Osaka Sightseeing & Attractions
Our top picks of things to see and do
The jewel and pride of the town, Osaka Castle is located in a vast clearing the center of the city, between the two city centers of Umeda in the North and Namba in the South.
Burnt down and destroyed many times over the past several hundred years through wars and natural disaster, the present rendition of the castle was built in the 1930s and surprisingly survived the fires of WWII.
The complex is rather large, holding the castle, mote, court yard, public spaces, gardens and other structures. The grounds are a favorite place for locals to come during the Spring to view the blooming cherry blossom tress, over which are over 500 throughout the grounds.
Once the shame and scourge of Osaka, the area surrounding Tsutenkaku was dirty, dangerous and inhabited by bums and vagrants. But over the past years the city cleaned things up and it now stands as a top tourist attraction for the city, all centered around the Tsutenkaku Tower, a strange looking 100 meter steel tower.
Throughout the district you will find cramped and crowded streets, lined with some of the best eating in the city, second only to the Shinsaibashi/dotonbori area. The best time to come is at night when all the lights come on and the atmosphere is transformed.
Some Japanese may try to persuade you that Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai (the name of the tourist district which Tsutenkaku is in) is unsafe but this is not true! It is absolutely safe and tourist friendly. Even neighboring areas such as Tobita (Osaka’s prostitution district) and Airin-chiku (Osaka’s Yakuza strong hold) pose little threat to tourists.
After you're done stuffing your belly with amazing, life-changing Osakan cuisine, roll on over to the Shitennoji Temple (right next door to Tsutenkaku and Shinsekai).
Built way back in the good year of 574, The Shitennoji is in fact Japan's oldest officially administered temple! Being the first Buddhist temple in Japan you can imagine the history and stories connected to the temple. Particularly that of Prince Shotoku (the Temples' Founder) who wanted to introduce Buddhism to Japan, but was met with much opposition and so he had to battle opposing Clan Monobe. His victory paved the way for the Buddhism's success in Japan.
The Temple itself is on a fairly large complex, featuring a garden, a treasure museum, pagoda and of course the main hall.
Shinsaibashi / Dotonbori / Namba
Osaka's Southern Downtown region Namba comprises several districts of mention but we will focus on just two of them: Shinsaibashi, a shopping arcade which runs North to South for nearly a mile, and Dotonbori a region (including the famous Dotonbori bridge) which stands at the Southern outset of Shinsaibashi.
Standing from Dotonbori bridge you'll find yourself completely immersed in neon lights of shops and restaurants, looking to the north you'll see a seemingly never-ending ocean of people walking through the Shinsaibashi arcades. It is in these areas where you will find the best cuisine in Osaka, street vendors selling Takoyaki, Yakiniku, Okonomiyaki, all the good stuff.