Within a bustling city of nearly nine million people, there is no shortage of cultural things to do in Osaka, Japan. Located on the major island of Honshu, Osaka has established itself not only as an economic power, but also as a shopping hub and a tourist destination.
How to Get to Osaka
There are two airports within the city of Osaka. The one closest to the main city of Osaka is Osaka International Airport. There is also Kansai International Airport, which is located about 45 minutes away from the city center of Osaka by car.
There is also Kobe Airport in the nearby city of Kobe that can be used to reach Osaka.
There are several major train stations within the city of Osaka, such as Shin-Osaka, Namba, and Umeda. Before planning your transportation into the city, use Google Maps and Apple Maps to help you get to your exact destination.
Where to Stay in Osaka
Osaka is one of Japan’s largest cities, which makes it rather difficult to come up with a list of places to stay in Osaka. My recommendation would be to determine which sights in Osaka you would like to see, and from there, stay in the nearby vicinity. If you plan on exploring nearby cities such as Nara, Kyoto, and Kobe, I would also recommend staying in accommodations near the major train stations of Osaka, Shin-Osaka, Namba, or Umeda.
Hilton Osaka has secured itself a fantastic location near Osaka station, Shin-Osaka station, and Umeda station. That means you can get to any nearby major Japanese city very easily. This professional hotel has an indoor pool, a fitness center, and five stylish dining venues. As if that wasn’t enough, it is also connected to a large shopping mall with all of the food, clothing, and general shopping you could desire.
Room rates for the Hilton Osaka start at 22,863 yen (about $210) per night, depending on season and availability.
The Hilton Osaka is not the only hotel on this list that boasts some prime real estate. The InterContinental Osaka is also within walking distance of Osaka station, Shin-Osaka station, and Umeda station. One special feature of this hotel is the fact that in addition to regular-sized stylish hotel rooms, the InterContinental Osaka also has three-bedroom residential suites. You’ll be able to house any number of people that you may like within the InterContinental’s rooms.
Room rates for the InterContinental Osaka start at 26,000 yen (about $239) per night, depending on season and availability.
Hotel Hankyu International
Located just outside of Umeda Station, Hotel Hankyu International is a fantastic option for your stay in Osaka. The designers of Hotel Hankyu International based the décor and design of the hotel on the extravagant mansions of Europe. Within the hotel, there are several room options and ten different dining options.
Room rates for Hotel Hankyu International start at 15,305 yen (about $141) per night, depending on season and availability.
Ryokans, or traditional Japanese style-inns, are very popular accommodations throughout Japan. However, in Osaka, they are quite rare, because the city – including its ryokans – were destroyed during World War II.
If you are insistent on staying in ryokan during your time in Osaka, Hotel Ichiei is your best bet. In addition to the Japanese style rooms filled with complete with tatami mats and rice paper sliding doors, Hotel Ichiei also boasts Japanese restaurants that place their focus on tradition and technique. It also has a great location, as it is connected to Namba station.
Room rates for Hotel Ichiei start at 12,223 yen (about $113) per night, depending on season and availability.
Things to Do in Osaka
Make Sampuru, Japanese Plastic Food
If you’re looking for one of the most unique things to do in Osaka, making sampuru is a fantastic option. If you’ve spent some time in Japan in the past, you’ll know that almost every food establishment has a plastic display of the food that they serve. These plastic food displays are known as “sampuru.” (If you sound that out, it sounds a bit like the word “sample,” which is exactly what it is!)
Located in the bustling shopping area of Dotonbori, there is a place called Design Pocket, where you can make your own sampuru! At Design Pocket, you’ll have the option to make takoyaki (Japanese octopus balls), a gelato parfait, a fruit tart, sushi, or a bento. Each of these items cost slightly different amounts of money, although the takoyaki is the cheapest at 2,480 yen (about $23). Of course, the item that you make may depend on which item classes are being offered that day.
Lastly, since you are making fake food out of plastic, your creation needs time to dry. You’ll need to pick up your sampuru creation 24 hours after making it, so don’t do this fun activity on the last day of your time in Osaka!
Visit Osaka Castle
Visiting Osaka Castle is one of the most popular things to do in Osaka. This castle is surrounded by luscious grounds and a daunting moat. (If you visit in the spring, you’ll be able to walk through magical path of cherry blossoms!) Within the castle, you’ll have access to several stories of a museum on Japanese samurai and a viewing platform on the top floor. Entrance to the castle costs 600 yen (about $6) per person.
Visit Shitennoji Temple, the First Buddhist Temple in Japan
Built in 593, Shitennohi Temple was the first temple to be built by the state of Japan. While the temple has been burned down several times, it has always been carefully rebuilt. On the property, there are both the temple grounds and the inner precinct. While there is a small fee to visit the inner precinct (which boasts a five-story pagoda), you can wander the temple grounds for free.
Catch ‘Em All at the Pokémon Center
Pokémon has made its way all over the world. Since the first released Pokémon Game in 1996, there have been many evolutions of the game from Pokémon cards to Pokémon Go. To fully immerse yourself in every evolution of Pokémon, head over to the Pokémon Center in Osaka. Located on the thirteenth floor of the JR Osaka station, you’ll be able to buy Pokémon plushies, play Pokémon video games, trade Pokémon cards, and so much more!
Wander Around Dotonbori
It would be a shame to come to Osaka – one of Japan’s foremost shopping hubs – without visiting Dotonbori. The shopping area known as Dotonbori is one of the most popular things to do in Osaka at night. So wander around the shops, take a stroll by the river, and munch on some fantastic Japanese food!
Check Out Universal Studios Osaka
Harry Potter fans, this one’s for you! While many visitors to Japan know about Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea, not many foreigners are aware that there is a Universal Studios – complete with a Harry Potter World – in Osaka. As an added bonus, Universal Studios Osaka costs only a little more than HALF of what it would costs to visit the other Universal Studios parks. In other words, if you’ve wanted to visit Universal Studios but thought it was too expensive, Osaka is the place to do it!
See the Moss-Covered Buddha at Hozenji Temple
Located just a few streets away from the bustling shopping area of Dotonbori lies Hozenji Temple. This small temple boasts a unique feature: a moss-covered Buddha statue. It is tradition to pour a bit of water on the Buddha statue at Hozenji Temple. This tradition has been carried out so consistently that the Buddha statue is now completely covered in moss!
Visit Amagasaki Castle
If you’re looking for a less busy version of Osaka Castle, I HIGHLY recommend Amagasaki Castle. Originally built in the 1600s, Amagasaki Castle was later destroyed and only recently were there efforts to rebuild it. As a matter of fact, it just opened to the public in March 2019! There is a 500-yen (about $5) entrance fee to go inside of Amagasaki Castle, but, in all honesty, the outside is the best part.
Spend Some Time at Amagasakijoshi Park
Right next to Amagasaki Castle, there is Amagasakijoshi Park. And let me just start with the fact that I highly recommend it.
Most Japanese parks are peaceful gardens filled with streams, blossoming trees, and bright green grass. While those are wonderful, that is not at all what Amagasakijoshi Park is. Amagasakijoshi Park is the coolest children’s playground that I’ve ever encountered. With a miniature zipline, a rather difficult (yet safe) ropes course, and a handful of other obstacles, Amagasakijoshi Park is reminiscent of an American Ninja Warrior course! Basically, it’s the coolest thing to do in Osaka with kids (or even as an adult, if I’m being honest).
Have you visited Osaka? Tell me about your experience in the comments! (I promise I’ll respond!)
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