15 Memorable Things to do in Osaka, Japan 15 Memorable Things to do in Osaka, Japan

15 Memorable Things to do in Osaka, Japan

Osaka, Japan: where neon lights, mind-boggling structures, and avant-garde fashion meet zen temples, scenic woodland, and narrow lantern-lit alleyways. People often overlook the city of contrasts in favor of bigger places like Tokyo. However, they shouldn’t; it packs fantastic shopping, street food, and some of the most open and friendly locals in Japan! Spend a few days enjoying all the top things to do in Osaka and its surroundings with this complete travel guide.

Things to do in Osaka

Osaka is a great place to start your Japan itinerary, with fantastic connections to nature and other major cities. The port city on Honshu Island suffered extensive bombing during the war, leaving few old buildings standing. This has made it one of the more contemporary cities in Japan.

things to do in Osaka castle japan

However, what it lacks in historical architecture, it makes up for in color and flavor; discover its neon-lit bars, innovative food, well-humored residents, and bold and brave fashion choices.

osaka japan vending machine

1. Shopping in Osaka!

Shop to your heart’s content in Osaka, Japan! The city is home to many different shopping areas, all with their own unique characteristics. Whether you’re looking to peruse high-end designer stores or bargain with vendors at traditional markets, there’s something for every kind of traveler. Don’t miss out on America Mura, the vintage shops area of Osaka. Some of our favorite shopping spots are:

things to do in Osaka vintage shopping

Kuromon Market Osaka

Exploring Kuromon Ichiba is one of the top things to do in Osaka, and it is known as the most famous market in the city. Within this 600-meter-long market, you’ll find street vendors selling traditional made-to-order dishes to both tourists and locals. It’s renowned for its fresh seafood; dine on oysters, scallops, and many other fish here!

Tanga Market in Kitakyushu


Are you a fan of Japanese Anime and Manga culture? Even if you’ve never encountered the colorful, symbolic animations before, it’s an absolute must to immerse yourself in the fanatic community found in Nipponbashi. Here, you’ll see endless comic stores and Anime merchandise. You might even get a glimpse of Japan’s unique and unusual maid cafes!

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osaka street food

Orange Street

The lesser-known Orange Street has long been hailed as ‘the place to go’ for furniture and antiques (dating back to the 1600s) However, after World War 2 and the economic boom in Japan, it became even more popular among Osakans.

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15 Memorable Things to do in Osaka, Japan

These days, there are many types of shops woven in among the old furniture stores, including charming boutiques, general stores, and hipster cafes. It’s become a top thing to do in Osaka for the young and fashionable who love to come here at the weekend to peruse the vintage stores.

orange street osaka japan


Shinsaibashisuji is the busiest shopping street in Osaka, Japan! The long-roofed arcade is home to every type of store you can imagine, from traditional kimono stores to contemporary brands and world-renowned beauty stores (like Lush). There are also plenty of restaurants to choose from if you get hungry. 

japanese building with red lanterns

2. Get up High in Osaka, Japan

What better way to see the city than getting up high into the clouds for a birds-eye view of Osaka’s rooftops and monuments? There are a few great spots to gain some elevation:

Harukas 300

Harukas 300 is Japan’s tallest ‘building’ with a 360-degree view from the top deck. The 16th-floor observatory is free to enter, but you must pay 1,800 yen (9.50 USD) to visit the top deck.

night view osaka japan

For a nail-biting experience, book ‘Edge the Harukas’ and walk along a 20-meter-long ledge attached to the building. The price is 1000 yen (6.50 USD), and you’ll need to show your passport.

Umeda Sky Building Observatory

Visit the Kuchu Teien Observatory, a floating garden that connects the two twin towers of the Umeda Sky Building. Reach the top on a seethrough escalator ride (also the highest escalators in the world!). The entry fee is 1500 yen (10 USD)

osaka castle view


This is one of the most Iconic structures in Osaka, towering over the vibrant area of Shinsekei. At the top, there is a fantastic open deck, complete with a glass floor. And the adrenaline doesn’t stop there! Visitors can also use the ‘Tower Slider’, a giant slide that brings you from 60 meters up to the bottom — in just 10 seconds.

The entry fee is 1000 yen (6.50 USD) and an additional 1000 yen if you want to take the slide.

things to do in Osaka tsutenkaku tower japan

3. Shinsekai District

Once you’ve experienced the incredible views from Tsūtenkaku Tower, take a wander around the district of Shinsekai. Known as the ‘New World’ of Osaka, the iconic street is home to contemporary stores, food stalls, and outdoor games. At night, every storefront glows with bright lights, including the Tsūtenkaku Tower, giving it a fun fairground-style feel.

things to do in Osaka shinsekai district japan

4. Shitennō-ji Temple

One of the top things to do in Osaka is to visit the oldest temple in Japan: Shitennō-ji. This temple is known as one of the most important in Osaka, believed to have been built by the state thousands of years ago. The five-story temple has since been rebuilt but remains in its original style, situated among beautiful gardens. It’s a lovely place to come and relax, providing a quiet oasis away from the crowds of nearby Shinsekai.  

things to do in Osaka shitenno-ji temple japan

Entry Fee: The outer temple is free to visit, but it’s worth paying 300 yen (2 USD) to enter the inner precinct, where you’ll find the five-story pagoda (you can also climb to the top!). The gardens cost 300 yen (2 USD), and the Treasure House, which houses ancient scriptures and paintings, has an entrance fee of 500 yen (3.50 USD).

Goshuin Stamp

Don’t forget to get your unique temple stamp on your visit to Shitennō-ji Temple! In Japan, it’s common for people to queue up at temples and shrines with decorated books ready for their Goshuin (shrine and temple stamps). Each shrine has its own individual stamp, so it’s a fun thing to collect on your trip! 

goshuin stamp book japan

Tip: Normally, collecting your stamp is donation-based. However, we were unable to find a free stamp at Shitennō-ji. Instead, Hannah found a vendor who drew a unique one for her especially. The cost was 300 yen (2 USD) – a bargain!

flea market osaka japan

5. America-mura (Top Thing to do in Osaka!)

The coolest neighborhood of Osaka, and our favorite, was America-Mura. Here the chilled street vibes of Osaka are in full swing, with music, colorful vending machines, abstract murals, vintage shops, trendy food spots, and decorated street lanterns. Visiting this area was one of our favorite things to do in Japan!

best things to do in Osaka america-mura japa

Even though it’s next to Mido-suji, a street laden with designer brands, America-Mura is a total contrast, with its small-town feel. Instead, you’ll find young people pushing the limits of fashion, searching for vintage treasures, or visiting the many tattoo parlors and piercing bars. It’s also a top spot for dancing and socializing at night, with some incredible nightclubs and bars. 

japan fashion osaka america-mura

6. Dōtonbori District in Osaka

Welcome the busiest and most atmospheric street in Osaka: Dōtonbori. Here, you’ll find flashing neon lights, bright Japanese signs, LED billboards, wildly decorated storefronts, and unique restaurants. 

things to do in Osaka dotonbori river cruise

During the day, grab some delicious street food, like the famous Takoyaki Octopus Balls. After your stomach is full, visit the jaw-dropping Don Quijote, a massive store selling every item imaginable (it even has a giant Ferris wheel that you can ride on!). For a different perspective, cruise along the Dōtonbori Canal, where you can see some of the area’s most famous sites.

At night, Dōtonbori becomes one of the best things to do in Osaka when the neon lights are turned on and the crowds flock. As you take in all the brightly lit signage, look out for the famous ‘running man’ Glico Sign — one of the biggest billboards in town. 

things to do in Osaka running man Glico Sign japan

Tip: For a totally unique thing to do in Osaka, book a go-kart and dress up as your favorite video game character. You’ll pass through many of Osaka’s most well-loved sites, including Dōtonbori.

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things to do in osaka japan best restaurant

7. Hozenji Yokocho

Discover the charming Hozenji Yokocho, a narrow, stone-paved street full of tiny traditional restaurants. Even though it’s located close to Dōtonbori, it feels a world away as you dive into time-worn alleyways. In the evening, warmly lit lanterns show the way to small, bustling eateries — often frequented by the rich and famous of Osaka, Japan.

japanese restaurant osaka

As you explore, look out for the small temple: Hozenji (the street’s namesake). The temple is home to a famous moss-covered statue of the Buddhist deity, Fudo, who is said to grant wishes. You’ll also see local people splashing water on the statue for luck and protection from evil.

temple osaka

8. Osaka Castle (Top Thing to do in Osaka!)

Osaka Castle is symbolic of Osaka, much like the Eiffel Tower is for France and the Colosseum for Rome. The imposing castle sits on its own island, overlooking the city, and surrounded by a deep moat. 

best things to do in osaka castle japan

The surroundings are characterized by beautiful gardens filled with different types of trees; in fall, it’s spectacular with the warm-colored foliage, and in Spring, it’s a much-loved spot to see the Cherry Blossom. On weekends, local people gather in the gardens to relax in the grass, listen to live music, and look at the picturesque castle.

osaka castle details

Visiting Information Osaka Castle

Osaka Castle is the city’s most popular site. Follow these tips to get the most out of your visit:

  • Things to see: Inside the castle, you’ll find historical items and an 8th-floor observation deck for amazing views.
  • Entry Fee: Tickets cost 600 yen (4 USD). We recommend purchasing your tickets in advance. However, if you leave it until the day, don’t worry; ticket lines go down fast.
  • Duration: Spend 1-2 hours visiting the entire site. If you’d like to visit inside the castle, arrive early as it will get crowded.
  • Opening hours: 9 AM – 5 PM (extended during summer and cherry blossom season).
osaka castle gate
  • Kimono Rental: Take some photos next to the castle wearing a traditional Kimono. In Japan, this is not considered cultural appropriation. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; locals encourage visitors to dress in Kimonos and better understand the cultural practice. Reserve your kimono online.
  • Stamps: Don’t forget to get your unique stamp on your visit to Osaka Castle! Sometimes, limited edition stamps are released during the year for various festivals or to mark the changing of the seasons.
osaka castle

9. Visit the Deer in Nara

While planning your Japan itinerary, you’ve probably seen the iconic images of cute deer interacting with tourists: this is the beautiful city of Nara! This city is unlike any other in Japan, home to expansive woodlands, endless temples, botanical gardens, and romantic pagodas — all accompanied by 1000+ friendly (and cheeky!) deer.

Visiting during fall is especially lovely when the leaves pop in warm reds, oranges, and yellows. (Book one of the many incredible tours around Nara)

things to do osaka visit nara park japan

Admission to Nara Park, an area close to the city center, is free. However, on arrival, you may want to purchase some natural crackers (200 yen/1.50 USD) to feed the deer. Please only feed them the crackers provided.

things to do osaka nara park deer

Getting to Nara Park

From Osaka Namba Station, you have two options for getting to Nara:

1) Yamatoji Line: Take the Yamatoji Line train from Osaka Namba Station directly to the JR Nara Station (45 minutes). Holders of the Japan Rail pass can use it for this trip. 

2) Kintetsu Rapid Express: Take the Kintetsu Rapid Express train from Osaka Namba Station to Kintetsu Nara Station (30 minutes). Please note that the Japan Rail Pass does not cover this route, although sometimes you can find other discounts online!

mochi japan

10. Stay in a Koyasan Temple

One of the top things to do in Osaka is to spend the day in the sacred temple village of Koyasan. Discover over 100 stunning temples dotted up the slopes of Mount Koya and gain a deeper understanding of this holy Buddhist pilgrimage site. It’s the perfect place to unwind after city life: breathe in the cold mountain air and visit the tranquil, snow-covered cemetery and gardens.

things to do osaka trip to koyasan cemetery

If you have time on your Japan itinerary, don’t miss the incredible experience of staying overnight in a Koyasan temple. The modest Buddhist lodgings are very traditional, complete with basic futons, sliding doors, and shared bathrooms; it’s the perfect opportunity to live as the monks have for hundreds of years!

During your stay, you’ll also be asked if you’d like to join the monks for a typical dinner, morning prayer, and meditation. Don’t miss out on this top thing to do in Osaka (one of our favorite adventures in Japan!).

Getting there: The journey from Osaka to Koyasan is relatively straightforward. First, take the train from Osaka Namba Station to Gokurabashi (1.5 hours). From here, take the cable car up the mountain to Koyosan for 390 yen (2.50 USD). Please note that the Japan Rail Pass does not cover this route.

things to do osaka temple hotel koyasan

11. Trip to Nachi Falls

Located close to the fishing town of Nachikatsuura and nestled among the Kii mountain range, discover the extraordinary Nachi Falls. Known as Japan’s tallest free-falling waterfall, the water plunges from 133 meters high, surrounded by luscious greenery and ancient woodland. 

things to do osaka nachi falls

The falls are sacred to many people throughout Japan, as it’s believed they are home to an important Shinto deity. It’s also one of the stops on the famous Kumano Kudo pilgrimage route, and many visitors stop here as part of this walk. 

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nachi falls forest japan

Apart from gazing in wonder at the majestic falls, you can visit a few other interesting sites in the area. One iconic spot is the red Seiganto-ji Temple, one of Japan’s most scenic pagodas, framed by a backdrop of the mighty falls. 

things to do osaka nachi falls temple japan

Close to the temple is the Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine, an important Hiro Shrine. From the base of Nachi Falls, take a 30-minute hike up charming stone steps to the shrine for beautiful views.

Getting to Nachi Falls

Getting to Nachi Falls from Osaka is relatively simple, but it does take a bit of time:

  1. Take the train from Tennoji Station in Osaka to the JR Kii-Katsuura Station in the center of Nachikatsuura. It’s a beautiful coastal train ride that takes around 4 hours (covered by your Japan Rail Pass).
  2. Once at Nachikatsuura, take a bus headed from Nachi Falls in 30 minutes. 
  3. From the bus drop-off, it’s just a 5-minute walk to Nachi Falls.

Hotels in Nachikatsuura

As the journey is relatively long to Nachi Falls, many people opt to stay in Nachikatsuura for the night. This is also a good idea if you want to explore more of the area. There are plenty of budget hotels, as well as the more luxurious hot spring hotels.

12. Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine

A wonderful thing to do in Osaka is to visit Sumiyoshi Taisha, one of the country’s most famous and beautiful Buddhist shrines. Founded in the 3rd century, it’s remained the headquarters for all Sumiyoshi Shrines in Japan.

The shrine is primarily known, though, for its spectacular Sorihashi bridge. This high-arched red bridge crosses over a pretty pond and adds to the charm of this peaceful spot. Best of all, it’s free to visit! 

13. TeamLab Botanical Gardens

For an unusual thing to do in Osaka, visit the teamLab Botanical Gardens! If you’ve already visited the famous teamLab Planets in Tokyo, you’ll be pleased to know that the botanical gardens have a similar digital art concept. The night-time project explores how nature can become art (without harming the plants) by using light and sound installations. Plus, everything is interactive, transforming according to weather conditions and the visiting humans. 

things to do osaka teamlab botanical gardens

14. Minoo Park

For a beautiful day out in nature, head for Minoo Park – located a short journey away from the city. The spectacular woodland area is popular with hikers and nature enthusiasts who want to breathe in the fresh air and visit the picturesque waterfalls. In fall, it is even more unique when all the maple leaves turn a variety of deep reds, burnt oranges, and sunny yellows.

things to do osaka minoo park

Getting to Minoo Park 

  • Start at Osaka-umeda Station
  • Take the Hankyu Takarazu Line Express Train to Tazarazuka
  • Stop at Ishibashi Handai-mae Station and transfer onto the Hankyu-Minoo line towards Minoo. The train journey takes approximately 25 minutes in total
  • From Minoo Station, it’s a 1-hour walk to the falls along a pretty forest trail
  • Please note that the journey to Minoo Falls is not covered by the Japan Rail Pass

15. Universal Studios (Fun Thing to do in Osaka)

Osaka, Japan, is the home of the world-famous Universal Studios! If you have time on your trip, spend a fun day out enjoying the theme park and the various rides. Get your adrenaline pumping on rapid Jurassic Park rollercoasters, eat snacks in the shape of your favorite film characters, and visit a real-life Hogwarts castle.

things to do osaka universal studios

Best Cafes and Restaurants in Osaka

Street food in Osaka is king, and you can find sweet and savory delicacies on almost every corner. In fact, the city is so well-loved for its cuisine that it’s fondly referred to as ‘the nation’s kitchen’. 

Make sure to try the delicious Osaka Style Pressed Sushi! This type of sushi is made with brightly-colored toppings and vinegar rice and molded into perfect rectangles.

cool restaurant osaka japan

Some of our favorite restaurants in Osaka are:

  • Sakana no Jimbe
  • Falafel Sababa
  • B portland Coffe Bakery
  • Bistro Tachizushi Kalimotxo
  • Gyukatsu Motomura
  • Paprika Shokudo Vegan
  • Okonomiyaki Sakaba O
  • 炭火焼鳥 一兆 日本橋本店
  • Trattoria Pizzeria Allegro
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Tip: Bring your reusable water bottle with you; you can drink water from the taps in most places in Japan! This is an excellent way to save money and travel plastic-free.

sushi restaurants osaka japan

Where to Stay in Osaka, Japan

Locate yourself close to all the best things to do in Osaka by staying close to the bustling areas of Shinsaibashi, Dotonbori, or Namba. America Mura was our absolute favorite district in Osaka and is also a fantastic place to stay. However, if you want to stay in this fashion hotspot, we recommend booking well in advance, as hotels and guesthouses get booked very quickly.

osaka restaurant

How Many Days in Osaka?

We recommend 2-3 days to see all the top things to do in Osaka. However, if you want to see some of the beautiful places outside the city, like Nara Park or Nachi Falls, 5 days is a good option.

How to Visit Osaka

Osaka has two major airports: Kansai International Airport and Itami Airport (domestic). Although Kansai Airport is further away from the city center, it has excellent public transport connections and serves many destinations worldwide. 

Find flights to Osaka ✈️
metro japan

You’ll most likely fly into Kansai, where you can take a leisurely train from the airport with a seat reservation for 1350 yen (9 USD) per person. The journey takes 50-70 minutes, depending on which district you’re heading to in Osaka.

Osaka to Tokyo

Flying into or out of Tokyo? Use your Japan Rail Pass to book bullet train tickets to Osaka (3-4 hours).

Osaka to Kyoto

The Shinkansen takes just 15 minutes to travel from Osaka to Kyoto. Alternatively, the JR trains take 30 minutes to travel from Osaka Station to Kyoto Station.

vending machine japan

Getting Around

Traveling around Osaka is a dream; the organized Japanese public transport system makes it super easy to get from A to B. Metros, and trains reach most of the top things to do in Osaka, and you’ll also find excellent connections further afield using the high-speed Shinkansen (bullet train). 

taxi osaka

Osaka is also known as a bike-friendly city, and you’ll see lots of locals and tourists enjoying the extensive network of bike lanes. Use these to visit some of the city’s best sites and enjoy cycling along the waterfront for a more peaceful activity in Osaka. 

things to do osaka bike

Japan Rail Pass

The Japan Rail Pass gives you unlimited access to all public transport throughout Japan, so it’s a great option if you plan on taking the Shinkansen (bullet train) several times. It’s also multi-use for other trains, ferries, and buses throughout the country. 

bullet train japan osaka

How Much Does Osaka Cost?

Like most destinations in Japan, Osaka is on the more expensive side to visit. However, prices are lower than in bigger cities like Tokyo, and you can keep to your budget if necessary. For example, by eating street food at the markets, walking or renting a bike, or booking a hostel for your trip. Visit Osaka outside of the more popular seasons of Spring and Fall, and you’ll also see a reduction in accommodation prices. 

osaka castle garden

Budget Tip: If you’d like a quick snack or an affordable takeaway lunch, we recommend going to the supermarkets 7-Eleven, Family Mart, or Lawson. You can find delicious Onigiri (a rice ball with fish inside and packed in crunchy seaweed) or even mix a cup of frozen fruits into a smoothie.

Costs of Traveling in Osaka

Travel on a budget in Osaka, from $390 − $520 USD weekly per person, mid-range $1600 − $3230 USD, and high-end from $2910 − $4540 USD. However, costs depend on factors like accommodation, transportation, and activities. We did not include flights. Check flight prices here

* Average daily costs
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Best Time to Visit Osaka

To see Osaka at its most beautiful, Spring and Fall are the times to visit. During this time, the trees around most of the city’s popular attractions turn candy pink with cherry blossoms or showcase the warm colors of fall.


For day trips outside the city to places like Minoo Park or Nachi Falls, with expansive woodland, the autumn season elevates the scenery to another level.

04/06/2024 https://www.saltinourhair.com/japan/things-to-do-osaka/
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