Osaka is the second largest cosmopolitan area in Japan, and one of the largest in the world, with an estimated 19 million people calling this area home. Osaka sits a few notches down from Tokyo on the chaos belt and is well worth a visit if you have the time. Here is a list of things you must do when visiting Osaka.
If you would like to read more about navigating Osaka please see Quick Guide: Japan.
1. Stroll through dotonbori
Dotonbori is one of the most popular entertainment, shopping and dining destination in Osaka. Chances are that most of the pictures you have seen of Osaka are actually taken in Dotonbori. Dotonbori is a very beautiful part of Osaka running right alongside the Dotonbori canal. At night this place completely transforms, coming to life with its glowing neon signs lighting up your path and you explore the many buzzing shops on offer. Take the time to explore this district and grab a bite to eat, you will not be sorry you did as we ate some of the best pork noodles here.
2. Osaka Castle
If you are a fan of castles then this one is for you. Osaka Castle sits proud on an expanse of gardens that really come to life in spring and autumn. When visiting the castle there is also some pretty impressive infrastructure that was used to protect the castle this includes the secondary citadels, turrets, gates, huge stone walls and moats. You can read more about the castle here.
3. Osaka Aquarium KAIyukan
Being a marine biologist i was very impressed with this aquariums variety of life forms. We spent a great deal of time here admiring the animals and taking the time to appreciate what a truly amazing world we live in – some of the highlights included the whale sharks, otters, penguins, sun fish and the array of sharks. This is well and truly worth a visit when you are in Osaka.
4. Shop at Shinsaibashi-suji
This is one of Osaka’s oldest and busiest shopping destination totalling roughly 600 metres in length. If you are in search of a refuge on a rainy day head or would just like to shop up a storm this undercover shopping arcade is the perfect option for you.
5. Day trip to Mt Koya
Mount Koya is a small, secluded temple town built on the mountaintop of the Wakayama Prefecture (just south of Osaka). This magical little place is the centre of Shingon Buddhism and is one of the most holiest places in Japan. It is one of the best locations to do a temple lodge and live like a monk for a night or two. Although it is off-the-beaten path it was very easy to access from Osaka.