The Best Sights in Osaka

Discover an Amazing City in Kansai, Japan


When people think of Japan, most will think of Tokyo, the nation’s largest city and capitol. There are other great Japanese cities with a lot to offer tourists, however. Almost equally well known is Osaka, in the Kansai region of Japan - about three hours west of Tokyo. Close to other major cities in Kansai - like Kyoto, Nara, and Kobe - Osaka isn’t as international as Tokyo but makes up for it in other ways. The people are friendlier and more laid back, and the food is some of the best in all of Japan, with local foods such as takoyaki (octopus dumplings) and okonomiyaki (fried Japanese pancake) being sold at Osaka's many street stalls and restaurants. 

Like Seoul, South Korea, and Taipei, Taiwan, Osaka doesn’t contain the amount of draws for tourists as other large Asian cities. Like the Korean capitol, Osaka’s appeal comes from fun neighborhoods, great people, and lots of restaurants and shopping. Unlike Seoul, Osaka is close to other cities that are great for tourists. You’re only an hour away from historical Japanese cities like Kyoto or Nara - so a stay in Osaka gives you the best of both worlds. You get the excitement of a big city, and historical sights nearby in more quiet parts of Japan. Osaka makes a great base for a trip in Kansai, but it has enough to stand out in its own right.




Located in the southern part of Osaka, the Namba district (also spelled Nanba) contains some of the best shopping and nightlife in the city. It’s also a central transportation hub, with many train lines leading to Osaka and other areas in Kansai. Some of the most iconic sights in Osaka are here - like Glico Man, seen in many tourist’s pictures of the city. There’s also the Dotonbori River, which gives a nice hint of nature to an otherwise urban area.

 Umeda Sky Building

Located near JR Osaka and Hankyu Umeda stations (in the Kita - or North - district of Osaka), Umeda Sky Building has an excellent view of the city below. Access to the observatory is a reasonable 700 yen (around 7 dollars), and it contains a the same restaurants and shopping as you’d expect at similar towers in East Asia. Unique to the Umeda Sky Building are the Lover’s Seats - sit down with your lover in a specialized seat, hold down a button, and a heart lights up around you. Perfect for taking memorable pictures on a Japanese trip with your significant other. Umeda also contains a lot of great shopping nearby - like Yodobashi Camera.

 Sumiyoshi Shrine

Osaka is not as well known as Kyoto for its history and temples. Yet there are still a few worthwhile sights in Japan’s third largest city. One of the smaller, and lesser known of these is Sumiyoshi Shrine. Entrance is completely free, and its quiet atmosphere and nearby parks make it a great place for those looking for a break from the big city atmosphere of the rest of Osaka.




Located in the Shinsekai district of Osaka, Tsutenkaku is another one of the city’s most attractive spots for tourists. Known for the neighborhood its in and its neon logo, the tower provides a great nighttime view of Osaka and the typical restaurants and tourist shops at reasonable prices. The Shinsekai neighborhood is also a bit more colorful and down to earth - unlike the cleaner and more central Umeda, Shinsekai contains a lot of pachinko parlors, hole in the wall restaurants, and street food stalls. Locals will tell you it’s a dangerous area of Osaka, but like all parts of Japan it’s relatively safe.

 Tsuruhashi - a look at Korean culture in Japan

One neighborhood that’s off the tourist track, but still worth visiting for those wanting to visit a unique neighborhood, is Tsuruhashi, Osaka’s Koreatown. Unlike Shin-Okubo in Tokyo - a neighborhood filled with recent Korean immigrants - the Korean population in Tsuruhashi has been around for several generations. So while you’ll find a lot of great Korean businesses and restaurants - selling Korean cuisine such as samgyeopsal and bibimbap - the area doesn't feel Korean, but rather like a fusion of the two countries. It has the same atmosphere as the rest of Japan, without any Korean language in sight, but it’s still an interesting curiosity for anyone interested in Korean culture.

While it doesn’t contain the same draws for tourists as other parts of Japan, Osaka still has a lot of great things to offer. It’s laid back character, excellent restaurants, and easy access to other parts of Japan make Osaka a worthwhile place to visit for anyone wanting to travel to the country.

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