First time in Osaka? Here are some places to check out.

Curriculum: The Sights, Sounds, Smells, and Tastes of Japan
Published: 2024-03-02
First time in Osaka?  Here are some places to check out.

Osaka is a similar city to Tokyo and yet different. It has its own endearing aspects that make it different, and above all, even the personality of its inhabitants is different than those of a typical person in Tokyo. In some ways Osaka resembles Tokyo, but we found that the people who live in Osaka are more outgoing and friendly than their Tokyo counterparts.  Visit and judge for yourself!

The food is different too - try okonomiyaki or ramen and you will see the difference. Anyway, and interesting place to visit for a day or two. And it's so close to Kyoto that you will be tempted to take a break from temple visiting to explore the largest city in the Kansai region.

The places mentioned here are not necessarily in any particular order. We only spent a day here so not so much included in the list. I understand that there is an aquarium that might be worth a visit too.

Osaka Castle - Glorious structure on top of the hill.

Perhaps the number one attraction, the castle is built on a hill and overlooks the city. On a nice day you can see quite a bit from the top of the castle. Lots of exhibits inside the castle to get yourself up to speed on what its role in history was.  It is a bit of a walk to the top but well worth it.  If you'd like a boat ride on the moat surrounding the castle go to Osakajo Gozabune Pier. Note that the tour is in Japanese language only.  More...


Dotombori - colorful, eclectic, and often crowded.

A cool area situated along a canal, Dotombori has numerous restaurants and cafes. Great place for lunch or dinner. And very colorful, with 3D signage on many of Dotombori Dori (Street) shops and restaurants.  More...


The famous Glico advertisement is here, which is over 80 years old and a favorite spot to take pictures. What is Glico? Know of Pocky Sticks? They are the manufacturer!  Anyway, it is a must go to place if you visit Osaka.


Namba and Sennichimae - get your shopping done here!

There are around 8-10 major shopping areas in Osaka, but these are the ones I visited and they are pretty cool. Namba is more known for anime and teens, while Sennichimae is more mainstream. Both are covered areas resembling a mall, so good to do on a rainy day.  More on Namba...  More on Sennichimae...

More than likely you will be arriving at Shin-Osaka Station.  The area around the station is chock full of shops, department stores, and restaurants.  We stayed more towards to the Osaka Castle area in Chuo ward.  

You will be happy to hear that if you bought a Suica or Pasmo card while visiting Tokyo, they will work on the Osaka train and subway system too.

Ok, that's all I have for now on Osaka.  Yes, Universal Studios is in Osaka, but with all the other stuff that Osaka has to offer, it probably will be low on your list of places to visit.  There's also an aquarium, which I understand is very good.  It may be something to see if you have a bad weather day.  Anwyay, I will update this post after we visit Osaka again later this year.  Enjoy!