the 40th floor.
Address: 1-1-88 Oyodonaka, Kita Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 531-6039, Japan
Opening times: 10am to 10.30pm daily
Ticket prices: 700 yen (adults), 300 yen (child)
Dotombori is Osaka’s liveliest entertainment district filled chock-a-block with shopping arcades and restaurants.
The lane runs parallel to a canal of the same name, and is best seen at night when the large neon-lit billboards and mechanised signs come alive in a dazzling nightscape.
Credit: Marco Crupi on Flickr
Meanwhile, don’t forget to make a pit-stop at Ebisu-bashi – the main footbridge over the canal – to take your own selfies with the famous Glico Man billboard!
Address: Dotonbori, Chuo Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 542-0071, Japan
Osaka’s premier shopping arcade, Shinsaibashi-suji, is a 600-metre long retail experience that you absolutely can’t miss! The rooftop-covered shopping complex is flanked on both sides with an enticing mix of chain retail stores, hip boutiques, as well as upscale department stores and luxury designer brands.
Credit: Sophia Lucero on Flickr
If you’d like to visit the Harajuku of Osaka, then head to the nearby Amerika-mura, just west of Mido-suji street. This little enclave is a café-hotspot and a shopping mecca with the young and the budget-conscious. Above all, come here to observe Japanese youths dressed in their most creative take on Japanese pop culture.
Credit: Watashi わたし on Facebook
Address: 542-0085 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo Ward, Shinsaibashisuji, 2−2−22
Opening times: Typically 10am to 9pm
7. Minoh Park
Escape the hustle and bustle of citylife and enter the verdant landscape of Minoh Park. This forested valley is readily accessible by train and makes for an excellent day trip from Osaka. Take on an easy 3-km hiking trail alongside Minoo river to reach the 33-m tall Minoh Falls – the main highlight of the park!
Credit: puengy_taetae on Instagram
Along the way, stop and admire the beautiful Ryuan-ji Temple and its red bridge, or pop by the Minoh Insect Museum.
Credit: Experience Osaka on Facebook
During fall, the trees take on a resplendent fiery red hue and you can snack on momiji tempura – maple leaves deep-fried in sweet batter.
Credit: kimubert on Flickr
After your hike, refresh your achy feet in a free footbath at Yuzuru-No-Ashiyu, located just 3 minutes from Minoh Station in front of the elevator to Minoh Onsen Spa Garden. The hot spring water supplied is the same as the spa’s and provides many health benefits!
Address: Meiji no Mori Minō Quasi-National Park, Minoo, Osaka Prefecture, Japan
8. Sumiyoshi Taisha
Step back in time and visit Sumiyoshi Taisha – one of Japan’s oldest Shinto shrines that dates all the way back to the 3rd century. As the main shrine of all the Sumiyoshi shrines in Japan, it exemplifies a purely Japanese architectural style and enshrines Shinto gods meant to protect fishermen, sailors and other seafarers.
At this ancient shrine, you won’t miss the hundreds of stone lanterns donated by marine transport companies and others wishing for safe travels at sea. If you are lucky, you may catch a bugaku performance on a stone stage or you could simply contemplate life at Taiko-bashi, an attractive arched bridge over a scenic pond.
Address: Sumiyoshi Taisha, 2 Chome-9-89 Sumiyoshi, Sumiyoshi Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 558-0045, Japan
Opening times: 6am to 5pm daily (from 6.30am from October to March)
Ticket prices: Free admission
Shintenno-ji has the honour to be the first and oldest Buddhist temple to be commissioned in Japan. Founded in 593 by Prince Shotoku, who was a devout Buddhist, the temple’s buildings were razed many times by fires throughout the centuries. Today, the current buildings are faithful concrete replicas of the originals, with the exception of the big stone torii (entrance gate) that dates back to 1294.
Credit: Giappolandia.com on Facebook
For a small fee, you gain entry into the inner precinct where you can scale a five-storey-high pagoda. Also requiring paid admission are Gokuraku-jodo Garden, modelled after the Western Paradise of Amida Buddha; and the treasure house, where paintings and other important relics related to the temple are displayed.
Credit: Kuniaki Murase on Facebook
Address: 1-11-18 Shitennoji, Tennoji Ward, Osaka, Osaka Prefecture 543-0051, Japan
Opening hours: 8.30am to 4.30pm daily (until 4pm from October to March)
Ticket price: 300 yen
Opening hours: 8.30am to 4.30pm (until 4pm from October to March) (Note: frequent closures, especially the first ten days of the month)
Ticket price: 300 yen
Opening hours: 8.30am to 4.30pm (until 4pm from October to March)
Ticket price: 500 yen
10. National Bunraku Theater
The National Bunraku Theater in Osaka is the country’s most important venue for Bunraku – a traditional form of Japanese puppetry that first became popular during the Edo Period.
Performances are held in January, April, June to August and November so don’t miss this intriguing art form. The well-designed theatre is equipped with acoustics par excellence and provides headsets with English translation for foreign visitors.
Credit: Tim Buktu on Facebook
Address: 542-0073 Osaka Prefecture, Osaka, Chuo Ward, Nipponbashi, １−１２−１０
Planning a visit to Osaka?
Use the code YES100 on Klook to enjoy $100 off* all attractions, transport, tours and theme parks in Osaka! *Terms & conditions apply
BONUS: Availability of halal food and prayer spaces!
For Muslim travellers, the ease of finding halal food and prayer spaces is a huge pull factor in itself! Feast to your heart’s content on authentic, Muslim-friendly Japanese food from the list of restaurants in Osaka we have compiled for you. And have a peace of mind keeping up with your five daily prayers at these prayer spaces available for you in Osaka.
So there you have it – 10 top attractions that are worth your time in Osaka! Don’t give this city a miss while you are in Japan!