Visiting Osaka - What to See and Do
(Osaka International Airport ITM, Japan)
is a massive city and has historically been at the centre of Japan's commerce industry. However, don't think for a second that this major metropolis builds its image around this. Instead, the city is quite the charmer. From its many shopping streets, avenues and department stores, to the plethora of fascinating family attractions, Osaka leaves nothing to be desired.
Sightseeing along the bustling streets of the city is a real must. The Kita district is renowned as the dynamic centre and inner-city gateway. Shops, restaurants, hotels and wondrous landmarks radiate from this area. For a taste of old, Osaka Castle is the iconic symbol of the city. Despite only being a replica, the castle and grounds are memorable sights, rich in heritage.
Osaka is a very modern city and proudly displays this through its many contemporary sites scattered around the metropolis. The Umeda Sky Building, the Kaiyukan Aquarium, the Joypolis Sega theme park, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, Universal Studios and many more modern masterpieces lure millions to this city every year.
Ten things you must do in Osaka
- Osaka Castle may not be an authentic ancient castle, but this beautiful concrete replica is as close as it gets in the city. Once an Edo period fortification, the site is now a restoration of its former glory. Despite the eerie halls that linger within the landmark, it does feel more like a museum than an ancient castle. However, the castle is still a memorable place to visit and photograph.
- The Japan Mint is not usually open to the public. However, it is home to the Cherry Blossom Tunnel Road, which is a strip of parkland filled to the brim with marvellous blooms of cherry blossoms during a week in early April. This is the best spot to go cherry blossom viewing in Osaka - that is unless tourists have a phobia of crowded places. More than a million people pass through the Mint during this seven-day stretch.
- Japan is renowned for its technological and scientific innovations, so it comes as no surprise that the city's Science Museum is a popular landmark and attraction. The museum spreads itself across several floors. In addition to a plethora of interactive science exhibits, a planetarium and cinema also operate at the centre. Visit during the week, as weekends see a stream of families and groups visiting the site.
- It may shock some people, but this busy Japanese city hasn't always been a global industrial powerhouse! There is much more to this city than meets the eye. The Osaka Museum of History contains displays and exhibits about both the city and the entire Kansai region. Learn more about the area's past, and take in spectacular views of the castle and Business Park too.
- Spend a few hours at the Umeda Sky Building. Located in Osaka's Kita district, this skyscraper cannot be missed. It is the most prominent modern structure in the city, boasting a 170-metre / 558-foot high observation garden on the roof, and a fully-restored street from the Meiji period in the lower floors. In between, restaurants, supermarkets and shopping stores are available.
- Just to the south of downtown Osaka stands Tennoji Zoo. Although not the world's best zoo, it is still a great way to spend half the day with the family. The most amazing feature of this park is the savannah zone, which is divided into herbivorous and carnivorous areas, but located side by side. This gives the impression that both types of animals are living harmoniously together. However, the giraffes, rhinos and antelope are safe from lions, cheetahs and hyenas.
- Tourists have to see the Kaiyukan Aquarium, which is one of the world's largest. The Pacific Ocean tank is breathtaking, cradling plenty of shark species like whale sharks and the grey nurse shark. Dolphins, seals, otters and many other creatures of the deep make their homes inside the aquarium.
- A feature of the city that lures millions of visitors each year is the Universal Studios attraction. Beaten in size only by Tokyo Disneyland, this theme park is an ideal day trip for all travellers. It rests upon Osaka Bay, just ten minutes from most central train stations. However, several hotels and resorts are available both in and around the park. Rollercoasters, studios, children's fun zones, major movie characters and more are found within this amazing park.
- Containing gender-divided spas and saunas, Spa World is the ultimate attraction for relaxation. Even children will enjoy this 'theme park', as a large pool with water slides operates inside the attraction too. The site is open 24 hours, so after a long day of sightseeing and a night of clubbing, head to Spa World to rejuvenate, ready for the next day.
- Peace Osaka is a memorable museum dedicated to the wartime experience endured by this city. The exhibits take a cold, hard look at Japan's role in the Second World War, including the unspeakable atrocities that the nation inflicted upon Korea, China and South-East Asia. Visitors will respect and admire the raw details on show within this museum. It is certainly regarded as one of Japan's finest historical centres.