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Things to Do in Osaka - page 2

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Osaka Central Fish Market
2 Tours and Activities

It’s well before dawn in Osaka when merchants, fishermen, and chefs gather to auction off – and bid on – the day’s catch, fresh produce, and seasonal ingredients at theOsaka Central Fish Market. The Markets opened in 1931 and are one of Osaka’s main attractions today. Osaka’s food-loving culture starts at 4:15am with the Refrigerated Tuna Seller. A bell is rung, and giant, whole tuna fish are placed on display. The tuna sells out within the hour, and the bidders move on throughout the enormous 320,000 square meter venue to try their luck at winning other coveted food items.

The vegetable wholesale market takes place on the third floor. The cost of a box of vegetables at the wholesale markets is approximately half of what it is in a grocery store. The fruit markets show off the ripe, in-season bounty on conveyor-belts. The sushi restaurant Endo, open since 1907, attracts vendors and market workers but also welcomes tourists. The inexpensive, small restaurant is one of Osaka’s best. By early morning the auctions have completed in the nearly 200 shops housed here.

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LEGOLAND® Discovery Center Osaka
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2 Tours and Activities

Experience the ultimate indoor LEGO®adventure at LEGOLAND®Discovery Center Osaka. Located inside Tempozan Marketplace, this interactive LEGO-themed entertainment park lets kids and adults build, explore, learn, and play in a 3,400-square-foot (316-square-meter) space full of games, displays, workshops, rides, and a 4D cinema.

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Tempozan Harbor Village
1 Tour and Activity

Located on the waterfront of Osaka Bay about 20 minutes outside of the central business district, Tempozan Harbor Village comprises a modern shopping and entertainment complex where many of Osaka’s top attractions are located.

At the heart of the village towers the Tempozan Ferris Wheel, the largest and tallest ferris wheel on the planet until the opening of the London Eye. The sixty passenger carriages on the massive wheel take passengers to a height of more than 350 feet for spectacular views of Osaka, the harbor and Mount Rokko. Also in Tempozan Harbor Village, the Osaka Aquarium (Kaiyukan) ranks among the world’s biggest and is home to nearly 600 species of marine creatures.

The Suntory Museum cultural complex hosts various art and design exhibitions and also houses a massive IMAX Theater complex with a 3D screen. Hungry visitors can head to the Tempozan Marketplace to sample from the Japanese food court offerings.

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National Bunraku Theater
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If you’re interested in seeing a bunraku puppet show while in Japan, Osaka’s National Bunraku Theater is arguably the best place to do so. The art of bunraku puppetry dates back more than 300 years, and it reached its peak in Osaka in the 1740s.

A typical performance at this theater features a series of puppets, each requiring three handlers working in tandem to operate it. Unlike in other forms of puppetry, the bunraku puppeteers appear openly on stage. Performances typically last the better part of a day, with each of two halves lasting three to four hours, but it is possible to buy a ticket for only one part or even for just a single act. With these tickets, visitors can get a sense of the art form without spending a whole day watching it.

While the plays (typically traditional samurai dramas) are in Japanese, English language headphone guides that explain what’s happening onstage can be purchased.

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Umeda Sky Building
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1 Tour and Activity

Modern architecture goes space age and skywards at the cutting-edge Umeda Sky Building. The edifice is made up of two glass towers that rise 567 feet (173 meters) and are connected by a futuristic observation platform with an amazing 360-degree view from the 40th floor. An escalator in a glass tube takes visitors up the last five storeys.

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Prefecture Government Sakishima Building (Cosmo Tower)
1 Tour and Activity

Osaka’s Prefecture Government Sakishima Building (Cosmo Tower) center of trade information linked with 282 cities around the world, soars at 256 meters (840 feet), and the observatory provides wonderful views of Osaka and the port. With 3 stories below ground, and another 55 above ground, it's the highest tower in Western Japan.

The ride to the top is in a glass-walled elevator, taking just 80 seconds to soar to the 52nd floor.The views are specially magical and twinkling at dusk and night when you can watch the sun set over Osaka. You can even see planes taking off and landing at Kansai Airport!

There are several restaurants and bars, jazz music, and cozy seats designed for two that provide a comfortable vantage point to sit back and take in the views from the top of the world.

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Osaka City Central Hall
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The neo-Renaissance red brick Osaka CityCentral Hall built between 1913 and 1918, rivals Osaka Castle with its beauty and bronze domed roof.

The structure came about when wealthy Osaka stockbroker Einosuke Iwamoto returned to Japan after visiting the United States, where he was inspired and impressed by the American businessmen who contributed their wealth to the construction of public buildings such as Carnegie Hall. This led to Iwamoto’s donation of 1 million yen to the city of Osaka so that a similar hall could be built in his city. Iwamoto ultimately passed away at the age of 39 during the construction of Osaka City Hall, and the Iwamoto Memorial Room in the basement of the building now commemorates his generosity.

The building sits among several other historical structures from the Meiji and Taisho periods, making the area a pleasant place for a leisurely walk when the weather’s nice.

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Kids Plaza Osaka
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1 Tour and Activity

A unique educational museum where kids can learn through play, Kids Plaza Osaka features three levels of interactive and immersive exhibits, activities, games, and play areas that encourage creativity and personal development. Enjoy a fun day of learning at this popular, family-friendly attraction.

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Asahi Beer Suita Factory

What are the "hops" in beer? What purpose does the barley serve? See the manufacturing process of the most ubiquitous name in Japanese beer, Asahi, at the Asahi Beer Factory. Located just outside of Osaka city in Suita, Asahi offers daily tours every 30 minutes. On the tour, guests see, smell, and touch the hops and barley, along with other ingredients that go into brewing some of the world's most famous beer.

The in-depth tour lasts a solid 90 minutes. Don't get bogged down in the science, though; the last 20 minutes are reserved for tasting the brews. Guests are offered sampling glasses, and for the time allotted, they are bottomless. That's right, guests can taste until they have had their fill. While sipping on different beers, guests can enjoy an expansive garden, as well as Asahi's "World Can Collection," an enormous display of more than 3,000 beer cans from all over the world. Before leaving, guests have an opportunity to visit the Asahi gift shop.

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Amami Onsen Nanten-En

Watch snow fall and cling to tree branches along the mountainside while relaxing in the natural hot springs at Amami Onsen Nanten-En. Onsens are said to have healing powers from the mineral content in the natural flowing water. In addition to the healing water, Amami Onsen is a traditional Japanese inn, or ryokan. The inn is nestled in the mountains of Kyoto prefecture, a mere hour train ride from Osaka. The sights and sound of the city give way to tranquility and picturesque views along the route, which concludes near the remote Onsen.

Amami Onsen features a 10,000 square meter Japanese-style garden. From the cherry blossoms that burst to life in the spring to the crimson, orange, and gold fall foliage all the way to the fairy tale winter wonderland, the garden is one of Amami Onsen's best attractions. The Onsen can be enjoyed on a day trip from Osaka, but to get the full experience, guests should consider staying at least one night. Along with lounging in traditional Japanese robes, sleeping on plush bedding and calming the nerves in the hot springs, guests enjoy traditional home-cooked meals made with seasonal ingredients.

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More Things to Do in Osaka

Spa World

Spa World

While Japan is famous for its hot springs, very few naturally occur in the Osaka area. Luckily, visitors looking for a little relaxation of the soaking variety can find it—seven floors of it—at Spa World. One of the world’s largest hot springs complexes, Spa World bills itself as a sort of theme park, with onsen (hot springs pools) and saunas from around the world.

The complex is divided into various themed areas. The onsen occupy two floors and two different areas: the European Zone, with pools fashioned in styles of ancient Greece and Rome, Italy, Spain and Finland; and the Asian Zone, featuring Japanese, Indonesian, Persian and Middle Eastern-style baths. Another floor houses eight themed saunas, while yet another floor contains an indoor water park complete with three slides.

Visitors will also find a hotel with Western and Japanese-style accommodations, a food court, full-service spa, gym, gift shop, arcade and TV room within the complex.

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Isshin-ji Temple

Isshin-ji Temple

Dating back to 1185, it's said that the Buddhist Isshin-ji Temple was founded by Honen, a Pure Land Buddhist (a type of Buddhism based on Mahayana Buddhism).

Guests can see the temple's many urns and mausoleums set around the property, which house the ashes of Buddhists from around the country. In 1887, a priest commissioned a sculptor to create statues of Amida (the principle Buddha in Mahayana Buddhism) by mixing the ashes of the deceased with resin to preserve their remains. Although six of these statues were destroyed in a World War II bombing near the temple, a seventh was later built from the remains of the others and today contains the ashes of nearly 220,000 people.

Additionally, the temple’s contemporary gate is an eye-catcher, made of glass, steel and concrete instead of traditional wood. Accompanying the gate is the Hiso-den building, which was built to resemble a church. Both structures were planned and designed by the current head priest, who also happens to be an architect.

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Museum of Oriental Ceramics

Museum of Oriental Ceramics

The finest ceramics from the Orient – Japan, China and Korea – are all gathered under the roof of Osaka’s Museum of Oriental Ceramics, and the collection is considered to be the best ceramic collection in the world.

The museum collects, studies and conserves all the pieces in their collection and aims to share their knowledge with visitors through the museum's modern facility such as earthquake shock-absorbent platforms, natural and artificial lighting techniques and even display cases that efficiently rotate to provide the best view possible.

The focus of the permanent collection is the Chinese and Korean ceramics of the Ataka Collection, and Korean ceramics of the Rhee Byung-Chang Collection. More than 2,700 pieces make up the collection, including specially lit cabinets of exquisite Nara ceramics, green-glazed ware from Korea and Tang-dynasty celadon ware from China.

Blue and white porcelain from Vietnam is highly prized, along with Japanese Edo-period figurines. The museum also displays special exhibitions from time to time, focusing on specific eras and styles.

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