As of 2017, Osaka’s thriving population ranks it as the third largest city in Japan and it serves as an important part of the economic stability of the Kansai region as a commercial port. It is a modern city with skyscrapers, headquarters to businesses and corporations, and up-to-the-minute technology that coexists with historical landmarks, shrines, temples, attractions, and the ever-popular cherry blossoms. It is a city of interest, activity, history, and culture that makes it a premier vacation or business destination.

Osaka Castle.

Things to Do in Osaka

Morning: Breakfast Is Served

A small venue with a fast-paced atmosphere, Mizuno is known for its diverse and creative selection of savory okonomiyaki (pancakes) since 1945. With your meal freshly made while you watch, you can enjoy a late breakfast, lunch, or dinner at this busy venue open from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The breakfast menu at Eggs and Things is mouthwatering with its extensive selection of choices that includes steak, ham, spam, corned beef hash, teriyaki chicken, bacon, or sausage served with eggs. If these menu items don’t whet your appetite, consider the creative omelets, pancakes and waffles, crepes, eggs Benedict, French toast, assorted sides, and specialty toppings that round out the menu. Dinner is also served beginning at 5:00 p.m. Reservations are required.

Mid-Morning Adventures

Once you’ve fueled your body with a sumptuous breakfast, head to Universal Studios Japan and burn up some energy. The movie-themed amusement park has stage shows, street shows, special attractions, rides for all ages, movies, shops, and restaurants for a full day of fun.

Other venues and attractions that kids will enjoy are the Kids Plaza featuring a museum and workshops, the Tempozan Ferris Wheel with spectacular views, Hollywood Dream amusement park, and Kidzania Koshien amusement park. At Umeda Joypolis, spend the morning at this indoor amusement park with a video arcade with games.

If you’re looking for interesting activities, the Osaka Science Museum offers an assortment of displays and hands-on exhibits designed for up-close and personal interaction with space. The Osaka City Museum of Fine Arts features has an extensive display of Japanese and Chinese art, and more art collections are on display with detailed pieces at the Museum of Oriental Ceramics.

Another option for a relaxing morning outing is a visit to the National Museum of Art. The unusual museum is located underground and maintains current and upcoming exhibits covering genres such as contemporary art, classic 16th-century masters, sculptures, and photography. The museum features a museum shop, kids room, and restaurant.

From underground to high in the sky, visit the ABENO HARUKAS Art Museum. This museum is housed in the tallest building in Osaka at 980 feet.

There’s also the Osaka Museum of History and the Osaka Museum of Housing and Living, both providing a look at the history of the city and a glimpse at city life through the years.

Noon: Lunch

If freshly made soba noodles and tempura are on your personal menu of Japanese cuisine, a visit to Takama is recommended. A warm and friendly atmosphere and knowledgeable wait staff take time to explain the menu and the preparation process. The restaurant is just a few minutes from the Tenjimbashisuji Rokuchrome station and opens at 11:30 a.m.

Open daily from 11:00 a.m-11:00 p.m., Critters Burgers satisfies the taste buds with the flavor of juicy burgers with a creative choice of toppings such as pineapple or avocado, or go with a traditional burger with cheese and bacon topped with a secret sauce, along with potato wedges or salad, and a thick milkshake. Vegetable burgers are also on the menu.

The Hard Rock Cafe Osaka is open Monday-Thursday and Saturday from 11:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m., and Friday until 12:00 a.m.. It serves salads, sandwiches, burgers, steak, seafood, fajitas, and assorted sides.

Afternoon: More Adventures Await

An interesting way to spend the afternoon is exploring the nooks and crannies of Osaka Castle and the surrounding park. Construction of the historic castle began in 1583. It is a long-standing landmark with a museum displaying a variety of exhibits and the Nishinomaru Garden with an estimated 600 cherry trees. The castle is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Sunday-Saturday.

Other historic locations to visit include the Hōkoku Shrine, the 10th century Osaka Tenman-gū Shinto shrine, the 3rd century Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine with its peaceful garden setting, Hōzen-ji Temple, and the ancient Shitennō-ji Buddhist Temple, which dates to 593 A.D. A landmark with telescopic views from its observation platform is the Tsūtenkaku Tower, originally built in 1912. After a fire damaged the tower in 1943, it was demolished and rebuilt in 1956.

Nipponbashi, also known as Den Den Town, is a haven for electronic enthusiasts. The area has many shopping venues for anime, hobby and craft stores, arcades, toys, gaming equipment, and character costumes. Cafes are readily available for food and drink while taking a break from perusing the merchandise.

Everyone will enjoy a visit to Osaka Aquarium Kaiyukan, with its numerous exhibits of marine species. As one of the largest aquariums, visitors will see a variety of marine life from tropical to Arctic regions in one of 15 tanks. For another wildlife encounter, visit the long-standing Tennōji Zoo, which opened in 1915. Coin collectors will get their money’s worth when visiting the Mint Museum with its extensive collection.

For visitors who prefer landscaping, gardens, and cherry blossoms, several locations provide colorful vistas such as Kema Sakuranomiya Park situated along the Osaka River with its cherry blossom trees that explode with delicate color during the blooming season. The first public park in Osaka was established in 1891 and named Nakanoshima Park. Located near the Tosabori and Dojima Rivers, the park features a rose garden, museum, and library, and it is the setting for scheduled festivals. This is a nice place to relax and enjoy a picnic after while sightseeing.

Kemasakuranomiya Park in Osaka.

Late Afternoon: Shopping

Whether you’re interested in a souvenir for yourself or a friend, Osaka has several areas where you may find the perfect item.

At Kuromon Ichiba Market, grab a late afternoon snack before dinner at one of the food street vendors while perusing the market for something special to take home. The market is open daily from 9:00 a.m-6:00 p.m.

Shinsaibashi-Suji shopping arcade has something for everyone. Retail stores, upscale shops, specialty venues, restaurants, cafes, and more, line the walkway of the nearly 2,000-square-foot roofed arcade. You’ll find the arcade filled with bustling shopping activity, commuters, and business people combined with bicycle and vehicle traffic intersecting the arcade walkway. Traversing the arcade is an adventure unto itself.

For an elegant atmosphere at a flagship retail store, there’s Takashimaya in the Umeda district. Shoppers can also choose from among stores with dining and shopping venues such as Namba Parks, conveniently located near the Namba Station, Tempozan Marketplace, and Grand Front Osaka. Experience an out-of-the-ordinary shopping experience at HEP Five with its rooftop ferris wheel, and in Rinku Town, the entire city is dedicated to shopping with three malls — Seacle, Rinku Premium Outlet, and Aeon.

Dinnertime: Pleasing the Palate

For a delectable dinner and a glass of select wine or sake, Fujiya 1935 brings robust flavors, beautifully plated cuisine, and an elegant atmosphere to the table. The 3-star Michelin restaurant has a crisp, cool, Hawaiian theme, attentive staff, and a diversified menu with choices such as wasabi pasta, sea urchin, Spanish mackerel, artisan bread, assorted fish offerings, cheese linguine, and creative desserts. Reasonably priced and a popular dining venue; reservations are suggested.

At Hajime, experience dining at a different level as French-inspired dishes are infused with a Japanese flair. Each visually pleasing dish is creatively presented and reminiscent of a fine piece of art combined with extraordinary flavors to tantalize the palate. Open for dinner only from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Sunday-Saturday.

Taste the goodness of Japanese beef at Matsusakagyu Yakiniku with creative dishes such as stoned garlic rice, Chinese cabbage kimchi, six kinds of specialty Matsusaka beef, beef tender ponzu, shrimp, squid, port, and Matsusake beef and broiled sushi. Located in the Dōtonbori district, the restaurant opens for dinner from 5:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. Monday through Sunday. It also opens for lunch from 12:00 noon to 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

Late Night: Adult Fun and Entertainment

Osaka has an array of choices for adult fun and entertainment especially in the Dōtonbori district, which is the heart of Osaka’s nightlife. These nightclubs are just a few of the exciting destinations offering a sizzling night in the city with live performances, karaoke, dancing, food, and a long list of specialty brews, wines, and cocktails.

Giraffe Osaka features three floors of state-of-the-art sound equipment, sparkling LED lighting, music from hip hop to reggae, dancing, a dinner menu, scheduled events, and a long menu list of refreshing libations.

For a touch of the Irish, The Local carries an extensive selection of beer, ale, wine, and cocktails along with Irish fare such as fish and chips and shepherds’ pie and delectable burgers and salads. Located just five minutes from the Shinsaibashi station, the pub has a bilingual staff, free bar snacks, live music, free Wi-Fi, and a happy hour Monday-Friday from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. The pub opens at 6:00 p.m. daily and stays open until 1:00 a.m. Sunday-Thursday. The pub caters to the late-nighters with a 3:00 a.m. closing time on Friday and Saturday.

Travelers will get their “rock on” at the Cherry Bomb, where the featured attraction is a selection of craft beer and microbrews, wine, cocktails, assorted snacks, and weekly food and drink specials on Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday. The bar opens Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 9:00 p.m., Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at 8:00 p.m. Closing time is usually around 3:00 a.m.

GHOST Ultra Lounge is open Thursday-Tuesday from 10:00 p.m. until late. DJs spin the vinyl playing hip hop, R&B, reggae, and more. It’s a posh party time atmosphere with music pounding to the beat of LED lighting and patrons dancing.

Tempozan Ferris Wheel in Osaka.

After Hours: Late, Late Night Fun

Club Joule is one of Osaka’s oldest nightclub venues. Expect music, dancing, superior sound and lighting, international performers, and an extensive drink menu. An upscale, upbeat, and uptown atmosphere fills every corner of the three floors and terrace every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00 p.m to 5:00 a.m.

Just a two-minute walk from Shinsaibashi Station and located on the third floor of the Shinsaibashi Atrium Building, ROCK ROCK Bar, combines a food menu with several choices in cuisine such as American, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, Italian, and more, plus a beverage menu of beer, sake and plum wine, champagne, and assorted cocktails. It’s small, friendly, offers great music, and is, and has been, a favorite watering hole for band members stopping by after a concert. The bar is known for being open until the very wee hours of the morning.

The Blarney Stone Shinsaibashi, also just minutes from the station, opens at 5:00 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 3:30 p.m. on Sunday. The pub offers traditional Irish cuisine plus pizza, burgers, and wings, select beers, Irish whiskey, and flavorful Mojitos. Listen to live music and then party until 5:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

For more late, late night entertainment, the Seven House keeps it going from 9:00 p.m.-5:00 a.m. Monday-Saturday. The mansion-themed atmosphere with a party in each room is chic, upscale, and pure New York. DJs spin the tunes and the bartender has just about any type of libation preferred. At Seven House, life’s a party.

Sumiyoshi Taisha.

Where to Stay in Osaka

Osaka has many choices in accommodations from budget and pet-friendly to multi-star selections and luxury resorts. For the budget-minded and off-the-beaten path-type travelers, there’s the Fuku Hostel. The non-smoking establishment near the subway has free Wi-Fi, kitchenette, and self-serve laundry.

Enjoy upscale rooms and comfort for yourself and for your pet-companion at the Hyatt Regency Osaka featuring a fitness center, garden pool, and on-site restaurants or the Intercontinental Hotel Osaka. Both hotels are non-smoking establishments and provide free Wi-Fi. The Intercontinental provides complimentary taxi service, spa, restaurants, and a traditional bathhouse. Take luxury to the next level with a stay at The Ritz-Carlton, the St. Regis Osaka, Swissotel Nankai Osaka, or Osaka Marriott Miyako Hotel. Each hotel is known for its elegant decor, upscale features and amenities, and superior customer service.

For rooms with outstanding views, reasonably priced, and a 4.5 rating, select Mitsui Garden Hotel Osaka Premier with onsite restaurant. Other great choices include The Park Front Hotel at Universal Studios Japan, Hotel Universal Point, Imperial Hotel Osaka, Fraser Residence Nankai Osaka, and Cross Hotel Osaka.

Osaka International Airport

Travelers landing or departing Osaka International Airport have access to monitors providing airport information and flights and departures, airport security and police, information phones, a lost and found area, and help desks. These services and personnel ensure travelers have access to the services necessary for a safe and comfortable travel experience.

Airport Services

The airport is comprised of the Central Terminal, North Terminal, and South Terminal. For questions about hotel reservations, car reservations, travel insurance, or information about other services, visit the Terminal and Travel help desk located in the North Terminal 1F arrival lobby and the South Terminal 1F arrival lobby.

Dining Shopping and Relaxing

Osaka International offers several options for buying souvenirs, goods, specialty items, like Mizuno. For travelers wanting to pick up last minute items, visit Gift Shop Gracias or ACTUS with its assortment of items and an observation deck.

Business travelers have the option of reserving one of two meeting rooms; Sora-no-ma and Hoshi-no ma. For those who want to enjoy a cigar or cigarette, there are designated smoking rooms and smoking areas. At the Credit Card Holder Lounge, travelers have access to smoking and non-smoking seats, free magazines, soft drinks, newspaper, Wi-Fi, and PC. For a charge, copy and fax services are available and visitors can order a beer.

Osaka Science Museum.

Transportation

Five car rental companies are currently available for booking using the airport help desk. These include Nippon Rent-A-Car, Times Car Rental, Toyota Rent-A-Car, ORIX Rent-A-Car, and Nissan Rent-A-Car. Other options for transportation include taxi, bus, limo service, or use the Osaka Monorail.

Other Services

While waiting for a flight to depart, or after landing and waiting for a connector flight, unwind and relax with the use of coin-operated massage chairs. If you’re heading to a business meeting directly from the airport and want to look your best, take advantage of the shoe-shining services. You’ll also find coin-operated lockers, baggage storage, and baggage delivery and pick-up services readily available.

Before leaving the airport or getting ready for a flight, take care of money matters, pictures, tickets, faxing, copying a document, or connecting with friends, family, or associates. Services available include free wireless LAN, mobile phone charging, currency exchange, cash dispensers, a post office, and an instant photo booth. Nurseries are also available in the North and South 2F terminals. Osaka International also provides ADA accessible toilets.

For travelers in need of medical or dental assistance, both have clinics available located in Central Terminal 1F with specific hours on weekdays and on Saturday.

A memorable travel experience awaits any traveler spending time in Osaka whether they’re on a business trip or a leisurely vacation. From exquisite and historical architecture and the blending of an ancient culture with modern amenities to attractions and points of interest for all ages, Osaka is a one-of-a kind city that offers unlimited opportunities 24/7.