Osaka is the second city in importance after Tokyo and is modern and cosmopolitan yet steeped in history and culture. For those wishing to eat, drink and dance the night away, Osaka is one of Japan’s top party destinations. Not only for hedonists, there are plenty of fascinating museums, unique puppet theaters and historic temples to get stuck into instead of fried octopus ball.

Osaka Castle Park is among the main attractions in Osaka and although it is only a reconstruction of the original dating back to 16th century, it is worth a visit for its historical value. If possible, try to visit in cherry blossom season from late March to April, when the magic of the castle is brought to life by the beauty of the flowering pink trees. In contrast, the ultra-modern Umeda Sky Building soars over the city skyline at 173 meters and offers spectacular views across the urban area from its rooftop observatory.

Osaka Museum of History gives a good overview for those interested in Osaka’s curious past as Japan’s capital right up until the American attacks of 1945. To see one of Japan’s oldest shrines, visit the tranquil gardens of Sumiyoshi Taisha, featuring a pond under the sacred bridge. Perhaps of greater interest to many visitors is Osaka’s hip shopping complex Shinsaibashi, with everything on offer from top-range department stores to small, reasonably priced boutiques.


Minami: this colorful entertainment district is the center of Osaka nightlife and is also home to the Shinsaibashi shopping complex.

National Bunraku Theater: Osaka is home to traditional Japanese Bunraku puppetry and this is the place to see the best performances throughout the year.

Osaka Aquarium: considered Japan’s best aquarium and housed in a unique modern building, you will find 15 tanks here each representing a particular region of the Pacific Rim.

International Peace Center: a museum offering displays on the devastation caused by WWII.

Osaka Expo Park: offers a range of cultural, amusement and sport facilities in addition to the Nature and Culture and the Japanese gardens.

Osaka Castle: a spectacular castle overlooking the river, it features an interesting museum documenting the history of the castle.

Umeda Sky Building: one of Osaka’s most recognizable sites made up of two tower buildings connected by a bridge at the top. Check out the views from the rooftop observatory.