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Osaka • 大阪おおさか

So you're planning a trip to Osaka? Dive into our comprehensive Osaka travel guide covering everything you need to know about the city and the must-do experiences awaiting you.

Osaka Castle_Portrait
Umeda Sky Building

Osaka Travel Guide

An Introduction

Osaka (大阪 or おおさか), often referred to as the "Nation's Kitchen", is a city that tantalizes the senses with its rich culinary offerings, historical landmarks, and a dynamic fusion of tradition and innovation. Osaka's culinary scene is a gastronomic adventure waiting to be explored. Streets and alleys are lined with izakayas, street vendors, and renowned restaurants, offering an array of local delicacies. From the world-famous street food to the savory delights of okonomiyaki and takoyaki in Dotonbori, Osaka invites you to savor its diverse flavors.

While Osaka may not have served as Japan's imperial capital, it boasts a history as rich as its savory cuisine. The city's iconic Osaka Castle, standing proudly amidst lush parklands, tells tales of feudal Japan and the samurai era. 

Osaka's skyline is a testament to its modernity, showcasing architectural marvels like the Umeda Sky Building. The vibrant entertainment districts of Namba and Umeda are full of life, offering everything from shopping arcades to cutting-edge nightlife. Universal Studios Japan adds a touch of Hollywood magic to Osaka's allure.

  • Osaka is the third-largest city in Japan by population, following Tokyo and Yokohama. It is the capital city of Osaka Prefecture and serves as a major economic and cultural hub in the Kansai region.
  • Osaka translates to "large hill" or "big slope" in Japanese and is a reference to its topography. The city is situated on the coast of the island of Honshu and has a landscape that includes hills and elevated areas. 
  • Osaka Castle is one of Japan's most famous and recognizable landmarks. Its striking appearance, featuring large stone walls and a distinctive multi-tiered structure, has made it an iconic symbol of Osaka.
  • Osaka is often referred to as the "Nation's Kitchen" or the "Kitchen of Japan" (Kuidaore no Machi). The term "kuidaore" roughly translates to "eat until you drop" or "ruin oneself by extravagance in food," emphasizing the city's love for good food.

Osaka Travel Guide: Quick Tips

Osaka Travel Guide: Can't-Miss Attractions

Embark on a captivating journey through Osaka's must-visit attractions, exploring the cultural marvels of Osaka Castle and the historic Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of the bustling Dotonbori district, experiencing the modern allure of Umeda Sky Building, and discovering hidden gems.

We've highlighted all the attractions we visited and adored with the universal symbol of love, ♡.

  • Osaka Castle & Osaka Castle Park: Osaka Castle and its surrounding park are must-visit attractions, symbolizing Japan's feudal history with an impressive castle structure, informative museum, and beautiful park grounds, especially during cherry blossom season. Together, they offer a captivating blend of historical significance and natural beauty in the heart of Osaka. 
  • Shitenno-ji Temple: Shitenno-ji Temple, established in the 6th century by Prince Shotoku, stands as one of Japan's oldest Buddhist temples, featuring traditional architecture and serene gardens in the heart of Osaka.
  • Namba Yasaka Shrine: Namba Yasaka Shrine is renowned for its unique lion-shaped deity façade, making it an iconic spot in the city. The shrine attracts visitors seeking blessings for good fortune, business success, and protection.
  • Umeda Sky Building: The Umeda Sky Building is a skyscraper known for its innovative design, featuring two interconnected towers with an outdoor observatory that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city, making it a must-visit attraction for its stunning vistas.
  • Explore Dotonbori: Dotonbori is a vibrant district known for its iconic Glico Running Man sign, lively canal with illuminated billboards, a diverse array of street food, and energetic atmosphere. 
  • Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine: Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine, dating back over a thousand years, is celebrated for its ancient Shinto architecture, including arched bridges and distinctive wooden structures. 

Osaka Travel Guide: Landmarks

Osaka Castle 

Osaka Castle, originally built in the late 16th century, stands as a symbol of Osaka's feudal past and played a pivotal role in the unification of Japan. The castle's impressive architecture, surrounded by expansive stone walls and a picturesque moat, offers a captivating glimpse into the country's history. Inside, the Osaka Castle Museum showcases artifacts, exhibits, and historical insights, providing a comprehensive narrative of the castle's role in Japan's past.

Umeda Sky Building 

The Umeda Sky Building is a distinctive skyscraper located in the Umeda district. Comprised of two interconnected towers with an observatory bridging them at the top, the building offers breathtaking panoramic views of Osaka and its surroundings. Renowned for its innovative design, the Umeda Sky Building provides a unique and romantic setting for visitors, especially at sunset and in the evening when the city lights come to life.

Note: If you purchase the Osaka Amazing Pass, admission to the Umeda Sky Building is included only during the hours of 9:30 - 16:00. Otherwise, you can receive a 30% discount off of tickets if you would like to visit during the hours of 16:00 - 22:00. More information about tickets can be found on the Umeda Sky Building website. 

Glico Running Man & Dotonbori

The Glico running man sign is an iconic landmark located in the Dotonbori area of Osaka. It's a neon sign depicting a runner crossing a finish line, promoting the Glico confectionery company's products. The sign has become a symbol of Osaka and is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city. 

Dotonbori is a bustling entertainment district in Osaka, known for its vibrant nightlife, street food stalls, and colorful neon lights. It's a popular destination for both locals and tourists, offering a wide range of restaurants, bars, shops, and entertainment options. The area is particularly famous for its delicious local cuisine, including takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers).

In addition to the Glico running man sign, Dotonbori is also home to other iconic landmarks such as the Kani Doraku crab sign and the Ebisu Tower Ferris Wheel.

Umeda Sky Building

Osaka Travel Guide: Top Museums

Osaka is home to a diverse range of museums, offering cultural, historical, and artistic experiences. While some museums in Osaka are closed on Tuesdays, others may have different scheduled closure days or may remain open seven days a week. It's essential to check the specific closing days for each museum you plan to visit, as this information can be found on their official websites. Many museums in Osaka also close on certain holidays. Here are some notable museums in the city:

For the art aficionado: 

  • National Museum of Art, Osaka (NMAO): The National Museum of Art, Osaka (NMAO), located in Nakanoshima, is a prominent cultural institution dedicated to contemporary art. The building's unique inverted trapezoid shape and glass facade make it an architectural landmark in Osaka. NMAO primarily focuses on contemporary and modern art, showcasing a diverse range of exhibits from both Japanese and international artists. The museum's collection spans various mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, and multimedia installations. In addition to its permanent collection, NMAO hosts rotating exhibitions, providing visitors with a dynamic and ever-evolving art experience. 
  • Kōji Kinutani Tenku Art Museum: ♡ The Kōji Kinutani Tenku Art Museum showcases the mesmerizing works of Kōji Kinutani, a renowned Japanese artist known for his breathtaking landscapes and celestial scenes. Located inside the Umeda Sky Building (Tower West), the museum has a sizeable collection of some of Kōji Kinutani's most famous works. The art fuses traditional Japanese imagery with bright colors and modern techniques to create breathtaking works of art. 

For the history lover: 

  • Osaka Museum of History: The Osaka Museum of History, situated in the Osaka Castle Park, offers a captivating journey through the city's rich history. Renowned for its striking modern architecture, the museum's panoramic glass exterior provides sweeping views of Osaka's skyline and landmarks. Inside, visitors explore exhibits that chronicle Osaka's evolution from ancient times to its present-day status as a vibrant metropolis. Engaging displays, artifacts, and multimedia presentations narrate the city's economic, cultural, and social history. The museum also features a reconstruction of Naniwa Palace, an ancient imperial residence. 
  • Osaka Museum of Housing and Living: The Osaka Museum of Housing and Living offers a unique and immersive experience that transports visitors back in time to the Edo period. The museum recreates a section of Osaka as it appeared during the 1830s, allowing visitors to walk through realistic, life-sized replicas of traditional houses, shops, and streets. The museum aims to provide a hands-on and educational encounter with history, making it a fascinating destination for those interested in Japan's cultural heritage.
  • Peace Osaka: The Peace Osaka Museum delves into Japan's involvement in World War II, with a specific focus on Osaka's role. The museum provides limited information in English.

For families: 

  • Osaka Science Museum: *Reopening Summer 2024* The Osaka Science Museum contains interactive exhibits covering physics, astronomy, and technology. A standout feature is the immersive planetarium, offering shows about the cosmos. With a convenient location near Osaka Castle, the museum provides a fantastic opportunity for visitors to explore the wonders of science through hands-on activities and educational displays.
  • Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan: Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan is one of Japan's premier aquariums, located in the Osaka Bay area. Renowned for its sheer size and innovative design, it offers visitors a journey through various aquatic habitats, from the Pacific Ocean's depths to the icy water of Antartica. The main tank, known as the Pacific Ocean Tank, houses whale sharks, rays, and schools of fish. The aquarium also houses interactive exhibits, touch pools, and informative displays, making it a popular destination for families.

Osaka Museum Guide >

Koji Kinutani Tenuk Art Museum

Osaka Travel Guide: Popular Temples & Shrines

While Osaka is dotted with countless temples and shrines, we've curated a list of some of the most popular ones for visitors to explore in the city.

Shitenno-ji Temple 

Shitenno-ji Temple, located in Osaka, is one of Japan's oldest Buddhist temples with a history dating back to the 6th century. Founded by Prince Shotoku, a key figure in the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, the temple holds immense cultural and historical significance. The temple complex features traditional wooden structures, beautiful gardens, and iconic gates, embodying classical Japanese architecture. Visitors can explore the main hall, pagoda, and a tranquil pond. Shitenno-ji remains an active religious site and a peaceful retreat, offering a serene atmosphere for contemplation amid the bustling city.

Namba Yasaka Shrine

Namba Yasaka Shrine, situated in the Namba district of Osaka, is known for its unique and colorful architecture, including a striking lion-shaped guardian deity. The shrine is popular for the lively summer festival called "Namba Yasaka Matsuri," featuring a spirited procession with a towering float. As a local Shinto shrine, it attracts visitors seeking blessings for good fortune, business success, and protection. The vibrant atmosphere and distinctive design make Namba Yasaka Shrine a cultural gem amid the modernity of Osaka's entertainment hub.

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine 

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine is one of Japan's oldest Shinto shrines, with a history dating back over a millennium. Known for its unique architectural style characterized by beautiful arched bridges and distinctive wooden structures, the shrine offers a serene and picturesque setting. It holds cultural significance as a place of worship for maritime safety, making it a popular destination for prayers related to sea voyages and business success. The Taiko-bashi Bridge, which represents a symbolic entrance to the sacred realm, adds to the shrine's charm. Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine provides visitors with a cultural retreat, blending historical significance with tranquil surroundings.

Top Etiquette Tips for Visiting Shrines & Temples in Japan >

Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine_Statue

Osaka Travel Guide: Gardens & Parks

Osaka Castle Park

Osaka Castle Park, enveloping the Osaka Castle grounds, is a vast and beautiful green space, particularly stunning during cherry blossom season. The park's diverse landscapes, including a large plum grove, offer a serene escape from the urban bustle of Osaka. The combination of Osaka Castle and its surrounding park provides visitors with a rich cultural experience, blending history, architectural marvels, and natural beauty in the heart of Osaka.

teamLab Botanical Garden at Nagai Botanical Garden 

Experience the innovative fusion of art and nature at teamLab Botanical Garden within Nagai Botanical Garden in Osaka. After nightfall, witness the enchanting transformation of the garden through teamLab's captivating displays. teamLab's Digitized Nature project delves into the intersection of technology and nature, showcasing how the two can seamlessly merge to create art without causing harm. The interactive artworks draw inspiration from the surrounding ecosystem of the botanical garden, with trees and birds directly influencing the pieces. Due to the popularity of this experience, tickets should be purchased in advance from the official teamLab website.

In the event that you are unable to secure tickets to the teamLab Botanical Garden exhibit at Nagai Botanical Garden, the garden is open to the general public during the day. The garden is home to an  extensive collection of plants and includes serene walking paths. Even in wintertime, there were plenty of beautiful flowers in bloom from plum blossoms to camillas and more.

Kema Sakuranomiya Park

Kema Sakuranomiya Park is a picturesque park known for its beautiful cherry blossoms (sakura) and scenic riverside views. The park stretches along the Okawa River, creating a tranquil setting for visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of cherry blossoms during the sakura season. While in the park, visitors can also catch glimpses of Osaka Castle in the distance, creating a picturesque backdrop.

Nagai Park

Nagai Park, situated in the southern part of Osaka, is a spacious and multifaceted green space that caters to various recreational activities. Boasting expansive lawns, wooded areas, and a large pond, the park offers a serene escape from the urban hustle. Key attractions within the park include the Nagai Botanical Garden, showcasing diverse plant species, and the Nagai Stadium, a prominent sports venue that hosted events during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The park is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts, featuring walking and jogging paths, open spaces for picnics, and sports facilities. During the cherry blossom season, the park transforms into a captivating spectacle with numerous sakura trees in full bloom, attracting visitors for hanami (cherry blossom viewing). 

Tennoji Park

Tennoji Park, located in the southern part of Osaka, is a historic and expansive green space that encompasses various attractions and recreational areas. The park is home to the iconic Shitenno-ji Temple, one of Japan's oldest Buddhist temples, dating back to the 6th century. The temple, with its serene surroundings, adds a cultural and spiritual dimension to the park. Additionally, Tennoji Zoo, situated within the park, is a popular destination featuring a diverse range of animals and a family-friendly atmosphere. The park's central pond, Keitakuen Garden, provides a tranquil setting for leisurely strolls and boat rides. With its combination of historical landmarks, natural beauty, and recreational facilities, Tennoji Park offers a well-rounded experience for visitors seeking both cultural enrichment and outdoor enjoyment in the heart of Osaka.

Best Places to See Cherry Blossoms in Osaka >

TeamLab Osaka Botanical Garden

Osaka Travel Guide: A Taste of Osaka

Osaka boasts a dynamic and diverse culinary landscape, inviting food enthusiasts to embark on a flavorful journey. From classic takoyaki and okonomiyaki to inventive street food and acclaimed dining establishments, the city caters to a broad spectrum of tastes. Dive into local izakayas for an authentic experience, savor seasonal kaiseki delights, or enjoy tempting street treats in bustling markets. With an abundance of dining choices, ranging from hidden gems in narrow lanes to upscale restaurants in iconic districts, Osaka establishes itself as a global culinary destination, consistently captivating the palates of visitors worldwide.

Kuromon Ichiba Market:

Kuromon Ichiba Market is a bustling and historic marketplace located in the Namba district. Known for its lively atmosphere, the market is a haven for food enthusiasts, offering a wide array of fresh produce, seafood, street food, and local delicacies. Vendors showcase Osaka's culinary diversity, and visitors can savor specialties like takoyaki, sushi, and grilled seafood. 

Kuromon Ichiba Market Official Website (English) >

Street Food:

As you've likely discovered by now, Osaka stands as the unrivaled champion of Japan's street food scene. You can either book a street food walking tour or explore all that Osaka has to offer on your own with a visit to Dotonbori. Some of the most popular Osaka street food specialties include: takoyaki (octopus balls), okonomiyaki (savory pancakes), and kushikatsu (deep-fried skewers). However, you can find a large variety of other delicious street foods ranging from potato tornados to Portuguese pastel de nata, the viral ten yen cheese coins, and more. 

We booked a street food walking tour in the Shinsekai neighborhood of Osaka using GetYourGuide. We were left a little disappointed by the tour since we felt like we had already tried many of the foods included on the tour on our own. However, it was a great way to see a different part of the city and meet other travelers. If you're interested in booking a street food tour, we highly recommend GetYourGuide. They have a number of different options to choose from and most of the activities booked through GetYourGuide come with a 24-hour cancellation policy. If you book an experience or tour through our GetYourGuide affiliate link, we may earn a small commission. 

Speciality Foods:

Aside from street food, Osaka is known for quite a few specialties. Add these to your list of foods to try in Osaka. 

  • Jiggly Cheesecake: Jiggly cheesecake, originating from Osaka is a light and fluffy dessert known for its airy texture, resembling a soufflé. It's made by incorporating whipped egg whites into the batter, giving it a delicate and creamy flavor.
  • Takoyaki: Takoyaki is a beloved Osaka street food, featuring bite-sized balls of batter typically filled with diced octopus (tako), pickled ginger, and green onions. The batter is poured into special takoyaki pans, which have spherical molds, and then cooked until golden brown and crispy on the outside while remaining soft and creamy on the inside. Once cooked, takoyaki are served hot, topped with a variety of condiments such as takoyaki sauce (similar to Worcestershire sauce but sweeter), mayonnaise, bonito flakes (dried fish flakes), and dried seaweed flakes.
  • Okonomiyaki: Okonomiyaki is a popular Japanese savory pancake originating from Osaka. It typically consists of a eggs mixed with cabbage, other ingredients like meat or seafood, and cooked on a griddle. Topped with a variety of sauces, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes, okonomiyaki. There are plenty of specialty restaurants and vendors offering various styles and toppings throughout Osaka.
  • Negiyaki: Negiyaki is a regional specialty of Osaka, similar to okonomiyaki but with a focus on green onions (negi). Instead of cabbage, the batter is mixed with generous amounts of finely chopped green onions, giving the dish a distinct flavor. Like okonomiyaki, negiyaki is cooked on a griddle and often contains additional ingredients such as pork or seafood. It's typically topped with savory sauces, mayonnaise, and bonito flakes. 
  • Kushikatsu: Kushikatsu is a popular Osaka dish featuring skewered, breaded, and deep-fried ingredients like meat, seafood, and vegetables. The skewers are dipped in a sauce before eating. Casual eateries serving kushikatsu, known as "kushikatsu-ya," are abundant in Osaka, offering a variety of options for locals and tourists to enjoy.
  • Teppanyaki: Technically originating from nearby Kobe, teppanyaki restaurants can be found throughout Osaka. What we would call hibachi here in the United States, teppanyaki translates to "grilling on an iron plate". Teppanyaki is characterized by skilled chefs cooking food such as steak, seafood, and vegetables, directly in front of diners on the teppan, or flat iron griddle. While similar to American hibachi restaurants in terms of concept, you won't find Japanese chefs building onion volcanoes at these establishments. Typically higher end eateries with multi-course menus, teppanyaki restaurants are the epitome of fine dining in Japan. 
  • Yakiniku: Yakiniku or barbequed beef, has Korean origins but is highly popular throughout Osaka. Characterized by grilling your own bite-sized pieces of beef over a charcoal grill, yakiniku is an interactive dining experience. In Osaka, yakiniku restaurants are abundant, offering a variety of high-quality meats such as beef, pork, chicken, and seafood, often marinated in flavorful sauces or simply seasoned with salt and pepper. 

What to Eat in Osaka >

Popular Restaurants:

Osaka is full of fantastic eateries and you really can't go wrong with anywhere you choose. In Osaka, you also don't have to break the bank to enjoy an unforgettable meal; delicious culinary experiences can be found at every price point. We often selected places near to where we were staying for sheer convenience and had some truly amazing and memorable meals. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of restaurants we ate at in Osaka, a few spots we thoroughly enjoyed are listed below.
  • Teppanyaki Hikari (Namba) - One of the best meals we've ever had was here at Teppanyaki Hikari! Our chef perfectly prepared wagyu beef and spiny lobster right in front of us. Dinner was a set menu of 11 different items, all equally delicious! We departed feeling pleasantly stuffed, yet thoroughly satisfied with our dining selection.
  • Kiji (Kita) - Previously listed in the Michelin Guide, this okonomiyaki spot is a true hole-in-the-wall eatery. Tucked away down a side street in Osaka Station, Kiji was a challenge to find and we had to wait awhile for a seat. However, that wait was absolutely worthwhile for their signature "modern-yaki" included stir-fried noodles! The meal was truly incredible. 
  • Kani Doraku Dotonbori Main Branch (Dotonbori) - You can't miss this restaurant thanks to its giant crab outside! For those who love crab, this is a must-visit. We opted for their five-course offering which included crab sashimi, crab sushi, crab au gratin, and more. 

Michelin Guide - Osaka Restaurants >
Best Restaurants in Osaka >

Suntory Whisky Distillery:

  • For Japanese whisky lovers, Suntory, one of the largest whisky distillers in Japan offers tours to the general public. They have two locations in Osaka: Suntory Yamazaki Distillery and Suntory Hakushu Distillery. For more information about booking a tour, operating hours, and cost, check the Suntory Whisky Distillery website. 

Cocktail Bars & Nightlife:

Osaka's nightlife scene is diverse and lively, with a plethora of cocktail bars offering creative and expertly crafted drinks, ranging from classic favorites to innovative concoctions. From sleek lounges to cozy establishments, there's a venue to suit every taste. Beyond cocktail bars, visitors can explore izakayas, karaoke bars, nightclubs, and live music venues, particularly in districts like Dotonbori and Namba. A few of the cocktail bars we visited and/or were recommended to us are listed below.

Craving more bars and nightlife options in Osaka? Look no further than the Shinsaibashisuji neighborhood, known for hosting the city's most vibrant and bustling nightlife scenes.


Osaka Travel Guide: Shopping

Shopping in Osaka is a vibrant and diverse experience, offering everything from traditional markets to high-end luxury shops selling international brands. Here are some highlights:

  • Umeda: Known as Osaka's main shopping district, Umeda features luxury boutiques, department stores, and stores of renowned international brands.
  • Namba: Namba is home to the Namba CITY shopping mall, located within Namba Station, and containing more than 200 stores. Additionally, the Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade is home to a variety of retailers from popular streetwear brands, to cosmetics shops, character shops, and more.

Convenience Stores:

Convenience stores, known as "konbini" in Japanese, are an integral part of daily life in Osaka, offering a wide range of services and products.

  • Popular convenience stores in Osaka include 7-Eleven, Lawson, and FamilyMart. Most, but not all, operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Konbinis offer a diverse range of products, including snacks, ready-to-eat meals,  beverages, toiletries, stationery, and even clothing essentials.

Konbini: One-Stop Guide >

Vintage Shops:

  • Vintage shops in Osaka offer a wide range of second-hand clothing, including unique and one-of-a-kind pieces from different fashion eras. You can find everything from vintage kimonos to Western streetwear.
  • Osaka has a number of upscale second-hand stores like Hedy Osaka and Ragtag Shinsaibashi. These establishments curate pre-owned designer goods, including clothing, handbags, and accessories from renowned luxury brands like Chanel, Fendi, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, and Hermes.

Don Quijote:

Don Quijote, commonly known as "Donki," is a popular 24-hour discount store chain in Osaka, recognized for its diverse product range, competitive pricing, and unique shopping experience. Offering everything from groceries and cosmetics to electronics and quirky items, the stores are bustling with activity and boast a distinctive atmosphere. The Don Quijote location on Dotonbori is known for its iconic oblong ferris wheel. 

The store can be overwhelming and since it's open 24 hours a day, we recommend going late at night when it wasn't as crowded. We personally found it convenient for souvenir shopping, picking up Japanese KitKats, skincare products, and more to bring home with us, taking advantage of their tax-free shopping for purchases exceeding ¥5,000.

Tax-Free Shopping:

Tax-free shopping for tourists in Japan is a program designed to provide international visitors with a tax exemption on their purchases. Many retailers, especially in popular tourist areas, participate in this initiative. To qualify for tax-free shopping, tourists need to present their passport (it cannot be a copy of your passport) and make a minimum purchase amount of ¥5,000 in a single transaction (there is a maximum of ¥500,000 on consumables, i.e. foods and cosmetics, for the purchase to qualify). Participating stores display a "Tax-Free" logo, and the tax refund is processed at dedicated counters within the store.

Please note that items purchased tax-free must be taken out of Japan with you. You cannot qualify for tax-free purchases if you intend to use or consume the items while still in Japan.

Prior to your departure from Japan, you will need to scan your passport in customs if you purchased any tax-free items during your visit. The process is quick and straightforward, taking only a minute. Follow the signs for Japan Tax Free at the airport or seaport that you are departing from and a customs agent will be there to assist you.   

Tax-Free Shopping in Osaka >

Popular Souvenirs:

In the expansive and diverse city of Osaka, the array of available souvenirs is vast. While this list is not exhaustive, it encompasses some of the items we purchased, along with other popular choices. 

  • Japanese Snacks & Sweets: Items like Kit Kats with local flavors, traditional Japanese sweets (wagashi), and savory snacks make for delicious souvenirs.
  • Sake & Japanese Whiskey: Popular sake souvenirs from Osaka include brands like Daimon, while popular Japanese whiskies from Osaka include Suntory.
  • Matcha Green Tea Products: Matcha powder, as well as matcha-flavored treats, including matcha-flavored Kit Kats, cookies, and traditional tea sets, are popular choices for those who appreciate Japanese green tea.
  • Chopsticks and Tableware: Elegant and traditional chopsticks, as well as unique tableware like sushi plates and bowls, are practical souvenirs.
  • Japanese Knives: Japanese knives, renowned for their exceptional craftsmanship and precision, make excellent souvenirs from Osaka, offering a unique blend of traditional techniques and modern design that elevates their functionality and aesthetic appeal. Japanese knives can vary widely in price, ranging from affordable options to high-end, expensive blades. While there are budget-friendly choices, particularly for everyday kitchen use, renowned brands and artisanal craftsmanship can contribute to higher prices for premium Japanese knives.
  • Stationary Products: Japanese stationery products make excellent and unique souvenirs, appreciated for their quality and aesthetic appeal. Examples include traditional washi paper, beautifully crafted fountain pens, character-themed notebooks and planners, and cute and functional stationery items from popular brands like Muji and Midori. 
  • Lucky Charms: Lucky charms make phenomenal souvenirs, like the Omamori (amulets) from shrines with specific blessings for various aspects of life.
  • Gachapon Toys: These small toys from vending machines are a fun and inexpensive souvenir option, with a wide range of quirky and cute characters to choose from.
  • Otaku-Related Merchandise: Popular anime or manga souvenirs from Japan include character-themed merchandise, figurines, keychains, and exclusive collectibles available at specialty anime stores.

Meaningful Souvenirs from Japan >

Don Quijote Dotonbori

Osaka Travel Guide: Transportation 

Osaka, the third largest city in Japan, can be a challenge for first-time visitors to navigate due to its size. However, the city boasts a reliable and affordable mass transit system, offering an efficient way to explore its diverse neighborhoods and attractions. Leveraging navigation apps like Google Maps proves immensely helpful for seamless and efficient travel through the city.


Osaka welcomes travelers through the Kansai International Airport, easily accessible from the city center by efficient mass transit. 
  • Kansai International Airport (KIX): Kansai International Airport serves as the primary gateway to the Kansai region of Japan, including Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe. Located on an artificial island in Osaka Bay, KIX is approximately 31 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of central Osaka. The airport is well-connected to Osaka and surrounding areas via various transportation options, including trains, buses, and taxis. JR and Nankai Railway lines provide direct train services between KIX and Osaka, with travel times ranging from around 30 to 50 minutes.

Transportation To/From Kansai International Airport:

  • Since our arrival and departure didn't involve Kansai International Airport, we can't provide firsthand insights into transportation to and from Osaka. However, the Osaka Station website offers a comprehensive outline of transportation options, providing valuable information. Check it out here for detailed guidance.

Local Transit:

  • Subways & Local Trains: Osaka boasts an extensive and efficient subway and local train network, making it easy to navigate the city and surrounding areas. The Osaka Metro and JR West operate the majority of the subway and train lines, respectively. The subway system consists of multiple lines that connect key areas within Osaka, including popular tourist destinations such as Dotonbori, Osaka Castle, and Universal Studios Japan. The local trains, operated by JR West, provide access to neighboring cities and regions, making day trips and excursions convenient for travelers. With frequent service, clean and well-maintained facilities, and clear signage in both Japanese and English, navigating Osaka's subway and local trains is relatively straightforward for visitors. If you have an Osaka Amazing Pass, only the Osaka Metro lines are free with your valid pass. 
  • Buses: Osaka's city bus system is extensive and serves as an alternative mode of transportation to complement the city's well-developed subway and train networks. Buses accept various payment methods, including IC cards like ICOCA, Suica, and Pasmo. Like the Osaka Metro lines, the city buses are free with your valid Osaka Amazing Pass.
  • Uber: Uber is available in Japan, but they are less readily available than traditional taxis and generally come at a higher cost.
  • Taxis: Taxis in Osaka are abundant, offering reasonable rates, especially for groups. We found the taxis in Osaka to be fairly priced. It is worth noting that we did not encounter a taxi driver in Osaka that spoke English. Not to say that English-speaking taxi drivers do not exist in Osaka, but having a translation app readily available or having the hotel book a taxi on our behalf saved us some headaches. Remember, tipping is not a part of Japanese culture. Therefore, in Japan, it's customary not to tip taxi drivers, even when traveling with luggage.

Paying for Local Transit:

  • Icoca Cards: Icoca cards are rechargeable smart cards widely used for seamless travel on Osaka's public transportation, including trains, subways, buses, and even some taxis. (Suica and PASMO cards from Tokyo are also valid forms of payment on public transportation in Osaka. Meaning if you purchased a Suica or PASMO card in Tokyo, you do not need to buy a Icoca card in Osaka. Icoca cards, likewise, can be used in Tokyo.) Rechargeable at ticket machines, they eliminate the need for individual tickets and are also convenient for small purchases. While physical Icoca cards are no longer available, digital versions can be easily obtained and stored in digital wallets like Apple Wallet. These cards offer a hassle-free way to navigate Osaka's transit system, providing efficiency and convenience for both locals and visitors. You can easily reload your digital Icoca card at ticketing machines using cash or digital payment methods like Mastercard or American Express in your digital wallet (please note, Visa is not accepted when initially purchasing your Icoca card, but we were able to successfully use Visa to reload the card balance once downloaded on our iPhones), maintaining the seamless convenience of your Japan travel experience. 
  • PASMO Passport: The PASMO card itself is a popular rechargeable smart card used for transportation and small purchases in Osaka and other parts of Japan. Similar to Suica and Icoca, PASMO cards are convenient for navigating public transportation, including trains, subways, buses, and some taxis. They are also accepted for various transactions at vending machines, convenience stores, and participating retailers. The card is rechargeable, eliminating the need for individual tickets, and can be obtained at ticket machines or charging stations in train stations. PASMO Passport cards can be purchased by tourists and are valid for 28-days. For more information, or to purchase a PASMO Passport online, visit the PASMO website.
  • Cash: If you don't have a Suica, Icoca, or PASMO card (also frequently referred to as an IC card), you'll need to pay for your rides in cash as credit cards are limited to purchasing transit passes. Fares are determined by the distance to your destination. The ticket machines in the stations will calculate the fare amount for you when you enter your destination. Osaka subway fares range from 180 to 370 yen, offering affordable options for navigating the city's subway system.

How to add Suica, PASMO, or ICOCA Card to Apple Wallet >

JR Rail Pass & Shinkansen Tickets:

For travelers looking to venture from Osaka to other cities in Japan or embark on day-trips, the Shinkansen is a highly efficient and popular mode of transportation. Departing from Shin-Osaka Station, these high-speed trains offer swift connections, making them the go-to choice for seamless and rapid inter-city travel experiences.
  • JR Rail Pass: The Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass) is an exclusive ticket for foreign tourists, providing unlimited travel on most Japan Railways (JR) trains, including Shinkansen and local lines, for 7, 14, or 21 consecutive days. Offering cost-effective travel, the pass must be purchased outside Japan and is available to those with "Temporary Visitor" status. Seat reservations are recommended, and while not mandatory, they are particularly beneficial during peak travel seasons. With various types, including regional passes, the JR Pass is a popular choice for exploring multiple cities and regions, allowing convenient and flexible travel throughout Japan. While personally, we found that the JR Pass did not make financial sense for our trip to Japan, as it was cheaper to buy tickets individually, it may be worthwhile for those planning extensive train travel throughout the country.
  • Advance Purchase Shinkansen Tickets: The Shinkansen, or bullet train, is Japan's high-speed rail network known for its efficiency and speed. The Shinkansen connects major cities across the country. While advance-purchase tickets are not always necessary, they are recommended, especially during peak travel seasons, holidays, and weekends, to secure preferred departure times and seat reservations. Travelers can purchase Shinkansen tickets at stations or through online platforms, ensuring a smoother and more convenient travel experience on these iconic trains.

    We opted to purchase most of our Shinkansen tickets in advance before departing for Japan, leveraging the convenience of the Tokaido Sanyo Kyushu Shinkansen Online Reservation Service. While not mandatory, this approach allowed us to secure preferred seats with designated oversized luggage space and departure times, enhancing the overall efficiency of our travels across Japan. Creating an account is necessary before purchasing tickets on the website, and using a credit card with 3DS technology is a requirement. Our Discover card worked smoothly, unlike our Visa cards. According to a helpful article from The Points Guy in March 2023, American Express Platinum cards are also reported to work well for online Shinkansen ticket purchases before your trip to Japan.

    If you have large luggage and you are planning on taking it on the shinkansen, you need to make a reservation in-advance for a seat with oversized luggage storage. Typically this is the first and last row on trains. More information can be found on the JR website.

    JR Rail Pass Information & Pricing >
    JR Fare Calculator >

    Traveling between Osaka and Tokyo on the Shinkansen? Be on the lookout for Mt. Fuji about 30-45 minutes outside of Tokyo! While not always visible, Mt. Fuji can be a sweet surprise for Shinkansen passengers. Mt. Fuji is most commonly seen during the winter months, on a clear and cold day. Book a window seat (Seat E) in the ordinary cars for your best chance at a view of the majestic volcano! 


Mt. Fuji from the Shinkansen
Osaka Castle_Landscape

Don't Miss This: Osaka e-Pass

Formerly called the Osaka Amazing Pass, the Osaka e-Pass is a comprehensive sightseeing and transportation pass for tourists exploring Osaka. Offering unlimited rides on select public transportation, the pass includes admission to popular attractions such as Osaka Castle and the Umeda Sky Building. (The Osaka Castle admission also allowed us to skip-the-line!) The pass also includes a river cruise along the Okawa or Tombori Rivers. This pass is available in 1-day or 2-day durations, providing travelers with a convenient and cost-effective way to experience the city's highlights while enjoying various perks and savings.

Why we loved Osaka

We fell in love with Osaka for numerous reasons, but the food scene absolutely stole the show. We added Osaka to our itinerary strictly for the food, and it did not disappoint. From trying mouthwatering takoyaki to indulging in savory okonomiyaki, every bite was more incredible than the last.

The majestic Osaka Castle stood as a testament to the city's rich history, inviting us to delve into its storied past. Dotonbori, with its bustling streets adorned with neon lights, offered a vibrant and dynamic atmosphere, providing a stark contrast to the historical significance embodied by Osaka Castle.

Our ascent to the Umeda Sky Building provided a different perspective of the city, offering breathtaking panoramic views that left us in awe. Osaka's ability to seamlessly blend its historical landmarks with modern, neon-lit districts showcased the city's multifaceted character.

However, it wasn't just the individual attractions that defined our love for Osaka. It was the amalgamation of these experiences – the vibrant energy pulsing through the city, the deep-rooted history interwoven with contemporary life, and the endless array of activities that catered to every taste and interest. Osaka, in its entirety, left us thoroughly enchanted and emerged as our standout favorite among the cities we explored in Japan.

Glico Running Man_Dotonbori

Osaka Neighborhoods

Namba • 難波なんば

Osaka's Namba neighborhood is a vibrant and bustling district. Renowned for its lively atmosphere, Namba offers an array of entertainment, shopping, and dining options. It's an excellent place to stay for tourists, with numerous hotels, hostels, and accommodations catering to different budgets. The area is home to iconic landmarks such as the Glico Running Man sign and the lively Dotonbori district, known for its neon lights, street food, and entertainment. Namba also boasts extensive shopping opportunities, including the trendy Shinsaibashi Shopping Arcade and the Namba CITY. For those seeking cultural experiences, Namba is in proximity to historic sites like Hozenji Yokocho, an atmospheric alley with traditional tea houses and restaurants. Also within Namba is the Namba Yasaka Shrine with its lion façade. With its central location, excellent transportation connections, and a vibrant mix of modern and traditional attractions, Namba stands out as a fantastic and convenient base for tourists exploring Osaka.

Guide to Namba >
Top 10 Spots to Visit in Namba >
Top 15 Restaurants in Namba >
How to Navigate Namba >

Glico Running Man

Umeda • 梅田 うめだ

Umeda is a bustling commercial and entertainment district located in the northern part of Osaka, serving as one of the city's major urban centers. It is part of the larger Kita ward and is known for its vibrant atmosphere, modern architecture, and diverse range of shopping and dining options. Umeda is a prominent transportation hub, housing Osaka Station, one of the city's major railway stations and a key transportation nexus connecting various train lines.

The district features numerous shopping complexes and the popular Umeda Sky Building, which offers panoramic views of the city from its observatory. 

Umeda Guide >

Umeda_Green Bear

Morinomiya (Osaka Castle Area) • 森ノ宮 

Morinomiya is a district located in the eastern part of Osaka, and it is known for its blend of recreational and cultural attractions. One of the key highlights of Morinomiya is the expansive Osaka Castle Park, which surrounds Osaka Castle, a historic fortress that played a significant role in Japanese history. The castle itself is a symbol of Osaka and provides visitors with insights into the city's feudal past.

Within the park, there is the Osaka-jo Hall, a large multi-purpose arena that hosts various events and concerts. Morinomiya is also home to the Kyocera Dome Osaka, a stadium primarily used for baseball games, concerts, and other entertainment events.

The area is well-connected by public transportation, making it accessible for tourists. Additionally, the Osaka Museum of History, situated on the edge of the park, offers panoramic views of the city skyline and informative exhibits on Osaka's past.

Osaka Castle Area Guide >
Best Places to Eat Near Osaka Castle >

Osaka Castle

Nakazaki-cho • 中崎町  

Nakazaki-cho is a charming and historic neighborhood located in the Kita ward of Osaka. This area is known for its well-preserved traditional architecture, making it a delightful escape from the bustling urban environment. Nakazaki-cho is often referred to as Osaka's "Hidden Treasure" due to its quaint streets lined with preserved machiya, traditional wooden townhouses.

Key features of Nakazaki-cho include its narrow alleys, historic architecture, and a relaxed ambiance. The area is home to various boutiques, cafes, galleries, and antique shops housed in the charming machiya. The Nakazaki-cho Shotengai (shopping street) is a pedestrian-friendly lane with a variety of shops selling handmade crafts, vintage items, and local artisanal products.

Nakazaki-Cho Area Guide >

Tennoji 天王寺 

Tennoji is a dynamic and multifaceted neighborhood in Osaka that offers a diverse array of attractions, making it a compelling place to stay for visitors. Known for its rich cultural and historical heritage, Tennoji is home to the iconic Shitenno-ji Temple, one of Japan's oldest Buddhist temples, and the lush surrounds of Tennoji Park. The district is also a major transportation hub with the bustling Tennoji Station, providing convenient access to various parts of the city and beyond.

Abeno 阿倍野 

Abeno is a neighboring district in Osaka, sharing the same ward as Tennoji - Abeno Ward. Abeno is known for its bustling commercial and entertainment complexes. One of the prominent landmarks in Abeno is Abeno Harukas, a skyscraper and commercial complex that was the tallest building in Japan until 2023 (when it was surpassed by the Azabudai Hills Mori JP Tower in Tokyo). Abeno Harukas houses shopping malls, restaurants, an art museum, and an observation deck, offering panoramic views of Osaka.

Tennoji & Abeno Area Guide >

Tennoji and Abeno Area_Osaka

Osaka Bay • 大阪湾 

The Osaka Bay area, situated in the western part of Osaka, is a waterfront district known for its modernity, entertainment complexes, and scenic attractions. One of the prominent features is Universal Studios Japan, a world-renowned theme park that brings the magic of Hollywood to Osaka. The Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, one of the largest public aquariums globally, is another highlight.

The Tempozan Harbor Village, adjacent to these attractions, is a shopping and entertainment complex with restaurants, shops, and the iconic Tempozan Ferris Wheel, providing panoramic views of Osaka Bay. With its mix of entertainment, shopping, and maritime charm, the Osaka Bay neighborhood provides a dynamic and family-friendly destination for locals and tourists alike.

Universal Studios Japan Guide >
Osaka Bay Area Guide >
Osaka Aquarium Guide >

Shin-Osaka • 新大阪 

Shin-Osaka is a major transportation hub and business district located in the northern part of Osaka. Known for its modern infrastructure and accessibility, Shin-Osaka is home to a key railway station connecting various Shinkansen (bullet train) lines, making it a gateway to other major cities in Japan.

The Shin-Osaka Station is one of the busiest train stations in Osaka and serves as a transportation nexus for both domestic and international travelers. The station complex houses shopping areas, restaurants, and hotels, providing a convenient and bustling atmosphere for commuters and tourists alike.

While Shin-Osaka itself is not typically known for extensive tourist attractions, its strategic location makes it an excellent base for exploring other parts of Osaka and nearby cities. The district offers convenient access to Osaka's city center, historic sites, and entertainment districts via the efficient public transportation network.

Shin-Osaka Area Guide >
Shin-Osaka Station Map >
Top Restaurants Around Shin-Osaka Station >

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Umeda Sky Building_Lauren & Brian

Our take on Osaka

We spent three nights in Osaka at the Zentis Osaka, located in the Kita neighborhood of Osaka. While the hotel was absolutely gorgeous and made for a very comfortable stay, we felt that the location was a bit further from the action of Namba and Dotonbori than we would have preferred. Kita, itself, is a nice neighborhood with a lot of high-end shopping in nearby Umeda. The nearby subway and local train lines connected us easily with the rest of the city.

Spending a total of 3 nights in Osaka was ideal for a first time visit. This timeframe allowed us to explore the city's top sites, indulge in Osaka's  famous street food scene, and take advantage of a wonderful day-trip to Himeji, without feeling rushed. We also found the Osaka Amazing Pass to be worth every penny as it secured us admission to the Umeda Sky Building, Osaka Castle, and a Tombori River cruise, among other attractions. 

One Last Note...

Universal Studios Japan

Universal Studios Japan in Osaka is renowned for its thrilling rides, immersive themed areas - including Super Nintendo World - and captivating entertainment experiences. Although it is a highly popular tourist destination, we decided instead to visit Tokyo Disney Resort during our trip. However, if you're eager to visit Universal Studios Japan, you can easily book tickets through the link below for an unforgettable adventure filled with movie magic and excitement!

If you book an experience or tour through our GetYourGuide affiliate link, we may earn a small commission.

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Osaka Itineraries


Our Osaka Travel Guide & Trip Planning Resources

Curious about the resources that shaped our time in Osaka? Dive into the links below for additional insights and valuable information we used to plan our own unforgettable trip.

Looking for more information on Japan? From booking Shinkansen tickets, to general etiquette, popular souvenirs, and more, check out our Japan Travel Guide

Osaka Castle Roofline
Osaka Castle Roof Details, Osaka

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