things to do in osaka

What to Do in Osaka in 24 hours

OSAKA

One of Japan’s top three cities, the port of Osaka is packed with interest and fascination for the visitor from overseas and, with its alternative title of ‘the kitchen of Japan’, is undoubtedly a to-die-for destination for the food-passionate. This culinary element is inextricably intertwined with its other most notable feature – its buzzing after-dark night life. Whole vast streets and even entire areas are crammed to bursting with cafes, bars and restaurants in every guise, which spring to life once the sun sinks.

Otherwise Osaka is a city which blends ancient and modern. Its skyline is made up of soaring skyscrapers which glint in the sun among which sits a castle infused with shogunate history, rising majestically atop sheer rocks. Elsewhere can be found such things as a wealth of parks, world-class shopping, attention-grabbing museums, colorful temples, back alleys full of old charm and an ever-increasing art scene which is destined to put Osaka on the map in this aspect too; in short there is plenty to keep a visitor engrossed for quite some time.

With just a day in this vibrant city you will want to make the most of your time. The following itinerary will help you do just that, ensuring you cover all the major sights along with a few aside options thrown in if you want to take in some of the lesser-visited gems. Almost the whole is walk-able for the energetic but if you want to save time or your legs the city has an incredible train and subway network which makes getting around really easy.

A Morning in Osaka

Your morning in this vibrant city will include a mix of ancient and modern, traditional with contemporary, ensuring you get to experience the diverse faces of Osaka which exist side by side. Your explorations will begin with a choice between history brought to life or an art gallery (and perhaps a quick spot of souvenir shopping) followed by an unusual way of getting a bird’s eye view. Your morning finishes with a visit to Osaka’s most prized treasure – its history-infused and majestic castle.

The Museum of Housing and Living

Present day Osaka is the result of many centuries of history which, all woven together, have produced the colorful tapestry the city is today. A visit to the Museum of Housing and Living makes for an informative and interactive introduction, taking you on a journey through time. Its mission is to show you how both houses and living in the city have developed and changed from the 17th century to the present day. The Edo period – which ran from 1603 until 1867 – is when the city truly  boomed and started to emerge as one of the nation’s foremost cities and ports. With knowledge of this back story the rest of your day in Osaka will take on a little greater meaning.

This unusual museum located inside the Housing Information Center is divided up into two floors. It is small and ideal for all those who are looking for some valuable historical insight but are not necessarily fans of museums in standardized formats or who don’t want to spend too much of their Osaka day inside.

One whole floor is a full size and detailed recreation of an 1830s Osaka street where you can completely interact and explore such sights as a public sento (traditional bath house), a town hall and a cabinet maker’s workshop along with merchant and trading establishments selling, among other things, toys, medicines and kimonos. Faithful reproductions pay attention to the finest details such as household items and shop signboards while the ceiling and street itself has lighting which changes to represent daytime, sunset and night.

To add to the whole sensation of having stepped back to times past many who come here rent kimonos from the stand inside the building and stroll the street traditionally-clad. If you’d like to embrace this immersive ethos yourself be warned, the wait for hiring can be long as this is incredibly popular.

The other floor of the museum is a stunning collection of crafted model scenes and detailed dioramas which follow on from the Edo period and cover the subsequent imperial reigns of the Meiji, Taisho and Showa eras. Many of the streets and areas you will be covering in your Osaka day are represented here as they would have been in the 1920s, 30s, 40s and 50s – such as the 1927 Shinsaibashi-suji scene giving a clear picture of the expansions and developments which have taken place.

A Quick Opportunity for Souvenir Shopping

As it is located literally next door to the Museum of Housing and Living take the opportunity to wander the 2.6km Tenjinbashisuji shopping street. Even if you are not especially interested in making any purchases you can at least say you have walked down the longest shopping street in the country. Tenjinbashisuji has existed as a selling and trading place since the late 19th century although these days it is covered over making it an all-weather-friendly retail destination.

Osaka is not short of glitzy malls packed with modern wares and world-class shopping hotspots but this long street offers a collection of hundreds of rather more independent and one-of-a-kind stores which are ideal for both fascinating browsing and souvenir hunting. It is also known as offering rather more shopper-friendly price tags than many other options.

Other Museum Choices

The Museum of Housing and Living is by no means the only Osaka museum option worthy of consideration.  Other highly rated museums include the Osaka Museum of History, the International Peace Center which tells the story of Japan during its World War II years as well as serving as a memorial to all the air raid victims of this period and the Open Air Museum of Old Japanese Farmhouses. This latter, located a little out of the center, has a collection of twelve actual historical buildings moved here from various locations around the country and displayed in an outdoor setting.

The National Museum of Art Osaka

If your interests run more to masterpieces than models you can head to the National Museum of Art. (If you’d really like to take a look at both this and the Museum of Housing and Living you can easily do so as they are located just 3km apart.) Often simply referred to as NMAO, this gallery has several notable features aside from its displays of valuable art. One such is that the majority of its exhibition space is entirely below ground level; this subterranean element is something which only a handful of other museums on the entire planet can lay claim to.

Its second most distinctive feature is its above-ground building design which is eye-catching enough to make it something of a city landmark and which is considered a work of art in its own right. Strikingly contemporary and decidedly elegant, this sparkling glass and shining steel arching sculpture represents riverbank reeds or a grove of towering bamboo and parts of the structure have even been purposely designed to sway slightly. Seen from inside, in an area which makes up the museum’s lobby, the whole also packs a visual punch equal to its exterior. From here you descend to the two floors of exhibition space – the first which houses the permanent exhibits and the lowest level which is home to the temporary or touring exhibitions. The entire collection numbers some 6000+ art works, mostly dating from after World War II, which represent both Japanese and international artists. Some earlier dated pieces of exceptional note include works by Cezanne, Max Ernst, Picasso and Japanese born painter and photographer Yasuo Kuniyoshi.

Thanks to clever design elements which allow both natural light to enter along with sensitive additional lighting the spaces feel airy despite their underground nature.

Other Art Galleries and Museums

If you are an art fan there are also several other options for you to explore in Osaka. These include the Tennouji Park-located Museum of Fine Art which features a large collection of Eastern art along with industrial arts and the Abeno Harukas Art Museum. This latter, located within Japan’s tallest building, covers a wide diversity of art genres including pop culture of both the vintage classic and the up-to-the-minute variety along with anime.

A Bird’s Eye View of Osaka – The Umeda Sky Building and the HEP5 Ferris Wheel

Like so many other Japanese cities Osaka offers not just the opportunity to get elevated views but to get so high up you might feel as if you literally have your head in the clouds. One of these – the Umeda Sky Building – is located in the same area as both the Museum of Housing and Living and the National Museum of Art Osaka. Although the city actually has several buildings which exceed the 173m height found here, few can compete with the Umeda’s element of unusual – something which makes this skyscraper one of the city’s most well-known landmarks. The building is not actually one tower but two connected by a bridging top section which you will see from looking up at it from beneath has a vast circular section removed; this is where the ‘unusual’ comes in.

Located on the 39th floor and within the bridging section can be found the Floating Garden Observatory, reached by way of some stunningly-designed and space-age-like covered escalators which ascend through the building’s circular open section. This allows you to start enjoying your bird’s eye views before you even reach your ultimate vantage point. If you want an open-air view head to the 40th floor. Whether you opt for inside or out the views are 360 degrees, take in city and ocean

For high-rise views of a slightly different kind head to the HEP5 Ferris Wheel. As enormous as this bright red landmark is at 75m in diameter it doesn’t come anywhere near being one of the world’s biggest – there are more than 30 more in the world ahead of this one. However, as one of only a handful anywhere on the planet which sits perched atop a building – in this case the HEP5 mall – it still qualifies as something rather special.

With this extra height boost the top-most point of the Ferris wheel soars 106m into the air which means views from the glass gondola-like capsules are far reaching and magnificent. On a clear day it is possible to make out Mount Ikoma far off to the east.

Of course the distinctive Umeda Sky Building and Ferris wheel are not the city’s only way to get a head-in-the-clouds view. The Tsutenkaku Tower is popular for its open-air viewing deck but king of them all when it comes to height is the Abeno Harukas observation deck. This sits perched atop not just the city’s biggest skyscraper but – at 300m – the tallest in the entire country.

Coffee Break in Osaka

Things to do in osaka

Whether you chose to step back in time at the museum, gaze upon precious art works, stroll the country’s longest shopping street or get above the city for spectacular views you will no doubt be ready to take a pause. The following choices for a mid-morning refreshment stop offer a choice between a quirky but enchanting cafe, a beautiful tea ceremony oasis or an option for the coffee purists. To make life easy all are located close to either the Umeda Sky Building or where you will recommence your Osaka adventures after your break – Osaka Castle.

 Stuffed with sofas to relax, hung with hearts, flowers and stuffed toys and surrounded by crammed bookshelves along with curios and nick-nacks on every available surface the Pennennenemu is nothing short of delightful. Although it might not be every one’s cup of tea if you would like a helping of quirky Japanese charm along with your morning refreshment this is definitely the place to head.

This magical space is highly popular with nostalgic Osaka locals looking to escape for a while into a themed world of picture books and characters from their childhood. It offers a range of teas, coffees and cold drinks – the latter almost works of art – along with savory and sweet accompaniments like the traditional hot cakes and pancakes which feature in ‘Guri and Gura’ – a book read by all Japanese adults of a certain age.

For those who would like to kill two birds with one stone and have both a morning refreshment break and a cultural experience direct your footsteps towards Wad Omotensashi. With its airy, elegant and decidedly lovely interior this beautiful cafe is worth stopping by just to step away from the Osaka bustle for a while and into a tranquil oasis surrounded by natural wood, draped hangings and pottery. However, it also gives you the opportunity to partake in a traditional tea ceremony, seated at low tables on floor cushions classical-style. Beloved by both locals and Osaka visitors, the Wad Omotensashi offers traditional teas and matcha (the green tea of tea ceremonies) prepared with observance to ancient artistic techniques and served according to tea ceremony etiquette.  Traditional wagashi – or sweet treats – come as standard with the tea.

If the Osaka sun is shining and you prefer a cold drink this lovely establishment is also renowned for its fantastic shaved ice creations

If nothing short of high-quality coffee will suffice for your morning break Bar ISTA is a good choice and conveniently close to Osaka Castle to keep walking to a minimum. As the name might suggest this is an establishment which offers its customers high-end coffee choices prepared by award-winning and internationally competitive baristas and tends to be a haunt for the most discerning coffee-drinking locals. So top-notch is the coffee here that many would even argue that the aim of its two coffee-passionate owners to offer the best in the city has been achieved. The incredible latte art here is also something worth experiencing.

Osaka Castle

If Osaka can be said to have one principle jewel in its treasure chest it would have to be the magnificent 16th century fortification known as Osaka Castle. Perched high upon a man-made hill above sheer walls and surrounded by moats 90m across at their widest points, this mighty castle was designed to make it almost impervious to attack. Its beauty and elevated aspect make it the city’s most recognizable landmark while its history grants it status as one of the entire country’s most significant treasures. The incredibly beautiful storied structure visible from far and wide which makes up its most distinct feature is actually only part of the castle – its principal tower.

 The castle’s history is a long and dramatic one, the story woven with battles, sieges, triumphs and defeat. Once the site of an ancient temple, the original castle was raised in the latter years of the 1500s by Toyotomi Hideyoshi – a samurai warrior and the man credited with bringing to an end the period known as that of the ‘Warring Lords. After several failed attempts the castle finally fell in 1615 and became the property of the Tokugawa family – the last of the country’s shogunates. Later, during the later Meiji imperial era, the castle was converted into a munitions and armory which produced guns and ammunition for the emperor’s army and this same use was expanded further during World War II.

Throughout its history Osaka Castle had survived a series of fires, lightning strikes and military assaults but a bombing raid in World War II was to be its major undoing. 90% of it was completely destroyed and it wasn’t until the 1990s that the castle was lovingly and painstakingly restored to the former glory of its original Edo period days.

 Among the original features which remain are its main gate, certain turrets and a gunpowder storage section – all of which have been awarded national ‘Important Cultural Property’ status. Perhaps the most impressive of the surviving original structures however is the castle’s awe-inspiring 17th century boulder walls – more than 20m at their highest points – which stretch for 12km.

 Today the entire eight-storey main tower (three of the storeys are below ground level) is home to the castle’s museum. Here you can explore the tragedies and triumphs of the castle’s centuries and gaze upon its 10,000 or so artifacts – a collection so magnificent that in both size and quality it is unrivaled in all of Japan. Treasures include colorful armor, swords and weaponry, exquisitely decorated folding screens which depict scenes of battle, carvings, scrolls, opulent furnishings, paintings, lacquer-ware and some letters actually written by the castle’s original founder more than 400 years ago.

 Before you leave be sure to head up to the tower’s topmost point for views which take in not just the castle grounds, surrounding moat and extensive park but also wider Osaka. You can also stroll the park grounds which, with their thousands of plum, peach and cherry blossom trees, are especially lovely at certain times of year.

 

Lunch in Osaka

Known as the nation’s kitchen and packed with an almost ridiculous number of restaurants, Osaka is a great destination for all those who think perfect travel cannot possibly be complete without great food. While almost anywhere in the city has its culinary share of wonderful the following have been suggested as they are located close to your morning’s end or your afternoon’s beginning so no time is wasted traveling between districts.

Located a stone’s throw from the city’s iconic castle can be found the sophisticated Garden Oriental which despite its name is a grand European-style building, much used for weddings. A great choice for those looking for elegant lunch dining, this restaurant offers outdoor terrace tables with a view that takes in lush gardens at any time of year and those of spectacular cherry blossom in spring. Lunch options include set menus and a la carte choices.

Also within walking distance to the castle is Yoshino Sushi which is a hot-spot for those intent on sampling oshi-zushi, a culinary delicacy actually invented in Osaka itself and which, as a type of pressed sushi, will of course instantly appeal to sushi fans. Yoshino’s specialty is hakozushi – pressed sushi presented as colorful little layered boxes. Any business which has been running, like Yoshino, since 1841 has obviously mastered something quite special so top-class hakozushi here is assured.

Besides the sushi option above there are plenty of choices for those who want to sample traditional Japanese cuisine. Head to the Namba district – where your afternoon will continue after lunch – for a plethora of venues offering such things as takoyaki (octopus balls) or okonomiyaki (a classic savory pancake). If you want every second of your lunch experience to be infused with elements of as authentically Japanese as it comes with traditional floor-seated dining direct your footsteps towards the lovely Wa Dining Hotaru. Your surroundings here are made up of simplistic and elegant traditional Japanese decor dominated by rich wood and set with small interior gardens while your beautifully presented food is 100% Japanese. Wa Dining Hotaru has a pedigree which stretches back decades so it has long since mastered the art of keeping its discerning customers satisfied. Lunch menus are set but come in a wide variety of options so you can be sure of finding something to suit.

An Afternoon in Osaka

With lunch over and energy levels boosted you can begin looking forward to a few more hours of Osaka exploration which will include some general sightseeing, a spot of shopping if you are so inclined and a visit to a beautiful and ancient Buddhist temple complex to round off your afternoon.

 Wandering, Window-shopping and Seas of Neon

If chic-shopping and high-end brands are what you are looking for you can do no better than head to Shinsaibashi. From Chanel to Cartier and Dolce & Gabana to Dior, this area has it all. Although the flashing neon and continuously frenetic pace of Shinsaibashi today make it hard to imagine, this district has a long history and once served as a thriving shopping area as far back as the Edo era.

Today this whole buzzing locale is a modern-day shopper’s delight but the 600m long covered arcade of Shinsaibashi-suji is its major artery, crammed with almost 200 stores, if you take into account the alleys which radiate off from the main drag.

Even if you are not actively on the hunt for anything in particular this area is a popular hotspot if for no other reason than to take a fascinating stroll and soak up a little of 21st century Japan. Peppered among the international big names are such delights as traditional kimono makers and a seemingly endless supply of characterful teashops and small eateries.

If you exit the Shinsaibashi-suji shopping arcade at its southern extremity and walk towards the Dotomburi canal for about another 100m you will arrive at the Ebisu-bashi Bridge. Fabulously hemmed in on both sides by soaring walls of neon, taking a photograph from this bridge ranks as one of the city’s most essential things to do for visitors; as Osaka sights go it really doesn’t get much more iconic than this.

Head a little further south and you will have arrived in the open-air Dotomburi arcade which is known for its high concentration of restaurants and food sellers, each of which seem to compete with their neighbors to attract would-be customers by way of ever-more elaborate and fantastical neon signage and advertisements.

The Hozenji Temple

In a lane of the same name and a stone’s throw from Dotomburi can be found the lantern-strung Hozenji Temple. The entrance is sufficiently modest that you could easily pass by without noticing and the temple itself is quite small, taking no more than minutes to walk around. However it really is worth stopping by here to see its highly unusual Buddhist spirit statue.

Hozenji’s Fudo Myo-o stone statue is something of an Osaka superstar thanks to a miraculous survival story. During World War II this area suffered extensive bombing which left much of it, including the 17th century Hozenji Temple and all it contained, as little more than rubble. However, the man-size statue came through it all totally unscathed and has since been held as a symbol of Osaka’s fortitude in transforming almost total destruction into a thriving major city. As incredible as this story is it isn’t the main reason why this Buddha is worth seeing. That is down to the fact that it is carpeted from head to toe in vibrant green moss. So healthy and thick is the growth that it isn’t even possible to make out what would have been the typically stern features of Fudo Myo-o – a spirit of discipline and rigorous morality.

This Fudo Myo-o hasn’t always been this way – the story goes that many years ago a worshiper threw water over it while offering a prayer. The wishes of her prayer came to fruition which led to a string of other temple visitors following her example, in the hope that their own wishes would be granted. Today at the feet of the statue sits a cauldron-like pot for all visitors to use to ensure the water-throwing tradition continues and the statue’s mossy decoration can thrive.

Strolling through Namba

The historic Namba area in which Hozenji is located makes for a rewarding stroll if you have the time and the inclination. You will discover many picturesque alleyways paved with flagged cobblestones and a multitude of traditional buildings exuding an atmosphere which can make you feel as if you have stepped back in time. Arguably the most picturesque of these narrow alleys is the lantern-decorated Hozenji Yokocho.

While in this area be sure to check out the Namba Yasaka Shrine which is literally located in the middle of the sidewalk. Erected in the 1970s, the 7m-deep shrine is itself set inside a roaring 12m tall lion head with its lower set of teeth jutting out from the base. The lion is believed to consume evil spirits and be a bringer of luck so it is much visited by Osaka students during exam season or by business people at certain points in the financial year.

The Shitennoji Temple

Once you have finished your Namba wanderings you can make your way to the final stop on your afternoon’s itinerary – the beautiful, spacious and ancient Buddhist temple complex of Shitennoji. Depending on where you previously finished up you can probably arrive on foot but if your meanderings have taken you a little further out or you want to save your energy the temple is just a short 5 minute walk from Shitennoji-mae Yuhigaoka Station which lies on the subway’s Tanimachi Line.

Although this temple complex is quite grand and spread out over a spacious area, it remains little visited for no obvious reason. This means you can have a tranquil end to what may have been an afternoon filled with bustling streets and multitudes of people.

Shitennoji dates back to the 6th century making it one of the oldest found anywhere in Japan and it is widely accepted that it was the first Buddhist temple to be state-supported following the earliest migration of Buddhism from China. Today the complex sits, skyscraper surrounded, in the bustling Tennoji area and enjoys an elevated status as one of the country’s most significant religious sites.

The complex, which received its latest renovations in early 2018, is made up of a variety of buildings such as a lecture hall, an ornate five-storey pagoda which can be climbed and four grand entrance gates sitting at its cardinal points. The Shinto shrine gate or torii dates from the 13th century and is the oldest of this type in Japan. However, the principal draw among the structures of the site is the lovely Golden Pavilion decorated in shades of scarlet, green and gold. Also within the complex can be found the Treasure House which is a museum housing Buddhist artifacts and ancient items.

For many visitors the highlight of the entire site is the stunning garden which is a traditional Japanese design of meandering paths, ponds, overhanging foliage and cherry blossom trees.

It is free to enter the complex and wander around but the main pavilion, the pagoda, the museum and the garden all attract admission fees.

If you happen to arrive at the temple on the 21st of any month you will find a lively market set up just outside the entrance with a colorful variety of stalls selling antiques, pottery and vintage kimonos among other delights.

Pre-dinner Drinks and Dinner in Osaka

A day spent unearthing the sights of Osaka will no doubt have left you ready for some well-earned and relaxing sun-downer drinks during which you can turn your thoughts to where you will head to dine.

Pre-dinner drinks

Finding a wonderful venue to enjoy your pre-dinner drinks won’t be hard. There is an unbelievably large number of options ranging from the traditional Japanese pub to the elegant cocktail bar. So many in fact that your biggest challenge will be narrowing down your choice to just one.

For many, half of the joy is found in simply wandering an area and checking out the variety until you find something which perfectly matches your own personal version of ideal. Each area offers something a little different but for those who want to immerse themselves fully in the neon and buzz Dotomburi has to be a top contender for the ‘best of’ title. The range of bar choices here could keep you busy for years.

If you’d like something a little quieter and which has an air of Osaka in bygone days head a little south of Dotomburi where you will find the narrow alley of Hozenji Yokocho which comes complete with many tucked-away bars.

For all those to whom ideal pre-dinner drinks mean something a little more exclusive and romance-infused opt for a champagne or cocktail river cruise as the sun sinks over Osaka. One option here is that run by the Kitahama restaurant which has another mention under dinner venue choices. Head out for an hour or so cruising past spectacularly night-lit sights such as Osaka Castle, the flashing neon sea of Dotomburi and the city’s bridges and parks. 

With its range of cloud-scraping buildings getting high-rise in Osaka for your pre-dinner drinks couldn’t be easier; spectacular views of dazzling night city-scapes come as standard of course. If high quality cocktails are also your aim head to Absinthe Solaar‘s open-air terrace atop the Takashimaya store building. To make life easy you can simply transition from here to the chandelier-hung interior for some Mediterranean-themed dining once you decide it is time to eat.

Those who want both view and jazz entertainment can make their way to the exceptionally elegant 40 Sky Bar and Lounge in the Conrad Hotel which perches at 200m above the city.

Dinner

While several Japanese cities can boast reputations as renowned hubs for the food lover nowhere is this truer than with Osaka. Often called the ‘kitchen of Japan’, Osaka has been synonymous with great food since its much smaller merchant town days and is still widely considered to be the home of the best eating experiences to be found in the country.

With such a reputation almost anywhere you care to head in the city will offer an almost overwhelming range of options from succulent street food to Michelin-starred choices.

The Nakanoshima area which sits sandwiched between two rivers is known for its collection of restaurants popular with the in-crowd. One choice here is the nautically-themed Spanish Kitahama Rumba, a perfect venue for those who want to enjoy something intimate and atmospheric with their partner. With its terrace dining complete with sparkling night views of the Tosabori River and the light-draped Lion Bridge it doesn’t get much more romantic than this.

For fine dining nowhere has quite the concentration of options as the Namba area while Dotomburi – the famous entertainment district strung alongside the  Dotomburi-gawa Canal – is a wonderland of food choices along with a fabulous sea of neon and an after-dark atmosphere which is distinctly carnival. Many argue Dotomburi is the city’s principal dining area and this is certainly true if you want to sample some of Osaka’s incredible street food. As the sun sinks the street vendors and stall holders spring up in numbers, offering takoyaki octopus balls, prawn-topped pancakes and any number of exciting Japanese culinary delights to tingle your taste buds in ways you will probably never have experienced before.

 While cuisine choices in Osaka offer just about everything possible it may be that you have your heart set on getting a 100% Japanese food fix while in town. If so head to Shinsekai for a wide choice of Japanese traditional, especially Kansai-type dishes such as deep-fried skewers and savory pancakes. If you would like to experience the stew-like specialty, known as sukiyaki, in surroundings which sing traditional Japanese from every inch of its space head to Kitamura; functioning since 1881 this much-loved restaurant has had a long while to perfect its art. While the sukiyaki here is said by many to be not just the city’s best but the entire country’s, the whole experience is something rather unforgettable too. Opt for tranquil communal dining or your very own tatami-mat private room where kimono-clad attendants cook your dish at your low table.

Osakans are also known for their long-standing love affair with crab. As a result restaurants specializing in crab dishes are not hard to find but the number one name is that of Kani Doraku. The story goes that this restaurant actually invented the famous kanisuki dish – a type of crab hotpot – from which the city’s obsession with crab grew. While Kani Doraku has a number of branches throughout the city all are easily spotted by the restaurant’s famous signature advertising – a mammoth-sized red crab suspended above the entrance.

With such a magnificently bewildering amount of venue choice coupled with an incredible diversity of must-trys you may just find it easier to sign up for an evening food tour. Here you can put yourself in the hands of local experts who can lead you to hidden gems to enjoy unforgettably authentic cultural experiences, discovering places perhaps known only to locals and which you would be unlikely to unearth on your own. The choices – which all typically embrace the concept of ‘eat until you drop’ (kuidaore) – come in a variety too. Emphasis may be on eating and drinking your way through the cozy and tucked-away izakaya, hunting down the best street food or experiencing the pinnacle of Kansai specialties.

An Evening in Osaka

what to do in oksaka

 Whether you chose to seat yourself on a tatami mat to dine Japanese style, opted for something more internationally flavored or have been lead on a culinary treasure hunt through back alley hideaways you will now have an Osaka evening in front of you to enjoy.

People-watching, street-wandering and Dotomburi

If you have spent an action-packed sightseeing day and just want to relax you may just choose to plant yourself on a roof-top terrace or street-side table for the next hour or two from which to watch the bright-lights and bustle of the city. For many this makes for an ideal end to an Osaka day. If you still have some energy left you can simply wander the city’s most lively streets, basking in the multi-colored glare of vibrant neon and soaking up the atmosphere of the city’s 21st century side.

Already mentioned several times in your Osaka day, Dotomburi really should feature at some point in your evening as it is one of the city’s most iconic spots. This canal-side area is a hive of activity at any hour of the day but it takes on a festival air after dark when locals and tourists flock here to enjoy the street food, crowd the eclectic mix of bars and restaurants or simply watch the various watercraft buzzing to and fro on the water. Taking a photograph from the jam-packed bridge here at night, surrounded by towering walls of neon, is almost compulsory.

Night-views

Like many cities Osaka offers some fantastic night views and, like many Japanese cities, Osaka’s skyscrapers offer an ideal way to get the best views of all. King of them all would have to be Abeno Harukas as it is the tallest building in the entire country. Open until late at night the observation decks here offer glass floors to enhance the vertigo-inducing sensation of being 300m in the air. If this doesn’t feel adventurous enough for you sign up for the heliport tour which takes you outside.

Another option is the Prefectural Government Sakishima Building whose 53rd storey observation platform was specifically constructed for enjoying night views. Surprisingly little-visited compared to many of the other options even though it is only second highest to Abeno Harukas, the government building has a glass elevator which takes you to the top – a ride which qualifies as an adventure in itself.

The 187m Umeda Sky Building’s open-air Sky Walk is also worth a mention as its floor on which you walk is beautifully lit at night. Its swirling pinpricks of light on luminous stone almost make you feel as if you are strolling among the stars.

Night River Cruises

If you haven’t already been out cruising the city’s canals and waterways then night-time is a fantastic time to remedy that. Osaka’s after-dark lights are legendary, some even consider them the best in the country. Seeing the light-draped bridges and towering buildings all a-glitter with man-made displays from the water gives you a whole other perspective and it is unquestionably a romantic way to spend the evening for couples. Options range from a quick spin up the Dotomburi-gawa Canal where you can gaze ever upwards at walls of neon signs and flashing displays to those which take you out into the open-ocean. The variety also comes complete with vessels ranging from basic to luxurious while some options also offer live entertainment or choices of drinks and food.

Traveling across the world can be a daunting experience for both new and seasoned travelers. Windstar’s experienced travel advisers are here to guide you through your journey and help you avoid any issues you may encounter along the way. If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime chance to explore one of Japan’s greatest cities, get in touch with one of our vacation planners who will help you find the perfect cruise to Osaka. 

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